The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes Part 7 – Minor Positional Modal Interchange and Complimenting Modes with Chords

Welcome to the seventh installment of the GuitArcitecture Mode Visualization lesson series.

If you see anything unfamiliar here, you may want to check out:

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In the last lesson, I took a look at the modes and the circle of 5ths.  In this lesson, I’m going to:

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  • show how to modify a minor chord to cover minor modal interchanges and
  • show how to switch modal patterns in position

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Complimenting Modes with Chords

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A lot of print has been used to describe how modes fit with chords but substantially less has been written about modifying chords to fit various modes. I’ve developed this approach as an introductory way to work on modal interchange it does three things:

  • Limits harmonic content to simplify the modal interchange process
  • show a way to modify chords to work with modes and
  • develops the skill set for changing modes in position.

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(All useful skills to have – btw).  Since I’ve been dealing with C major – I’m going to look at A minor (the relative minor chord) first.

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One Chord Modal Interchange Exercise – Minor

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Before we get into the exercise, let’s make sure we’re clear about the modes we’ll be using.  Of the parent major scale modes I’ve covered – there are 3 that can be used over an A minor chord:

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  • A Dorian (G major):

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Click to enlarge

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  • A Aeolian (C major):

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Click to enlarge

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  • A Phrygian (F major):

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Click to enlarge

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Here’s the accompaniment pattern:

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Repeat each bar 2-4 times ** Click to enlarge**

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Here are the steps:

  • Record or loop the pattern in time 
  • Playing over the loop practice switching modes each bar.  I’ve outlined the fingerings above (see earlier posts in the series if you want to see how I derived them) with a sample rhythm.  As an initial step – just practice ascending and descending the patterns in a scalar fashion.
  • As the level of familiarity with the modal interchanges increases, try removing the repeats and increasing the tempo (thus increasing the difficulty level).

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Note:

Make sure you don’t start every bar with the low A root!

The goal of this is to be able to switch between modes “mid-stream”.   As a first step, when playing these ascending and descending make sure that wherever you are in the pattern ascending or descending that you transition into the next mode smoothly.  The initial goal here isn’t speed – it’s fluidity and being in control of switching between modes.

(See the melodic note below for some other tips once you get comfortable with the transition).

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Now let’s examine each chord (and mode) individually:

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  • First measure: arpeggiate a minor chord in 4/4 time (in this case A minor).

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A minor – Play A Dorian, A Aeolian or A Phrygian – Click to enlarge

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In order of increasing darkness, the modes could be played over that chord are:

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A Dorian, A Aeolian and A Phrygian

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  • Measure 2: adapt the chord to a specific mode using the mode’s characteristic note.

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The first mode explored in this example will be A Phrygian.  Since Phrygian’s characteristic note is the b2, I’ll change the 2nd root (A) with the b2 (Bb) creating an A minor (add b9).

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A minor add b9 – Play A Phrygian – Click to enlarge

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  • Measure 3:  I’ll continue the chromatic motion on the G string changing the Bb to B natural. This produces an A minor (add 9).

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A minor add 9 – Play A Dorian or A Aeolian – Click to enlarge

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  • Measure 4:  Now the 5th of the chord (E) will move chromatically to F, emphasizing the b6 of the Aeolian mode creating an A minor (add 9, b6) chord.

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A minor add 9 add b6 – Play A Aeolian – click to enlarge

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  • Measure 5:  The 6th of the chord will now move chromatically to F#  emphasizing the natural 6 of the Dorian mode and creating an A minor (add 6, 9) chord.

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A minor add 6, 9 – Play A Dorian – Click to enlarge

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The chord progression then goes back to A minor where any of the 3 modes could be used.

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Notes:

  • Harmonic – If you’re playing with another musician try taking this one chord vamp idea and using your ear to change the chord when the soloist changes modes.  You can make other chordal alterations as well creating melodic movement in the voicing –  is a great approach to use both in comping on a single chord as well as creating melodic movement between 2 chords (more on that in another lesson).

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  • Melodic – As the soloist in this approach – try to change modes then the rhythm player changes chords.  As soon as you get comfortable with the shapes – try making melodies and taking them through each modal change.  (See part 5  for an example of that process with one modal shape).

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The nice thing about playing with human beings (rather than sequences) is that people can introduce random factors into playing.  A person can make all kinds of melodic or harmonic decisions that require the other person to change and adapt.  It develops a dialog and allows people to become more attune to playing with other people (and ultimately more musical).

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The next lesson will cover Major chord variations in this same style.  But if you want to get a head start the process is the same as what I just covered, the characteristic notes for the major modes are:

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Lydian: #4

Major: Natural 7

Mixolydian: b7

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As before, just go through the lesson at your own pace and return to it as you need to.  Also 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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-SC

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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 6 – THE CIRCLE OF 5THS AND MODAL INTERCHANGE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 5 – MAKING THE MOST OF ONE PATTERN

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 4 – MODES AND CHORDS

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THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3B – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3A – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

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

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Making Music Out Of Scales

A BRIEF THOUGHT ABOUT MUSIC THEORY

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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

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GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 3

Getting Hipness From A Major Triad Or More Chord Recycling Part 2

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 1

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Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 3

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 2

GETTING THROUGH THE GIG – NEGOTIATING A CHORD CHART PART 1

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

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