Phrygian different in two lessons


light487
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light487
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04/03/2008 10:05 pm
lol :D

Fair enough.. :) At least you knew I was joking.. It's sometimes hard to deliver sarcasm and mock surprise etc ;)
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Jolly McJollyson
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04/03/2008 10:06 pm
Also, to help elucidate my reasoning behind not liking to call different modes "the same thing" even if they have the same notes:

clickety
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/04/2008 3:09 am
Originally Posted by: equatorI think you made a mistake there CSchlegel.
A Locrian is not realative to C Ionian, it is relative to Bb Major.

Yep, that's a mistake. I screwed up copy-pasting from my notepad document. :rolleyes: Geez. Thanks for pointing that out.

It should be:
C ionian is D dorian is E phrygian is F lydian is G mixolydian is A aeolian is B locrian.

And yes, of course I make mistakes. :) I make them quite often. I usually take the time to fix them though. And this time I didn't. I am sincerely sorry if I caused anyone any temporary confusion on this issue. It can already be hard enough to understand when you have the right info!
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Silimtao
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04/04/2008 4:00 am
Originally Posted by: light487Right.

See that's what I was trying to say but in another way. See.. I don't know where every single note on the entire fretboard is.. I don't think I ever will to be honest. :o

So what I do is I go...

1. I need to play E Phrygian.
2. E Phrygian is based on the C Major scale.
3. Find C Major scale on guitar (in the 3 or 4 moveable shapes I know how to play it)
4. Start from (and end on) the 3rd degree/note of those C Major scale shapes.

Ideally I would like to know where each note is on the guitar. Ideally I would like to be able to work in terms of raised 4ths and lowered 7ths because that's how theory people tend to talk about scales.. but I am a very practical person, though also analytical and I get easily confused by all of that...

Conventional theory is great if you understand it.. but I tend not to understand it till I make it work for me.. then the methodology I used to understand it becomes my theory, not the original "correct" theory. :) I think it's great to be able to have 2 or 3 different ways of looking at the same thing because if someone is not getting it by one method, they can always look at the other method until understanding hits, then what the original person was saying starts to make sense too. :)

So if I grab my little thing again:

C D E F G A B C D E F G A B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Ionian
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - Relative positions to C Major scale
C D E F G A B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - I added these lines but I don't really see how it helps
if you didn't already understand the theory stuff in the
first place.

Dorian
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 - Relative positions to C Major scale
D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - D Dorian scale

Phrygian
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - Relative positions to C Major scale
E F G A B C D
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - E Phrygian scale


You can see my methodology of finding the E Phrygian and ANY Phrygian mode, not the true theory of it...


Far be it for me to try to explain music theory to anyone, but here's my take on your thinking light- ideally, you may see things in a different way.

I can understand your saying E phrygian is "based" on C major- as a point of reference and jumping off point to getting the hang of theory. However, how about just looking at the intervals that make up X scale and leave it at that? Follow what I'm saying? If you look at every scale being "based" on something else, then what is a major scale "based" on? The 6th degree of the E phrygian?

I guess what moved me to post this is, when I had a handful of lessons with the late, great, Lenny Breau he'd talk about different scales all the time, and for me to even begin to understand what he was talking about, I thought as you did- I had to find a "base" to get a hang of what he was talking about. But he said pretty much what Chris said- x scale IS x scale. Lenny really didn't talk much about x scale being relative to anything. Lenny wasn't classically trained, and often had trouble articulating what he was trying to teach, but in the end, he just said, "man, a scale is just a scale. Just memorize how they sound." Suuuure. But, follow what I'm saying? I dunno if I'm making sense, but when I was at Berklee, we were taught to view things as you're looking at them- I'm not saying you're right or wrong; I'm definitely in no position to say either. I'm just trying to look at it from a totally different perspective so I understand better, as I'm as confused as the next guy when it comes to theory. I think what's confused me most, is, classical theory, and "jazz" theory often don't mesh very well.

In a nutshell (yeah, I know my nutshells are often very big), I guess I'm trying to say if you look at a scale, know the intervals that make them, you wont need to look for "home base", because that particular (non major) scale IS home base. Am I making any sense here?
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light487
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04/04/2008 6:50 am
Interval theory is all good and well in terms of piano and one-string on a guitar.. but when you have to start jumping around the strings is where it does my head in. I know there is a 4th between each string and all that (except for the distance between G and B string of course :)) but I just find interval theory so alien to the way I think about the shapes on a guitar.. yeh I suppose you could think of it all as intervals.. and when I look at the shapes on the fretboard, that is all they are.. just intervals.. and I can define my own personal style of playing in terms of intervals.. but I dunno.. if I don't have that base, I am lost.. :o

So yeh, I see what you are saying.. and of course I have to agree that "my theory" is not conventional theory.. but it's the only way I understand it, no matter how much I try to look at it the conventional way. :)
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/04/2008 2:11 pm
Originally Posted by: SilimtaoI can understand your saying E phrygian is "based" on C major- as a point of reference and jumping off point to getting the hang of theory.[/quote]
Using the phrase based on is perhaps part of the trouble here.

The E phrygian mode is derived from the C major scale. More generally, the phrygian mode is derived from the major scale; phyrgian is the third mode of the major scale.

If you start playing a major scale on the third scale degree and play up an octave then you get the phrygian mode.

The only problem with light487's chart is that one cannot SEE the scale intervals. For example:

Phrygian
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - Relative positions to C Major scale
E F G A B C D
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - E Phrygian scale

This is all well and good but it does not show the most important information: the intervals that make the scale or mode sound the way it does and why it has a totally unique sound.

To be fair, this is implied, but only if you already know the theory. If you don't know the theory, then you are missing the most important part.

E Phrygian mode:
E (HS) F (WS) G (WS) A (WS) B (HS) C (WS) D (WS) E
1 (HS) flat2 (WS) min3 (WS) 4 (WS) 5 (HS) min6 (WS) min7 (WS) 1

No other mode (or scale) has that unique, exact pattern of intervals in between the scale degrees. That is why phrygian is phrygian and nothing else is phrygian.

Originally Posted by: SilimtaoHowever, how about just looking at the intervals that make up X scale and leave it at that?[/quote]
Yes, good point. However, don't forget, all these things are integrated into a seamless whole.
[QUOTE=Silimtao]If you look at every scale being "based" on something else, then what is a major scale "based" on? The 6th degree of the E phrygian?

The E phrygian mode is derived from the C major scale. The major scale is the source. The major scale is more fundamental; at the foundation of the musical theory heirarchy. The major scale is based up physics (the acoustical nature of sound) and human hearing (the physiology of the ear) and human mental capabilities (the human mind's ability to mentally grasp, remember and organize pure tones into specific, discreet patterns).
[QUOTE=Silimtao]I think what's confused me most, is, classical theory, and "jazz" theory often don't mesh very well.

I know some people suggest ways of looking at certain aspects of theory that can be confusing. And yes, some people contradict themselves.

However, just to be clear, there is no contradiction inherent in music theory.

This is an interesting point, though. I know that jazz players are sometimes "fast and loose" with their theoretical observations. Whereas classical players are typically much more precise in their observations.

So a classical player might make a severe distinction between 3 slightly different types of cadences (based upon the voice leading). But a jazz player might look at all 3 and say, "Those are all just two-five-one." :p

To bring this whole thing back to original point ...

The reason we have different scales, modes and chords is to achieve different sounds. The reason those different sounds exist is because of the unique pattern of intervals in any given scale, mode or chord.

Learn the intervals of any given pattern. Then, learn how the intervals of that pattern are integrated with the next set of intervals in the next pattern.
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jimmynitcher
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04/04/2008 4:53 pm
I discovered this which another way of looking at the modes in relation to intervals:

http://ftp.jp.openbsd.org/pub/scene/mags/trax_weekly/traxweek.001
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light487
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04/04/2008 8:47 pm
Originally Posted by: CSchlegelThis is all well and good but it does not show the most important information: the intervals that make the scale or mode sound the way it does and why it has a totally unique sound.

To be fair, this is implied, but only if you already know the theory. If you don't know the theory, then you are missing the most important part.

E Phrygian mode:
E (HS) F (WS) G (WS) A (WS) B (HS) C (WS) D (WS) E
1 (HS) flat2 (WS) min3 (WS) 4 (WS) 5 (HS) min6 (WS) min7 (WS) 1

No other mode (or scale) has that unique, exact pattern of intervals in between the scale degrees. That is why phrygian is phrygian and nothing else is phrygian.


Oh dear.. how easy it seems now. I have completely missed the point up until this explanation. I know exactly what Jolly was trying to get at now.. I'm so sorry Jolly.. I just couldn't understand it man.. but now I realise what you were saying. Of course it's the intervals.. how stupid am I.. bah! :o

I was correct but missing the point entirely. Thanks for making it clear Christopher.. I will still use my method to find Phrygian of course.. hehe.. old habits die hard.. but now I understand the modes MUCH better. Thankyou.
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Silimtao
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04/05/2008 2:46 am
Wow, this has turned into a really lively discussion since last night. I tried to post back early this morning from work, but never got around to finishing my thoughts; but I'll post what I wrote anyway, fwiw...

____________________
Morning (or evening), light and Chris,

I'm not going to quote much, as this prevents me from posting if I do so too much.

First, light, I'm glad you didn't perceive my post as an attack of any kind, as it certainly wasn't my intention to do so- I was just trying to bring to the table what I know (or don't) to hopefully expand on this discussion.

As you pointed out, Chris, a lot of confusion can lie in...I guess you can say semantics to a great degree. To further clarify, I think we should say we're discussing Western/European music theory.

CShlegel:
However, just to be clear, there is no contradiction inherent in music theory.

Depends who you talk to. When I was at Berklee, we had classical music theorists who told us what was "wrong" with jazz/pop theory. I remember when we spent 2 weeks dissecting the Beach Boys' harmonies in "Surfer Girl" and what was "wrong" with it from a classical sense, and what was right with it in a "modern/jazz" sense. Then we would have a jazz guy come in and say, "forget that classical crap, this is jazz."

And since there were students from all over the world, these non-Western students would bring to the table their culture's music theory into the mix. For example, there were a lot of really good Japanese be-boppers there. They brought up the "Japanese scale"- there were...I think 5 tones, the first 4 separated by whole tones, the last being a #5 (to the best of my recollection). Our theory instructor couldn't fit it into any type of Western theory that could make sense. I've been trying to post this since 9 a.m. So I keep losing my train of thought....I had a point here...crap, I've forgotten...

I'm going to try to wrap this up- I think what I was trying to say to light was...now I'm really at a loss for words...instead of relying on a home-base, take the particular scale for what it is. Yes, I understand these modal scales are derived from what Westerners are used to based on what we are used to hearing, which is the major scale. Guess what I was driving at, and I'll try to give an example- say you're playing in C major, and you're playing a G mixolydian scale over it; it will "fit" correct? Because G mix has all the scale notes of C major. It's when you play G mix over, say, G major that you hear the mode (the F natural). I guess to sum up, I was suggesting to light that maybe a different take on looking/hearing a scale without depending on the "anchor", just may make things easier overall.

ANYWAY, this is a good discussion for me personally, in that I've forever been trying to grasp theory, and, admittedly I know I'm very weak in this area. Include the influences and teachers I've had in the mix (mostly the Berklee mix that confused, more than clarified things)- and you may see why I may look at things differently- may be a good thing or bad, I dunno, lol.
_______________________
I guess music theory can be so maddeningly frustrating because there are really no absolutes (to some, maybe so), and that's why it's called theory. Oh, i think I remember another point/idea I was trying to make. In Western music theory, the major scale is the foundation where pretty much everything flows from, and the root of the major scale is the tonal center. I think what I was driving at in my original post to light was, I was looking at light's post, and was thinking....hmmmm....I knew there was something wrong with the explanation, then I thought, how about just looking at the root note of every modal scale and make that the tonal center? I dunno, when I'm wrestling with an idea, I just try to step out of the box and try to look at things from different angles- easy, in this case, 'cause I'm not even *in* the box, really.
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/05/2008 5:37 am
Originally Posted by: light487I was correct but missing the point entirely.

Yes, that's a good way of stating it! :)

I am glad this thread helped you to better understand the modes.
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04/05/2008 6:58 am
Originally Posted by: SilimtaoAs you pointed out, Chris, a lot of confusion can lie in...I guess you can say semantics to a great degree.[/quote]
I'm not sure exactly what you mean here. What I said was that the wrong word was being used. I said that because using the word derived was more precise: Modes are derived from a scale.

And more than which words we used in which manner to communicate was at stake, also. We are seeking conceptual clarity in the understanding of the unique structure of each scale, mode or chord. In this case the modes of the major scale.
Originally Posted by: SilimtaoTo further clarify, I think we should say we're discussing Western/European music theory.[/quote]
That is indeed the only one I have an interest in discussing.

In response to my statement: However, just to be clear, there is no contradiction inherent in music theory. You replied:
Originally Posted by: Silimtao
Depends who you talk to.[/quote]
In this case I am talking to you. Can you show me one?
[QUOTE=Silimtao]
When I was at Berklee, we had classical music theorists who told us what was "wrong" with jazz/pop theory. I remember when we spent 2 weeks dissecting the Beach Boys' harmonies in "Surfer Girl" and what was "wrong" with it from a classical sense, and what was right with it in a "modern/jazz" sense. Then we would have a jazz guy come in and say, "forget that classical crap, this is jazz."

Classical theorists are mistaken when they claim that Beach Boys harmonies are "wrong".

The harmonies are what they are. Music theory only exists to identify, mentally organize, classify and categorize those harmonies (and all musical sounds in fact)".

What those classical theorists should have said is that Beach Boys harmonies do not conform to the standard of voice leading that classical composers used (no perfect fifth or octave motions, not too many consecutive thirds, etc.). But, of course, the Beach Boys don't have to conform to those standards. :)

That is what your classical theorists most likely meant when they mistakenly claimed the harmonies were "wrong".
[QUOTE=Silimtao]
I'll try to give an example- say you're playing in C major, and you're playing a G mixolydian scale over it; it will "fit" correct?

Music theory can tell you what notes are involved. What all the possibilities are, what the harmonies the resultant sound could create. What the possible chord progressions might be. It depends upon what notes you play and when. Just saying "this scale and that mode" is not even close to a complete description of a musical event.

But the larger point is that it is up to you to decide if it "fits". What is it supposed to "fit" anyway? Your intention (as player or composer).

For example, playing a C major scale over a C# major chord might "fit" if that creates the sound you are trying to achieve. Music theory can tell you what those objects are, and even show you (if you understand enough) why it will be dissonant as hell. Theory only tells you what it is, how you can understand it and relate it to the other musical concepts you know. Theory is only "wrong" when someone attempts to misidentify or mis-conceptualize something. For example, if you want to call the notes "c, e, g" a D major chord, then you are wrong. That is "bad theory".

Music Theory is the set of concepts that describes the nature of musical events.

It is the process of mentally indentifying the sounds that occur in music. We do this in order to build a consistent set of ideas to describe what happens in music.
[QUOTE=Silimtao]I guess music theory can be so maddeningly frustrating because there are really no absolutes (to some, maybe so), and that's why it's called theory.

This is wrong. There are absolutes. I have given you some in this post. It is an absolute that there are absolutes.

It is called theory because it is the conceptual organization of all the musical sounds we can hear. All those sounds are the concrete applications, the practice.
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Silimtao
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04/05/2008 5:59 pm
Hello Christopher,

I guess this is what you meant to some degree when we were talking about teaching, and you said something to the effect of getting a student to conceptualize what you were teaching, eh? :)

I'll only touch on a few things you've said, otherwise I'll sit here all day obsessing about it- which is not a a bad thing; it's exactly these type of discussions that make me think, and get a better understanding (but I have laundry to do :) ).

re: absolutes in music theory. When I said it depends, this goes back to what I learned (or didn't) at Berklee and lively, often heated discussions we Berklee students had with students from The Boston Conservatory (snobs, who'd sniff at us with their noses in the air and tell us everything that was "wrong" with be-bop/jazz/blues/rock- everything except classical- the only "real" music.)

I would unequivocally agree with you that there are absolutes- only if I agree that classical theory, strictly applied, is the only way of expressing music. However, I think music theory has evolved and expanded from the "original" classical music theory. For example, in in my improv class, and we were talking about passing tones, the instructor would say that the passing tone really doesn't fit classical theory, but it does if you play the passing tone off the beat, but would be wrong if played on the beat. This, along with "blue" notes being played can be reconciled with classical theory as long as we resolved the note to say the tonic or some other note within the mode/scale/key we were in. It was the "it's wrong but, if..." that would get me and the other players all the time.

You said something really important, that kind of underscores what I'm trying to get at:
What those classical theorists should have said is that Beach Boys harmonies do not conform to the standard of voice leading that classical composers used (no perfect fifth or octave motions, not too many consecutive thirds, etc.). But, of course, the Beach Boys don't have to conform to those standards.
And that's kind of my point about absolutes, or lack of them- to a hard-core classical theorist, there's no room for not "conforming"- because it doesn't follow the "rules" of what they rigidly adhere to. And I believe this is what can add to a lot of confusion; I have books on "classical" theory, and "modern/jazz" theory. Why the distinctions? This is a rhetorical question, as it really applies to me. I pore through a theory book written a hundred years ago, it tells me what I can/should do within the confines of what theory was accepted for at that point in time ; but then when I compare it to a "modern" theory book, there's always reference to classical theory of course, but then when I read what's "wrong" is "right", but only in a given context.

Hey, I think I've just had a breakthrough! I keep looking at "classical" vs. "modern" theory, but they are really one and the same!. Theory is just theory, and I've been looking at the old and the new as somehow diametrically opposed, when, in fact, the "new" is really just an extrapolation of the "old"! The two really fit together like pieces of a puzzle! I've been looking at theory with two minds; when studying classical theory, I'm in the mindset only from that given standpoint. Then when I look at modern theory, I'm looking at it from that given standpoint. But the two really fit together and is truly "one". Am I on the right track here? I kept separating the two and trying to reconcile it in my mind, when, in fact, there's nothing to reconcile. It's like I've been looking at a line drawn in the sand, and said "that's classical", then looked at another line, and said, "that's jazz"- when in fact, I should be seeing ONE line, because in the end, it really is. It was my (and many authors of theory) labeling one "classical" and another "jazz" that's given me this mental block all this time. Have I reached an "AHA!" moment here, Christoper? If I have, this is BIG for me, believe me. In talking to classically trained and jazz players, they've always made distinctions 'tween the old and the new, but, in fact, the "new" is just an extension of the "old"; it's not that the wheel was reinvented, the wheel is bigger maybe, but it's still a wheel. If you tell me I'm wrong in my thinking here, Christopher, I think my head may explode!
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light487
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04/05/2008 7:15 pm
I think it can be likened to the way the English language has evolved. You can separate the Old English (Shakespearean type language) from the post-modern English where everything has been cut down to the most convenient, simplistic (in some cases phonetic), "easier" to use forms. It's still the same language, like you say "one line" and a distinction can be made between the old and new but they are still one and the same language. Heck think of the way Science has evolved in the last 400 years, the same time-frame as Music and English within the context of this discussion, some things were at some stages considered to be "evil" and "blasphemes".. and now we have mind-blowing theories that incorporate God into science itself.

Pretty amazing really.. and yet so simple at the same time.
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Silimtao
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04/05/2008 7:41 pm
Originally Posted by: light487
Pretty amazing really.. and yet so simple at the same time.

Yes, and I can't believe I've been pounding my head all these years. Music theory can be a really heavy subject. This thread alone has brought a lot of things together in my head. Couldn't see the forest for the trees, but it's slowly coming together for me. It's been a lifetime journey for me- never ending, but at least I'm at a point in my life where I can simply enjoy music. AT one time, I wanted to be a professional musician- if it were possible, I still would. I know I've beaten a dead horse by saying this- but Berklee really killed music for me. For a "jazz" school to be so incredibly rigid just boggles my mind. But I still get alumnus newsletters, and now they have labs in Hendrix, Vai, you name it. I wish I had the benefit of what they have now back then. BUT, life moves on. I'm not crying in my milk. I still managed to have fun while there, met some incredible players, actually did learn something. But it was ONE thing that killed it for me- they FORCED me to change the way I picked, and I couldn't live with that. I doubt they do that now. Well, whatever.

Guess you can ignore my post in the Santana thread. :) And thanks for the feedback. Where was the internet when I need it? :(
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04/05/2008 7:50 pm
Yeh.. there's Jazz and then there's "Jazz".. Jazz in a band like David Letterman's Tonight Show band.. I forget the guy's name now.. he has a bald head and wears sun-glasses all the time and reminds me of Fozzie The Bear. :cool:

Anyway.. that's what I consider to be "formal Jazz".. this is more than likely what you were taught at Berkeley. Then there is Jazz like Hendrix, Vai, Satriani, and myself play.. we all just play music and then someone comes along and decides that we need to fit into a box/category. We don't conform to anything in particular so we get labelled with the broad term of Jazz.. or even better.. hehe.. Progressive Jazz.. are we really Jazz musicians in the "formal" sense of the term? HECK NO!! However, what else would you define as us being? :) Blues? Rock'n'roll? Haha.. all very broad and generally non-descript genres. :p
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jimmynitcher
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04/07/2008 2:38 pm
Can I just clarify something?

If I improvise over a backing in A a wh hs wh wh wh hs ws pattern (Dorian) starting on the A note of the 6th string then I am playing in A Dorian am I still playing A Dorian when I go down a couple of frets to the Ionian shape that starts on G Ionian?

Because if that is true then I could equally play the same things and call it an improvisation in G Ionian and play over a backing in G.

I have tried playing both keys (G and A) as a backing to the same pattern and the both sound ok - the G more obviously ok if you see what I mean - but without any prior knowledge of the sound it is meant to produce I'm not sure and I would like to be so I commit this all to memory and move on.

It has crossed my mind that maybe one could only said to be playing in one mode or another when one is actually playing the 18 box note shapes labelled in the lessons - I'm hoping that isn't the case.

thanks again (I have been studying the lessons) hard too I should say.

j :)
# 16
ren
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ren
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04/07/2008 3:02 pm
Well, yes... and no...

If you play in A Dorian and then switch to the G major (ionian) shape, you are still playing in A Dorian, or G Ionian - they're the same notes. You can play B Phrygian licks over a chord progression in the key of G major. You can try F# Locrian, but I can't recommend it... ;)

The secret to getting the sound is to emphasise different notes, so for example if you want to get a Lydian sound, ham up the sharp fourth... You should be aiming to get a modal sound rather than just using different shapes, and that comes from the theory behind the modes. Look at how the intervals of each mode relate to the parent major scale.

If you play the same lick in A dorian over a G major chord or a A minor chord, the result will be different. If you're improvising, some notes will sound more resolved than others... and that will change depending on the progression... experiment... :)

Check out my music, video, lessons & backing tracks here![br]https://www.renhimself.com

# 17
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/07/2008 3:30 pm
Originally Posted by: Silimtaore: absolutes in music theory. When I said it depends, this goes back to what I learned (or didn't) at Berklee and lively, often heated discussions we Berklee students had with students from The Boston Conservatory (snobs, who'd sniff at us with their noses in the air and tell us everything that was "wrong" with be-bop/jazz/blues/rock- everything except classical- the only "real" music.)[/quote]
OK, fair enough. I want to respond to this in a little more depth starting with a historical observation I've made.

The first people that really understood music in the conceptual sense were the ancient Greeks. Back when they were the first humans to build conceptual knowledge in an organized, systematic manner (back when they were discovering the basic principles of math, biology, science, philosophy - all that good stuff!)

We, of course, don't know exactly how their music sounded (no existing records - written ... or recorded :p ). But that is no matter. We do know the important parts. They started with the science of physics (the acoustic nature of sound) pitch-specific tones ("pure tones") and then they organized them in a way that is consistent with human hearing and thought. The basics of their diatonic scales and modes have changed a bit since 3000 years ago. But the fundamental ideas and approach are still the foundation of what we use to the present day. Not bad for a bunch of ancient old timers.

Unfortunately, even some of those old timers tried to incorporate some ridiculous, irrational ideas into the newly emerging science of sound and music. Pythagoras, in particular created a bizarre combination of loony mysticism and reality orientated math that resulted in an early form of numerology. Later this was picked up by Johannes Kepler who tried to incorporate geometry, astrology and music in his Musica Universalis (Music of the Spheres).

Then, there are the church modes of the Catholic Gregorian chants, in which the church tries to conceptualize music to fit it's "sacred needs". To be fair, they did organize the modes according to some scientific methods and principles. But also introduced the idea of "wrong notes" and "wrong orders" and in general "wrong ways to do things in music".

Even in the more enlighted Enlightment, we find theorists that are tainting their reality oriented observations with unnecessary, counter-productive addendums.

So, we wind up with a history of music theory that contains some crucial, invaluable information and systems of thought based on reality and proper conceptualiztion. But it is also intertwined with some irrational notions and contradictory ideas.

It is a self-appointed task of mine to rid music theory of the nonsense.
Originally Posted by: Silimtao
For example, in in my improv class, and we were talking about passing tones, the instructor would say that the passing tone really doesn't fit classical theory, but it does if you play the passing tone off the beat, but would be wrong if played on the beat.

That instructor was wrong. Passing tones DO fit into "classical theory"; they are called (imagine this) passing tones.

Further, there is not one single Bach, Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven, etc. sonata that follows this "rule". It could be regarded as a sort of "default setting" they used. But then as soon as it was established in any piece, they would introduce a variation that would put a passing tone on a strong beat.

Such a "rule" is useful in teaching beginning music theory. But only in the proper context. If this was introduced in a Berklee improv class I'd want my money back.
[QUOTE=Silimtao]
Hey, I think I've just had a breakthrough! I keep looking at "classical" vs. "modern" theory, but they are really one and the same!. Theory is just theory, and I've been looking at the old and the new as somehow diametrically opposed, when, in fact, the "new" is really just an extrapolation of the "old"! ... It was my (and many authors of theory) labeling one "classical" and another "jazz" that's given me this mental block all this time. Have I reached an "AHA!" moment here, Christoper?

Sounds like it. :)

My point in providing all that history earlier in this post lead to this summary.

What any theory is supposed to do is mentally identify and organize perceptual data. If the theory is not based on any perceptual data it is mere speculation. Theory is not something "disconnected" from reality. I realize there are some people that claim this is true. They are wrong. If a theory (or some part of it) is contradicted by perceptual data (i.e. reality), then the theory is wrong to that degree and needs to be modified.

When you hear, "It works in theory, but not in practice", what that means is, "I have a flawed theory, but I am unwilling to alter it so that it properly matches the facts of reality."

So, music theory is how we mentally identify and organize the perceptual data (the sound) of music. Music is, in a sense, the science of sounds organized in a very specific manner.

We are only interested in what is possible in physics (via the science of acoustics - the nature of sound) and what is valuable to humans (via the nature of hearing and thinking - conceptualization).

It is important to distinguish between science and convention.

Ever since the classical theorist started calling certain things "wrong" or "improper", there was sure to be a reaction the opposite direction. This eventually resulted in some other group (and eventually "rock and rollers") talking about "breaking the rules". :rolleyes:

So, you get the classical theorists suggesting that it is wrong to play certain notes in certain order. And then you get the reactionaries who claim to be "rebellous" because they are "rebelling" against the classical theorists. Which would be funny if not for the tragic fact that the reactionaries also wanted to throw out the science along with the stupid rules the classical theorists superimposed upon the science.

Again, music theory can tell you what the notes, scales, chords are. It can even help you organize and understand huge systems of notes, scales and chords. It can tell you that you are wrong if you want to call a major scale something other than what it actually is. It can tell you that you are wrong if you want to call a iii-I chord progression a resolution instead of a V-I.

But it can't tell you you have to play a major scale. It can't tell you you have to play a certain chord progression. That is not it's function.

I just thought of a new analogy: Music theory is like the principle of mathematical addition.

There are rules about how to add numbers. Once you pick two numbers to add together, then you get a certain, specific sum. This is like music theory. But the rules do not and cannot tell you which numbers to add together. That it up to you decide.
Christopher Schlegel
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# 18
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/07/2008 6:49 pm
Originally Posted by: jimmynitcherCan I just clarify something?

Absolutely. Always!

Consider this, if you play these notes:

a, b, c, d, e, f#, g

Then you are in the key of G major, as in you have a group of notes that form the G major scale starting on the 2nd scale degree. But which mode are you using?

The answer is: You don't know until and unless you identify which one of those notes you are currently labelling the root or 1st degree. It could be anyone of them, but is not necessarily one more than than the others until you pick a frame of reference.

So, until you pick a reference point, A Dorian is G Ionian for all practical purposes. It isn't until you pick a context to place those notes in that you can refer to what you are playing as a specific mode.

So I would say, does the backing track you are playing over emphasize the A as the primary bass note? If so then that part is suggesting A dorian. If the bass note emphasizes or resolves to another note (G for example), then it would be better to think of it as in G ionian.

Consider this group of notes:

c, d, e, f, g, a, b, c

If I played those notes while at the same time a bass player was playing a pattern of 1/8 note c's, then it would sound like I was playing ionian.

But if I played those notes while at the same time a bass player was playing a pattern of 1/8 note e's, then it would sound like I was playing phrygian.

Make sense? Everything depends upon context.

Each mode has a unique sound due to their unique system of intervals. But since they are all integrated with one another, they can also all be thought of as different fretboard patterns of each other, too.
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# 19
jimmynitcher
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jimmynitcher
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04/07/2008 9:15 pm
thanks Ren!
# 20

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