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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-15-2017, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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Scales and modes question

Hey there, I have a question regarding how a mode relates to the major scale (Ionian mode). Can I play the F Lydian mode over a song that is in the key of C Major? I'm new to this kind of stuff, so if anyone could explain it to me, I would be thankful.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-15-2017, 12:51 PM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

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Originally Posted by fouto17 View Post
Hey there, I have a question regarding how a mode relates to the major scale (Ionian mode). Can I play the F Lydian mode over a song that is in the key of C Major? I'm new to this kind of stuff, so if anyone could explain it to me, I would be thankful.
Yes, but that's not the point.

F Lydian and C Ionian (major) have the same notes, so you COULD play a F Lydian scale over the top of a C major chord progression, and it wouldn't sound wrong.

However, that's not really what modes are about. The thing with F Lydian, is that it's still in the key of F, and what makes it sound "Lydian" is the way all the notes of the scale resolve back down to that tonic of F. Notably, it's the #4 sound that it really distinctive to the mode, so try playing a simple F vamp, and solo over the top of it in F Lydian, and really pay attention to how that #4 sounds against the chord. That's what really makes the mode - don't think of it so much as a series of notes, but rather as the sound and colors that they impart, and how that works musically.

If you take a F Lydian scale and play it over a C major chord progression, you're not "really" playing F Lydian, you're just playing C major, because that's what the notes are in relation to the underlying harmony. It's when you're playing the C major notes against an F vamp, where you REALLY start to get that lydian flavor.

Awesome example of the Lydian tonality - this is in C lydian, so it'd be like the G major scale, played from C to C:


So, I guess in short, I'd suggest looking at it the exact OPPOSITE way that you are - rather than wondering if you can play an F Lydian scale against C, think of Lydian as playing a C major scale against F, and how that changes the intervals and colors of the major scale.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-15-2017, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

Drew thanks a lot man, you looked like Steve Vai talking how scales are just about colours and creating an atmosphere, and that's a great thing! I'm much more clarified now. Thanks again!
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 09:13 AM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

Just for clarification:

The C lydian is just the notes of the G ionian but you start on C and end at C? There are no other changes to the scale pattern?
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 01:12 PM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

Thanks man!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatiasTolkki View Post
Just for clarification:

The C lydian is just the notes of the G ionian but you start on C and end at C? There are no other changes to the scale pattern?
Ok, so modes are often made out to be extremely complex, more so than I think they justify, and maybe some historical context would help here.

The Greeks gave us the diatonic (seven note) scale. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm assuming that, back then, instruments were only capable of producing just those seven notes. So, music was written in that one key. If you wanted to play in a different "key," the order of those intervals would have to change. The Greeks eventually named them all based on, if memory serves, Greek tribes - Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, and Locrian. You were changing the "key" of the music from a C to, say, a G, but you were also changing the "tonality" and the relationship of the pitches to each other. Music theory class was a LONG time ago, though, so bear with me here. Eventually we ended up with the twelve tone chromatic scale and you could play any scale or mode from any of those starting pitches, which kind of brings us to the conversation we're having here.

So, I guess I'd say there's two ways to look at modes:

1) their derrivation. This is what we're talking about above, and to your point, yes, if you take the notes of a G major scale (I'm being careful here to NOT call it "a G major scale" but rather just the same notes), and play them from the 4th, C, from C to C but playing the notes you would in a G major scale, then yes, if the overall "key" you're playing them against is a C tonic, then you're playing C lydian.

2) their enharmonic construction. This is how they're usually described, which in this case, would be "C Lydian is a major scale with a raised 4th."

Note that both descriptions refer to the same series of notes, and get you to the same place.

I think the former is easier to comprehend, especially initially, but you probably want to think about them both ways, as the later is probably a better indicator of how to use them harmonically. It tells you, basically, "what are the important notes in this scale?" Primarily, that would be the C major triad - C, E, and G - as well as the raised 4th, F# (which, in passing, is the major 7th of a G major scale). So, if you wanted to improvise in C Lydian against a C drone or a simple, say, C-G chord vamp, if you really wanted to drive home that "lydian" sound those are the notes you'd want to really be focusing on. If you were playing against a C drone and were just playing G major licks and ending a lot of lines on G, then you would technically be playing in C lydian, but the way you were phrasing wouldn't really necessarily capture much of the color of that mode.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 06:55 PM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatiasTolkki View Post
Just for clarification:

The C lydian is just the notes of the G ionian but you start on C and end at C? There are no other changes to the scale pattern?
Your second question could be a problem. If you play a G major scale, move that same pattern up to C, you will be playing a C major scale, not C Lydian. Is that what you are asking? (The following is what I wrote before I thought your second question might be misguided.)

G Ionian(I): G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-(G)
A Dorian(ii): A-B-C-D-E-F#-G-(A)
B Phrygian(iii): B-C-D-E-F#-G-A-(B)
C Lydian(IV): C-D-E-F#-G-A-B-(C)
D Mixolydian(V): D-E-F#-G-A-B-C-(D)
E Aeolian(vi): E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-(E)
F# Locrian(vii dim): F#-G-A-B-C-D-E-(F#)

Drew, the theory you wrote is correct. The Greeks contributed much to our understanding of music because they studied music as a science. The modes are named after Greek city-states but not by the Greeks. In fact, historical context makes the topic of modes extremely complex and is largely irrelevant unless we are discussing Gregorian Chant. Your intentions are good and your practical knowledge is accurate. It would be weird if your music history knowledge was completely accurate unless you studied it in college. You make more money than I do so it all works out.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 07:36 PM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

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Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
Your second question could be a problem. If you play a G major scale, move that same pattern up to C, you will be playing a C major scale, not C Lydian. Is that what you are asking? (The following is what I wrote before I thought your second question might be misguided.)

G Ionian(I): G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-(G)
A Dorian(ii): A-B-C-D-E-F#-G-(A)
B Phrygian(iii): B-C-D-E-F#-G-A-(B)
C Lydian(IV): C-D-E-F#-G-A-B-(C)
D Mixolydian(V): D-E-F#-G-A-B-C-(D)
E Aeolian(vi): E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-(E)
F# Locrian(vii dim): F#-G-A-B-C-D-E-(F#)
This layout made so much more sense rather than just a wall of text explaining it. Thanks
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 08:06 PM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

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Originally Posted by MatiasTolkki View Post
This layout made so much more sense rather than just a wall of text explaining it. Thanks
I actually had it lined up in a downwards cascade so that all the pitches aligned vertically making it clearer to read, but apparently, the forum had other ideas. Either way, I'm glad it helps.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-23-2017, 01:00 PM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

Yeah, at the ennd of the day, a mode is just playing a major scale, but treating some pitch other than the normal root of the scale as the "root." FGTF's visual is a great explanation!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2017, 02:27 AM
 
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Re: Scales and modes question

Drew is right thanks for the beautiful response. And the given is also very good.
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