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Further to my previous post on phrygian mode, see what you think of this:

Pick a tone, say C for convenience. What is the phrygian mode for C? Well according to the interactive circle of fifths, it is achieved by playing a G# major scale, but using C as our centre. What else do you notice about G#? Well, it’s the second to last mode going anti clockwise, followed by C#, which would be C locrian mode.

What we’re getting at here is the fact that C phrygian, or G# major (ionian) is made up of all notes that are in fact root notes for the major scales that give us our different modes for C. So if you ever want to draw quickly upon a set of modes for a particular note, simply think of phrygian mode. The notes required to play phrygian mode can then all be used as roots of their respective major scales, in order to achieve the other modes of the note we began with.

To simplify it further, we’ll use E as an example. E phrygian mode is achieved by playing C major but with E as the tonal centre. Click on E in the interactive circle of fifths, and once it’s at the top you’ll see that each mode is simply a letter, no sharps or flats. So these notes are all from our C major scale, or E phrygian. Once you know what your phrygian mode is, you have the tonal centre for every major scale required to achieve the other modes. Nice.

And if we want to get all geometric about it, phrygian mode in relation to ionian is made up of two points of an equilateral triangle, the third point of which would make phrygian mode for our note that made phrygian mode for our first note! (It also points to the third chord in the major key, which we’ve already shown to be important!) This would give us C, E and G#. Play those notes together and you have what is called an augmented chord, consisting of two major third intervals.

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Good day All,

Apologies for the long silence, I’ve been camping, caving and climbing in the Peak District. Had an amazing time and feeling very, very refreshed now!

I’ll be writing up some stuff here soon enough.

Until then I suggest you keep practicing! That’s what I’ve been doing!


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Is your cat plotting to kill you?

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To get some practice with modes, lets have a think about the key of C major. Refer to the interactive circle of fifths to help you.

The key of C major includes the notes C, D, E, F, G, A and B. Or, looking at the circle of fifths, F, C, G, D, A, E and B. The line in the circle tells us all of the notes in the key we’re interested in. The third note of the key is what we’re interested in today. For the key of C major, our third note is E. In the circle, you can see that it is the penultimate note before the dividing line.

The note E is contained in the major scale for all of the notes in the key of C. Put another way, every major scale in A, B, C, D, E, F and G contain an E somewhere. And if you remember from the post on phrygian mode, E phrygian is simply a C major scale and phrygian mode is a kind of oppsing major scale.

So what you can do here is try playing the major scale for each of the notes A, B, C, D, E, F and G, but concentrating on the note E. You will be cycling through all 7 modes.

Things to bear in mind here and rememeber while you are practicing, are that E is the third note of C major. It is a “major” third because it is the middle note of our C major triad. And the third chord in any major key is always minor. So, our third note from a major scale is the major third of the major triad, making the first chord major. In the key in question, it is actually the root of a minor chord. It is also the root note of the phrygian mode using the parent major key. And phrygian mode is the “anti” major scale, in a way.

3 really is the magic number!

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I spotted a forum thread at My Les Paul which had some nice discussion. I posted my own comments there, and have copied them here as well. Hope you find it useful:

The question is not answered all that easily… A scale or a chord can have a root, and as pointed out by others, the root is not necessarily the lowest note of the chord.

You start to delve into the area of inversions and modes here. An inversion is a chord where the lowest note is not the root. So, G,C,E could be thought of as a C chord, even though the lowest note is not a C. This can be written as C/G, which you’ve probably seen before. There are many inversions of the same chord going up and down the scales and the neck of the guitar, typically achieved by playing your open chord shapes but using bars at different parts of the neck, or simplified chords using less than all 6 strings.

Modes are similar in a way, in that you begin by playing a major scale, but not the “ROOT” note, i.e. play a C major scale, but starting on D (this would be Dorian mode). As each mode has an associated root chord (C ionian, D dorian, E phrygian, F myxolidian, G Lydian, A Aeolian and B locrian) you can write a song in each of these modes by using the chords from C major but changing the root chord, i.e. maybe the chord that you keep coming back to, and the scale that you base your melodies around to be a note (or chord) from C major, other than C.

Off the top of my head, Guns and Roses Sweet Child of Mine is a good example of a song in myxolidian mode. And I think that David Bowie’s “Man Who Sold the World” is a good example of switching between modes from Phygian mode to Aeolian (I think!!!).

Hope this helps, and doesn’t just make it more confusing. I find this quite useful:

The Guitar Master’s Interactive Circle of Fifths

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Thanks to a student of mine for letting me know about the cavatina tab not showing properly in internet exploder. I’ve fixed it now. And here it is!

If anyone else notices any problems with the site, please let me know via the contact form or leaving a comment somewhere. that would be much appreciated!

Thanks

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Coming Soon:

I’m currently writing up notes for cavatina to accompany the tab. These will help explain what chords each section of the piece is based around, and also what shapes you can get into with your left hand to enable smooth transitions from one shape to the next.

Keep you eyes peeled, or subscribe to the RSS feed!

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A couple of searches recently have been for the term “what mode is a diminished chord”. I thought I would have an attempt at answering this question.

A diminished chord is not something that you would typically refer to as a mode. It is just a diminished chord, created from playing the 7th, 2nd and 3rd (7th, 9th and 11th)  notes from a major scale. This gives you the diminished chord for the associated key. So as you can see from using the Interactive Circle of Fifths, for the key of C major, for example, the diminished chord would be a B minor diminished.

Opposite our 7th chord in the interactive circle of fifths, we find Locrian mode. Using C major as an example starting point, try clicking on B in the interactive circle of fifths. You will see it rotate around until it confirms for us that B Locrian mode is indeed achieved by using a C Major scale, or chords from the C major key, concentrating on the 7th note, or the diminished chord.

What this means is that if you are playing around the diminished chord of a key, say B diminished and perhaps some other chords from C major, and jamming around a C major scale, but concentrating on the 7th note, you will actually be in B Locrian Mode. Perhaps you could refer to this as playing around a diminished mode.

Check Locrian Mode on wikipedia for more information and some examples of songs written using it.

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