The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 3b – Seeing The Six-String Major Scale

Hello Everyone!  Here’s the second 1/2 of the GuitArcitecture Mode visualization lesson 3 extravaganza!

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This lesson, is only the six-string examples from the first 1/2 of the lesson.  If the charts or the rules don’t make any sense – you may want to read the first 1/2 of this lesson (found here) for clarity.

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(If you need to go back further, you may also want to check out part one or part two of the series.)

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A set of examples showing all the positional three-note-per-string modal fingerings in the key of C Major follow.

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Note:

The sextuplet rhythms are merely presented as a logical rhythmic division of a six note pattern, and are by no means the only rhythms that should be practiced for these modes.

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Ascending Parent Major Modal Patterns

(As the scale ascends the patterns descend)

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Descending Modal Patterns:

(As the pattern descends across the strings, the modes ascend in order)

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Here are the important things to focus on for now:

(It may seem like a long list – but really most of it is holdover from part 2 of the lesson series)

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1. Theoretical:

  • The guitar fingerboard can be divided into 3 sets of two strings. Any 2-string fingering pattern that starts on the B string can be moved to the same starting pitch on the D or the low E string and keep the same fingering.
  • The major scale can be broken down into seven two-string modes that follow a specific order based on its scale degree from the parent scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian). The two-string patterns are modular and can be adapted to positional playing (see rules above).
  • The sound of the mode is based as much on the notes of the mode as it’s related chord.  So for right now – this is just a whole lot of ways to see C Major on a fingerboard – you should adapt the process to other keys as well.
  • In addition to using a time keeping device of some kind (like a metronome, drum loop, etc) playing along to a chord or a bass note will help establish tonality and help associate each pattern with a sound).  For now try playing the patterns over the related major chord (C Major / C Major 7) or the relative minor chord (A minor/A minor 7 chord).
  • For those of you looking to skip ahead, try playing the root of each 6 note pattern as a bass note and then playing the pattern over it. (i.e. D Dorian over D, E Phrygian over E etc.) one you get the initial patterns in your ears as C Major.

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2.  Technical:

  • While it’s natural to want to progress quickly, trying to play too quickly too soon results in excess hand tension which will increase the difficulty of what you’re trying to play.  Fluidity comes from focused, relaxed repetition.  
  • Fretting hand: When playing these patterns, practice using just the fingertip to fret the notes and use the minimum amount of tension needed for the note to sound cleanly.  Additionally, try to keep the fingers down on the strings when playing and remove them from the string only when necessary.
  • Picking Hand:  Try using the above picking pattern on the top two strings or alternate picking.
  • Practice the scale ascending and descending and really focus on clarity of notes, hand tension and timing.  Even many intermediate to advanced players can gain something by really focusing on making clean transitions between the fingering shapes.
  • Isolate problem areas and work out.  You’re not going to be able to play the sequence cleanly if any of the individual components aren’t 100%.  This isn’t a bad thing.  Things you develop over time are more likely to stay with you (and thus be accessible when you’re improvising).

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3.  Musical:

  • Making music from the patterns is a whole other skill set, but you need to know where to put your fingers on the strings while you  bend, slide and phrase your way into making music.  Having said that, since the visualization process doesn’t take that long,  as soon as you get the patterns down I’d recommend to start manipulating the patterns to try to make them more musical to your ear.   See Part 2 of this series for more specifics or the making music out of scales post.

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The Obligatory book plug:

The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Melodic Patterns takes all possible permutations and variations of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 note groups of these 2 string shapes and then shows how to build them up into extended melodic sequences.   As a 300+ page book, it is a substantial reference/informational text, and goes into further depth than any other known book on the subject.  You can find out more about it here.

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In the next lesson, I’m going to cover chords associated with the forms and start to move towards the individual modes and making music out of them.  As before, I recommend that you just go through the lesson at your own pace and return as you need to.  Please feel free to post any questions you might have (or pm me at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com).

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I hope this helps and as always, thanks for reading!

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P.S. If you like this post – you may also like:

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THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 2 – SEEING THE TWO STRING MAJOR SCALE

The GuitArchitecture Guide To Modes Part 1 – Seeing The Single String Major Scale

MAKING MUSIC OUT OF SCALES

A BRIEF THOUGHT ABOUT MUSIC THEORY

PRACTICE MAKES BETTER AKA PRACTICING PART I

PROPER POSTURE IS REQUIRED FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE – PRACTICING PART II

TENSION AND THE SODA CAN OR PRACTICING PART III

DEFINITIONS AND DOCUMENTS OR PRACTICING PART IV

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PLAY OR PRACTICING PART V

TESTING YOUR VOCABULARY OR PRACTICING PART VI

POSSESSION IS 9/10S OF THE LAW BUT PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING OR PRACTICING PART VII

SOME USEFUL ONLINE PRACTICE TOOLS

WARMING UP: FINGER EXERCISES, THE 3 T’S AND THE NECESSITY OF MISTAKES

2 thoughts on “The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 3b – Seeing The Six-String Major Scale

  1. I’ve been wrapping my head around modes at such a snail’s pace until finding this. You break them down into small, visual components so clearly. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, you have a gift.

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