So, the biggest key is the third of the mode, if it is a minor third, it is a minor mode, major third, major mode.
Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian, Locrian (see below)
Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian
Next, you have to pay attention to the extensions, start with 7ths. If you are playing across a D7 chord, you would play D Mixolydian, why, because Mixolydian is a major mode with a dominant (flat) 7. Starting to make sense?
Of course, say you are playing over a plain jane minor chord, Am for example, you could use A Dorian, A Phrygian, or A Aeolian.
Locrian is pretty much considered an altered mode because is has a flat 5, you could use it against a minor chord, but play it like you mean it.
So, relative to the major scale (Ionian mode), the modes are as follows:
Ionian - major scale
Dorian - b3, b7
Phrygian - b2, b3, b6, b7
Lydian - #4
Mixolydian - b7
Aeolian - b3, b6, b7
Locrian - b2, b3, b5, b6, b7
This is the order most books, articles etc... teach modes, it's okay, because it is the same order as the tonic of the modes relative to the major scale degrees.
Perhaps a better way to look at them is in order of "brightness", or number of altered notes relative to the major scale:
To me, all I got from that was.......and that's it. I learned a few modes of a few scales from a book, but mostly I just play it by ear and let my fingers do the walking. If it sounds good, then I go with it and if it sounds bad then I try something else. I just don't think that I have the patience to actually learn what all that stuff means....
I took 1 semester of Music Theory in college, while getting my engineering degree. Most of it I picked up on my own, there is so much info out there, the hard part is distilling it down to the basics. My explanation above is pretty much the basics of modes, after understanding that modes are built on scale degrees of the major scale (Ionian mode). Meaning C major has the same "note inventory" as D Dorian, E Phyrgian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian, and B Locrian. I think most of you guys knew that, but just in case...
C Ionian (Major Scale) - C D E F G A B C
D Dorian - D E F G A B C D
E Phrygian - E F G A B C D E
... and so on, F Lydian, same notes starting on F, G Mixo, same notes starting on G. The big thing that separates G Mixolydian from C Ionian is the tonal center, G vs C.
Same thing for the other scales/modes: G Ionian (major) has the same note inventory (G A B C D E F#) as A Dorian, B Phrygian, C Lydian, D Mixolydian, E Aeolian, F# Locrian.
So, the real basics here is to know the major scales up and down the fretboard, then learn what modes are relative the to which major scale, then to play "modally" you just play the major scale "pattern" of the chosen mode but using the tonal center of that mode. Not sure that came out as clear as it could, but I think you can understand what I mean. After that, see the above post for guidance (notice I didn't say rule) about where to use them. Of course, that goes along with learning chord extensions.
This stuff isn't that hard, and knowing it means you have a better chance of playing something that works the first time, not having to go over and over something. Of course, that has it's place at times too! If you play over extended chords, 7s, 9s, 11s, 13s, 6/9s, whatever, it really helps to have an idea of where to start, and yeah, trying to keep up with jazz tunes still screws with me if I think about it too much.
If Your Playing Am7.....You Can Solo In The Phrygian Mode.....(Minor Scale).....Using The Root Note A...(Tonic).....Start Your Phry Pattern In The Key Of A....(5th Fret Low E)......You Can Also Use The Relative Minor F#.....(2nd Fret Low E).......Against The A m7........You Can Also Solo In C....8th Fret Low E........Because C Is The Relitave To The Am.....
The Phrygian Mode Works Great With The Minor 7 Chords....Just Start On The Root Note.....Of The Minor Chord Your Playing In.....Play The Pattern.......Start and End With The Root Note........Keep Working The Root Notes.....Hammering........Pulling......Dropping 2 Frets...(Whole Step)....Then Bending To The Root Note......Working Out Of The Phry Patten.....
the best thing you must know the theory of the scales and modes and then to play or improvise it is another different matter. Like for instance you take a E lydian scales and try to play it you'll end up going up and down the scales. You have to listen how they are use first like E lydian many of Vai's song are in Lydian best example are boston rain melody and Kim pee du wee. So after listening to it try to play his song and you'll be natural to the sound if lydian... We are natural to major and minor modes cos we are grown with it.. but not the modes. I've studied theory and the modes are abundant (don't know if it's a correct word) by our classical composers (bach, mozart, beethoven etc) and switch to major and minor modes as a standard... But people are slowy coming back to use it... :mrgreen: