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Joined: 03/28/02
Posts: 569
Registered User
Joined: 03/28/02
Posts: 569
01/06/2003 8:00 pm
To write a song using a mode, you need to use chords constructed from the mode which you will use for the song.

I wrote a song the other day in G Dorian, and so I'll show it to you for purpose of illustration (please don't steal :)

The first thing we need to do is create our G Dorian Scale. The pattern for Dorian is whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half, whole. G is the root, up a whole step is A, then half to Bb, then whole to C, whole to D, whole to E, half to F, and whole back up to G. Notice that these are the same notes as are in F Major (Ionian), except the root is G.

G Dorian - G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F

The second thing we need to do is establish which chords we can use in G Dorian. We do this by writing out the scale and using the easy little "every other" method of forming chords. Using this method we come up with (which once again are the same chords that one could use in F Major):

G, Bb, D - G Minor
A, C, E - A Minor
Bb, D, F - Bb Major
C, E, G - C Major
D, F, A - D Minor
E, G, Bb - E Diminished
F, A, C - F Major

Now, since we're writing a song in which G Minor is the "focus chord", we need to write a progression that revolves around it. My song has two main parts, A and B respectively.

Part A - Gm7, Am(b6)

In Depth on Part A - the first part is just a vamp between G Minor Seventh and A Minor Flat Sixth. The reason that the 6th is flat in my A Minor chord is because an A Minor 6th chord contains A, C, E, and F#, but since we're in G Dorian, the key signature denotes that our F's are natural, and therefore our chords must reflect that.

Here's the tab of how I play the chords. Paste it in Notepad to see it correctly.

Soft Jazzy Feel


The rhythm I use is just a little arpeggiation, with a little stretch. I grab the G on the low E string with my thumb just because that's how I'm comfortable playing it... I use my thumb a LOT. The reason I include the 5th fret on the B string instead of the open E string is purely tonal.

Part B - Bb - C, Gm (Paste into Notepad to view correctly)

In Depth on Part B - Gm, C, Dm would be a 1-4-5 in Dorian. I switch the order of the chords to 4-5-1 to give it a 2-5-1 jazz feel and instead of the Dm (D, F, A), I substitute in a Bb (Bb, D, F). The Bb and C chords are each one half a measure and the Gm is one full measure. I could half opted for a full measure on Bb and C and two measures for G, but this way, I've seemingly upped the tempo, even though it's the same BPM.

Funk feel


Now this part is a little more difficult to explain how I play it because I use a slap/pop technique, but I'll try... Slap the Bb, then double slap the Bb and pop it's octave. One more slap to the Bb and then, double slap the C, a slight pause, then slap the C again and pop it's octave.
Slap the G, double slap the G, pop the octave, and then this is the hard part... mute the bottome three strings and pop with your thumb, index, middle, and catch the Bb on the pop with your ring finger, then slap the G, pop the octave, slap the D, and Pop the F and hammer on to G. It should be a fast "tat, tat, tat, Bb". This is a really simple rhythm except for the last part... Whew! I've been playing with a bassist friend and I've picked up a few of his tricks.

And for lead, I simply improvise in G Dorian, and there you have it, a modal song!

Main Points:
1. Decide on mode
2. Determine available chords
3. Make sure that the focus of you chord progression is your main chord
4. Experiment and have fun!!! I wasn't thinking, hey, I want to write a G Dorian song when I wrote this song, I just f****d around until I came up with it.

Damn, that was a long winded post, sorry for making you read all that... I really hope that helped clear up some things.

[Edited by TheDirt on 01-06-2003 at 02:03 PM]
"You must stab him in the heart with the Bone Saber of Zumacalis... well, you could stab him in the head or the lungs, too... and the saber, it probably doesn't have to be bone, just anything sharp lying around the house... you could poke him with a pillow and kill him."

- Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Universal Re-Monster