Modes of the Harmonic Minor scale


This lesson presupposes an undertanding of modes ( of the major scale).

If, you do not understand modes already, please take the time to look through the lessons at:
http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/scales/modes1.html
http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/scales/modes2.html
http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/scales/modes3.html

This lesson on modes is in three parts.

Part one consists of a general review of scales, a definition of modes, a derivation of the modes of the harmonic minor scale, and other pertinant information used in parts 2, and 3.

Part two covers a brief analysis of the modes individually, fretboard maps, associated chords, etc.

Part three gives some applications of these modes.

PART ONE

Recall that we defined a scale as:
a group of notes within an octave (and any octaves of those notes) usually played one at a time.

We can describe (define) a scale in any of these ways:
- by letters (representing specific pitches)
- by numbers (representing specific intervals)
- by step pattern (describing intervals from note to note)

We now define a mode (of a scale) as a scale within a family of scales that are related by their step patterns (and therefore also by their specific pitches).

Let's just jump in...

Recall that The harmonic minor scale has the following step pattern: W-1/2-W-W-1/2-m3-1/2, intervals 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7, and with root on C, the notes C-D-bE-F-G-bA-B-C.

We can derive the modes of a scale by using its step pattern. We do this by moving the first step of a step pattern to the end, and repeating until we return to the first scale we started with.

We now derive the modes of the harmonic minor scale (harmonic minor scale = W-1/2-W-W-1/2-m3-1/2).

W-1/2-W-W-1/2-m3-1/2 = harmonic minor scale
1/2-W-W-1/2-m3-1/2-W = Locrian nat.6
W-W-1/2-m3-1/2-W-1/2 = Ionian #5
W-1/2-m3-1/2-W-1/2-W = Dorian #4 (overtone minor)
1/2-m3-1/2-W-1/2-W-W = Spanish Major
m3-1/2-W-1/2-W-W-1/2 = Lydian #9
1/2-W-1/2-W-W-1/2-m3 = Altered Dominant bb7

* Alternate names for these scales follow below under the specific scales. (Some people just use 2nd mode of the harmonic minor, etc.)

Now taking these step patterns and (with the help of a transposition chart if necessary) turning them into an intervallic notation (numbers), we have:

harmonic minor scale = 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7
Locrian nat.6 = 1,b2,b3,4,b5,6,b7
Ionian #5 = 1,2,3,4,#5,6,7
Dorian #4 (overtone minor) = 1,2,b3,#4,5,6,b7
Spanish Major = 1,b2,3,4,5,b6,b7
Lydian #9 = 1,#2,3,#4,5,6,7
Altered Dominant bb7 = 1,b2,b3,b4,b5,b6,bb7

We define a major scale as a scale containing the notes
(intervals) 1,3,5.
(In other words, using the notes in the scale we can construct a major chord off the root note)

We define a minor scale as a scale containing the notes
(intervals) 1,b3,5.
(In other words, using the notes in the scale we can construct a minor chord off the root note)

We define a diminished scale as a scale containing the notes
(intervals) 1,b3,b5.
(In other words, using the notes in the scale we can construct a diminished chord off the root note)

We define an augmented scale as a scale containing the notes
(intervals) 1,3,#5.
(In other words, using the notes in the scale we can construct an augmented chord off the root note)

Comparing the above definitions with the scales (modes), we see that Spanish Major,and Lydian #9 are major scales. harmonic minor, and Dorian #4 are minor scales. Locrian nat.6, and Altered Dominant bb7 are diminished scales. Ionian #5 is an augmented scale.

Recall, that we can harmonize chords from the harmonic minor scale. we did this by stacking thirds to get the following chords:
in triads: i-iio-bIII+-iv-V-bVI-viio
in 7th chords: imaj7-ii7b5-bIIImaj7#5-iv7-V7-bVImaj7-viio7
in 9th chords: imaj9-ii7b9b5-bIIImaj9#5-iv9-V7b9-bVImaj7#9-viio7b9
in 11th chords: imaj11-ii11b9b5-bIIImaj11#5-iv9#11-V11b9-bVImaj7#9#11-viio7b11b9
in 13th chords: imaj11b13-ii13b9b5-bIIImaj13#5-iv13#11-V11b13b9-bVImaj13#11#9-viio7b13b11b9

In a similar proceedure to finding the modes from the step pattern, we can find the chords harmonized from the modes. the general proceedure is to move the first chord to the end of the list, and then renumber all the chords using the numbers/ intervals for the respective mode.

Here's an example: (going from harmonic minor chords to Locrian nat.6 chords )
Harmonic minor chords: i-iio-bIII+-iv-V-bVI-viio
first move the first chord to the end,
iio-bIII+-iv-V-bVI-viio-i
Renumber the chords using the numbers from Locrian nat.6 (Locrian nat.6 = 1,b2,b3,4,b5,bb6,b7), interpreting the bbvi as v,
io-bII+-biii-IV-bV-vo-bvii
These are the chords for the 2nd mode of the harmonic minor scale. We can continue doing this to find the chords for the other modes (I'll leave it up to you to derive the chords from mode to mode, in case you need proof).

Before discussing each mode, we'll consider an alternate (though more frequently seen) way of viewing modes.

Consider starting the harmonic minor scale on A, we can define the modes this way:
A-B-C-D-E-F-G#-A = A-Harmonic minor
B-C-D-E-F-G#-A-B = B-Locrian nat.6
C-D-E-F-G#-A-B-C = C-Ionian#5
D-E-F-G#-A-B-C-D = D-Dorian #4
E-F-G#-A-B-C-D-E = E-Spanish Major
F-G#-A-B-C-D-E-F = F-Lydian #9
G#-A-B-C-D-E-F-G = G#-Altered Dominant bb7

We find the following chords by stacking thirds for Harmonic minor:
in triads: Am-Bo-C+-Dm-E-F-G#o
in 7th chords: Am/maj7-Bm7b5-Cmaj7#5-Dm7-E7-Fmaj7-G#o7
in 9th chords: Am/maj9-Bm7b9b5-Cmaj9#5-Dm9-E7b9-Fmaj7#9-G#o7b9
in 11th chords: Am/maj11-Bm11b9b5-Cmaj11#5-Dm9#11-E11b9-Fmaj7#9#11-G#o7b11b9
in 13th chords: Am/maj11b13-Bm13b9b5-Cmaj13#5-Dm13#11-E11b13b9-Fmaj13#11#9-G#o7b13b11b9

We can consider the above (2 paragraphs) to be in the form of relative modes (analagous to relative major and minor, see major scale's lesson). Whereas the previous examples could be seen as parallel modes (all starting from a common 1).

So from relative modes we gain a sense of how the modes progress through a key (in what order they follow one another). We can also get that from the step pattern. From parallel modes we gain an understanding of the different mood the mode brings us.

It is much easier to hear the differences between modes when playing them in parallel (from the same root note) then when playing them relative (in same key).

And last, we recall that we can create progressions from groups of chords. We can create modal progressions (progressions that come out of /go with the mode) out of chords from the mode.

Modes of the Harmonic minor scale, pt.2

We now consider each mode:

HARMONIC MINOR

|-1|--|-2|b3|--|-4|--|-5|b6|--|--|-7|-1|
|-5|b6|--|--|-7|-1|--|-2|b3|--|-4|--|-5|
|b3|--|-4|--|-5|b6|--|--|-7|-1|--|-2|b3|
|--|-7|-1|--|-2|b3|--|-4|--|-5|b6|--|--|
|-4|--|-5|b6|--|--|-7|-1|--|-2|b3|--|-4|
|-1|--|-2|b3|--|-4|--|-5|b6|--|--|-7|-1|

harmonic minor scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|-2-|b3-|---|-4-|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|

harmonic minor scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|---|-2-|b3-|---|-4-|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|---|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|

I've previously described the Harmonic minor scale in detail (see http://simianmoon/snglstringtheory/scales/harmmin.html). The the harmonic minor scale is heard in forms of western and eastern musics. It's step pattern is W-1/2-W-W-1/2-m3-1/2. We can represent its intervals as 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7. we can see it is a minor scale (contains the notes 1,b3,5). With the root note on C, it is the notes C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-B-C. Some also list the harmonic minor scale as the Mohammedan scale.

We associate the following chords with the harmonic minor scale:
in triads: i-iio-bIII+-iv-V-bVI-viio
in 7th chords: imaj7-ii7b5-bIIImaj7#5-iv7-V7-bVImaj7-viio7
in 9th chords: imaj9-ii7b9b5-bIIImaj9#5-iv9-V7b9-bVImaj7#9-viio7b9
in 11th chords: imaj11-ii11b9b5-bIIImaj11#5-iv9#11-V11b9-bVImaj7#9#11-viio7b11b9
in 13th chords: imaj11b13-ii13b9b5-bIIImaj13#5-iv13#11-V11b13b9-bVImaj13#11#9-viio7b13b11b9

We can create progressions from these chords. we should include the i chord, and it should be the chord which the progression wants to resolve to (this is true of all modal progressions, replacing i with the appropriate one chord).

The most common harmonic minor progression is i-V-i.

LOCRIAN nat.6

|-1|b2|--|b3|--|-4|b5|--|--|-6|b7|--|-1|
|--|--|-6|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|-4|b5|--|
|b3|--|-4|b5|--|--|-6|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|
|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|-4|b5|--|--|-6|b7|
|-4|b5|--|--|-6|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|-4|
|-1|b2|--|b3|--|-4|b5|--|--|-6|b7|--|-1|

locrian nat.6 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|-6-|b7-|---|
|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|---|
|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|---|-6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|

locrian nat.6 "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|---|-6-|b7-|---|
|---|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|
|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|---|-6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|-6-|b7-|---|

The locrian nat.6 is the 2nd mode of the harmonic minor scale. The locrian nat.6 mode is very rarely heard. In the key of C, it would be the notes: B-C-D-E-F-G#-A-B (with strongest emphasis on the B note). Its step pattern is 1/2-W-W-1/2-m3-1/2-W. We can represent its intervals as 1,b2,b3,4,b5,6,b7. We can see it is a diminished scale (contains the notes 1,b3,b5). Some also lists the Locrian nat.6 scale as the Locrian #6 (sic).

We associate the following chords with the locrian nat.6 mode:
triads: io-bII+-biii-iV-bV-vio-bvii
7th chords: i7b5-bIImaj7#5-biii7-iV7-bVmaj7-viio7-bviimaj7
9th chords: i7b9b5-bIImaj9#5-biii9-iV7b9-bVmaj7#9-vio7b9-bviimaj9
11th chords: i11b9b5-bIImaj11#5-biii9#11-iV11b9-bVmaj7#9#11-vio7b11b9-bviimaj11
13th chords: i13b9b5-bIImaj13#5-biii13#11-iV11b13b9-bVmaj13#11#9-vio7b13b11b9-bviimaj11b13

There aren't any common progressions for the locrian nat.6 mode, as it is not used much. You can make up your own, but because of the tritone in the tonic chord (b5), there is a restless feel in the root chord that makes it tend to not feel resolved.

IONIAN#5

|-1|--|-2|--|-3|-4|--|--|#5|-6|--|-7|-1|
|--|#5|-6|--|-7|-1|--|-2|--|-3|-4|--|--|
|--|-3|-4|--|--|#5|-6|--|-7|-1|--|-2|--|
|--|-7|-1|--|-2|--|-3|-4|--|--|#5|-6|--|
|-4|--|--|#5|-6|--|-7|-1|--|-2|--|-3|--|
|-1|--|-2|--|-3|-4|--|--|#5|-6|--|-7|-1|

Ionian#5 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|---|---|#5-|-6-|---|
|-2-|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|#5-|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|

Ionian#5 "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|---|#5-|-6-|---|
|---|-2-|---|-3-|-4-|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|#5-|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|---|---|#5-|-6-|---|

The Ionian#5 is the 3rd mode of the harmonic minor scale. In the key of C, it would be the notes: F-G#-A-B-C-D-E-F (with strongest emphasis on the F note). Its step pattern is W-W-1/2-m3-1/2-W-1/2. We can represent its intervals as 1,2,3,4,#5,6,7. We can see it is an augmented scale (contains the notes 1,3,#5).Some also lists the Ionian #5 scale as the Ionian augmented scale.

We associate the following chords with the Ionian#5 mode:
triads: I+-ii-III-IV-#vo-vi-viio
7th chords: Imaj7#5-ii7-III7-IVmaj7-#vo7-vimaj7-vii7b5
9th chords: Imaj9#5-ii9-III7b9-IVmaj7#9-#vo7b9-vimaj9-vii7b9b5
11th chords: Imaj11#5-ii9#11-III11b9-IVmaj7#9#11-#vo7b11b9-vimaj11-vii11b9b5
13th chords: Imaj13#5-ii13#11-III11b13b9-IVmaj13#11#9-#vo7b13b11b9-vimaj11b13-vii13b9b5

DORIAN #4

|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|#4|-5|--|-6|b7|--|-1|
|-5|--|-6|b7|--|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|#4|-5|
|b3|--|--|#4|-5|--|-6|b7|--|-1|--|-2|b3|
|b7|--|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|#4|-5|--|-6|b7|
|--|#4|-5|--|-6|b7|--|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|
|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|#4|-5|--|-6|b7|--|-1|

dorian #4 mode "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|#4-|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|

dorian #4 mode "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|#4-|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|
|---|-2-|b3-|---|---|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|#4-|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|

The dorian #4 mode is the 4th mode of the harmonic minor scale. In the key of C, it would be the notes: D-E-F-G#-A-B-C-D (with strongest emphasis on the D note). Its step pattern is W-1/2-m3-1/2-W-1/2-W. We can represent its intervals as 1,2,b3,#4,5,6,b7. We can see it is a minor scale (contains the notes 1,b3,5). Some also lists the Dorian #4 scale as the overtone minor scale.

We associate the following chords with the dorian #4 mode:
triads: i-II-bIII-#ivo-v-vio-bVII+
7th chords: i7-II7-bIIImaj7-#ivo7-vmaj7-vi7b5-bVIImaj7#5
9th chords: i9-II7b9-bIIImaj7#9-#ivo7b9-vmaj9-vi7b9b5-bVIImaj9#5
11th chords: i9#11-II11b9-bIIImaj7#9#11-#ivo7b11b9-vmaj11-vi11b9b5-bVIImaj11#5
13th chords: i13#11-II11b13b9-bIIImaj13#11#9-#ivo7b13b11b9-vmaj11b13-vi13b9b-bVIImaj13#5

SPANISH MAJOR

|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|--|-5|b6|--|b7|--|-1|
|-5|b6|--|b7|--|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|--|-5|
|--|-3|-4|--|-5|b6|--|b7|--|-1|b2|--|--|
|b7|--|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|--|-5|b6|--|b7|
|-4|--|-5|b6|--|b7|--|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|
|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|--|-5|b6|--|b7|--|-1|

Spanish Major "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|b7-|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|

Spanish Major "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|-5-|b6-|---|b7-|
|---|---|---|-3-|-4-|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|b7-|

The Spanish Major mode is the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale. The Spanish Major mode is most often heard in classical, flamenco, latin musics, and metal. In the key of C, it would be the notes: E-F-G#-A-B-C-D-E (with strongest emphasis on the E note). Its step pattern is 1/2-m3-1/2-W-1/2-W-W. We can represent its intervals as 1,b2,3,4,5,b6,b7. We can see it is a major scale (contains the notes 1,3,5). Some also lists the Spanish major scale as the Mixolydian b9 b13 scale, dominant 7 {b9,b13} scale ,the spanish scale, the jewish scale. It has also been called Major Phrygian, Jewish, Spanish, Spanish Gypsy, Spanish Phrygian, Mixolydian b9 b13, and Phrygian Major.

We associate the following chords with the Spanish Major mode:
triads: I-bII-iiio-iv-vo-bVI+bvii
7th chords: I7-bIImaj7-iiio7-ivmaj7-v7b5-bVImaj7#5-bvii7
9th chords: I7b9-bIImaj7#9-iiio7b9-ivmaj9-v7b9b5-bVImaj9#5-bvii9
11th chords: I11b9-bIImaj7#9#11-iiio7b11b9-ivmaj11-v11b9b5-bVImaj11#5-bvii9#11
13th chords: I11b13b9-bIImaj13#11#9-iiio7b13b11b9-ivmaj11b13-v13b9b-bVImaj13#5-bvii13#11

The most common phrygian progression is I-bII. Again we can create Spanish major progressions out of any of the above chords (which should include and resolve to the I).

LYDIAN #9

|-1|--|--|#2|-3|--|#4|-5|--|-6|--|-7|-1|
|-5|--|-6|--|-7|-1|--|--|#2|-3|--|#4|-5|
|#2|-3|--|#4|-5|--|-6|--|-7|-1|--|--|#2|
|--|-7|-1|--|--|#2|-3|--|#4|-5|--|-6|--|
|--|#4|-5|--|-6|--|-7|-1|--|--|#2|-3|--|
|-1|--|--|#2|-3|--|#4|-5|--|-6|--|-7|-1|

lydian #9 mode"E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|
|#4-|-5-|---|-6-|---|
|---|#2-|-3-|---|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|

lydian #9 mode"A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|#4-|-5-|---|-6-|---|
|---|---|#2-|-3-|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|
|#4-|-5-|---|-6-|---|

The lydian #9 mode is the 6th mode of the harmonic minor scale. In the key of C, it would be the notes: F-G#-A-B-C-D-E-F (with strongest emphasis on the F note). Its step pattern is m3-1/2-W-1/2-W-W-1/2. We can represent its intervals as 1,#2,3,#4,5,6,7. We can see it is a major scale (contains the notes 1,3,5). Some also lists the Lydian #9 scale as the Lydian #2 scale.

We associate the following chords with the Lydian #9 mode:
triads: I-#iio-iii-#ivo-V+vi-VII
7th chords: Imaj7-#iio7-iiimaj7-#iv7b5-Vmaj7#5-vi7-VII7
9th chords: Imaj7#9-#iio7b9-iiimaj9-#iv7b9b5-Vmaj9#5-vi9-VII7b9
11th chords: Imaj7#9#11-#iio7b11b9-iiimaj11-#iv11b9b5-Vmaj11#5-vi9#11-VII11b9
13th chords: Imaj13#11#9-#iio7b13b11b9-iiimaj11b13-#iv13b9b-Vmaj13#5-vi13#11-VII11b13b9

Altered Dominant bb7

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|b4-|---|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|-1-|
|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|b4-|---|b5-|---|
|b3-|b4-|---|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|b4-|---|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|b4-|---|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|b4-|---|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|-1-|

Altered Dominant bb7 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|
|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|---|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|

Altered Dominant bb7 "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|

The Altered Dominant bb7 mode is the 7th mode of the harmonic minor scale. In the key of C, it would be the notes: G#-A-B-C-D-E-F-G (with strongest emphasis on the G note). Its step pattern is 1/2-W-1/2-W-W-1/2-m3. We can represent its intervals as 1,b2,b3,b4,b5,b6,bb7. We can see it is a diminished scale (contains the notes 1,b3,b5). Some also lists the Altered dominant bb7 scale as the Altered no 7th scale.

We associate the following chords with the Altered Dominant bb7 mode:
triads: io-biii-biiio-bIV+-bv-bVI-bbVII
7th chords: io7-biimaj7-biii7b5-bIVmaj7#5-bv7-bVI7-bbVIImaj7
9th chords: io7b9-biimaj9-biii7b9b5-bIVmaj9#5-bv9-bVI7b9-bVIImaj7#9
11th chords: io7b11b9-biimaj11-biii11b9b5-bIVmaj11#5-bv9#11-bVI11b9-bVIImaj7#9#11
13th chords: io7b13b11b9-biimaj11b13-biii13b9b-bIVmaj13#5-bv13#11-bVI11b13b9-bVIImaj13#11#9

Modes of the Harmonic minor scale, pt.3

CREATING MODAL PROGRESSIONS

Taking the chords from a mode, we can create progressions from them. We can use these progressions to solo over and/or compose songs with.

ex. From Spanish Major we could take the two chords I,bII and create a vamp I-bII to solo over in I-Spanish Major.

This is a good way to practice playing the modes, creating melodies with a specific mode, train your ears to sound, and build up a knowledge of specific progressions that go with the specific modes. looking for a good place to use such knowledge? You could analyze songs you know (turn chords from letters into numbers, so C-F = I-IV) and then find scales/modes that would go with the progressions. You could find new songs with a TAB search of some kind (try www.harmony-central.com for TAB or maybe www.tabcrawler.com).
Or, if you're the least bit into jazz, I fully recommend picking up a copy of "The Real Book" (old or new editions). - no, I don't get any kickbacks from them, it's a standard book used by most jazz musicians.

Speaking of jazz for a moment. One of the most common applications is to think of modes and individual chords in a context. That is to say that there is a relationship between the chord and scale and they use that in choosing a scale to solo with over the changes. They simplest approach (after looking at the key, and playing that major scale) is to look at the particular chord, and play a corresponding scale. So for example over a Gm/maj7 chord, you could/would play G-harmonic minor (over imaj7 play i-harmonic minor). You would do this chord by chord.
Sometimes for one chord, there are several possibilities. It comes down to experimentation to figure out which sounds better in a given moment (sometimes analyzing other chords around the chord can give further context/clues, but right now we're considering the school of thought which looks at only one chord at a time).So here are some chord/scale correspondances with these modes and the modes of the major scale:

CHORD    -    TYPE OF SCALE TO USE

major         use ionian, lydian, mixolydian, Spanish Major, Lydian #9
7             use mixolydian, Spanish Major
maj7          use ionian or lydian, Lydian #9
7/11          use mixolydian, spanish major
maj7/#11      use lydian, lydian #9
maj7/11       use ionian
9	      use mixolydian
7b9	      use Spanish major
maj9	      Use ionian, lydian
maj7#9	      Use Lydian #9

minor         use aeolian, dorian, phrygian, harmonic minor, dorian #4
m7            use aeolian, dorian, phrygian, dorian #4
m/maj7	      Use harmonic minor
m9            use aeolian, dorian , dorian #4
m/maj9	      use harmonic minor
m7b9          use phrygian
m11	      use aeolian, Dorian
m9#11	      use Dorian #4
m11b9	      use phrygian
m/maj11	      use harmonic minor

o             use locrian, locrian nat.6, altered dominant bb7
m7b5          use locrian, locrian nat.6
o7	      use altered dominant bb7

+	      Use Ionian#5
maj7#5	      Use Ionian #5
maj9#5	      Use Ionian #5

Some related directions from here:
1.) Seeing how a chord shape fits in a scale shape (or a scale shape fits around a chord shape), and how that relates to their intervals.
2.) looking at a single chord with a relative mode.
3.) looking at larger sections of chords for context (looking at progressions).
4.) Considering parallel movement of intervals or chord voicings within a mode.

So for the first one. Recall, that the Ionian and Lydian modes can have a major seventh chord built off their root notes. We compare the same shape of scale and chord:

ionian mode"E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|
|-2-|---|-3-|-4-|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|
|-3-|-4-|---|-5-|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|

lydian mode"E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|
|#4-|-5-|---|-6-|
|-2-|---|-3-|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|
|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|

lydian #9 mode"E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|
|#4-|-5-|---|-6-|---|
|---|#2-|-3-|---|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|

major seventh chord "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|---|
|---|-5-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|

We note that the chord shows more notes than we can play at any one instant, but we often use such patterns for creating arpeggios, or voicings within a set number of frets. By comparing the intervals (numbers), we can see that the maj7 chord is contained within the scales (the same intervals are available in both chord and scale), we can use such information ( an overlapping of these maps) to gain a context of connectedness between arpeggios and scalar runs, if such a thing appeals to us. There are times when we play melodic bits in some shape or another (boxes, lead patterns, etc.), and it's a good thing to know where the chords are in relation to the notes we're playing. On the other hand it's always possible to take any idea, and let it stiffle your imagination/creativity. And often, once someone has gotten used to position playing, they feel "trapped in the box" as it were. Get what you can from it, and don't let it convince you that those are the only patterns that can be created or that you even need a pattern. Hopefully, you are building a bridge between your ears, eyes, mind , and fingers so that you can express what is inside your head. You can do this by singing every note that you play. Over time you will develop that connection. But the acronym GIGO fits here, Garbage in garbage out. You shouldn't expect to get out of your fingers what you haven't put into them. If all of your practice/study has been in one or two shapes, then you really shouldn't expect to be able to improvise even the same notes in another part of the neck in a different shape. Likewise, if you learn to sightread in only 1rst position (frets 0-4), you should not expect to be able to fluently play something written for frets 12-15 (without taking the time to figure out where the notes are). Having said that, these lessons are a context to get you started and not an end-all be-all situation themselves. You would do well to ask your self after any lesson, "now how can I apply this to my music, and where can i take this from here".

Moving on, the mixolydian mode, and the Spanish major mode can be seen as having a dominant seventh chord built off their roots.

mixolydian mode "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|
|-2-|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|---|

Spanish Major "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|b7-|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|

dominant seventh chord "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|
|---|---|-3-|---|---|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|---|

As an exercise you could try fluttering back and forth between chordal and non-chordal tones in the scale/mode.
ex.
(1-2-1)-(3-4-3)-(5-6-5)-(b7-1-b7)-1 ascending from bass strings
or
[starting at top strings](1-2-1)-(b7-6-5)-(4-3-4)-(5-4-3)-1
descending.

Recall, that the minor seventh chord can be built off the root notes of Aeolian, phrygian, dorian, and dorian #4 modes.

aeolian mode "E-shape" (root note on 6th string)

|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|b7-|
|-2-|b3-|---|-4-|---|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|

dorian mode "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|
|-2-|b3-|---|-4-|---|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|---|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|

phrygian mode "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|-5-|b6-|---|b7-|
|b3-|---|-4-|---|
|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|

dorian #4 mode "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|#4-|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|

minor seventh chord "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|---|---|b3-|
|-5-|---|---|b7-|
|b3-|---|---|---|
|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|-5-|---|
|-1-|---|---|b3-|

You can build a half-diminished seventh chord (m7b5) off the root of the locrian, and locrian nat.6 modes.

locrian mode "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|---|b6-|---|b7-|
|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|
|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|

locrian nat.6 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|-6-|b7-|---|
|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|---|
|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|---|-6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|

half-diminished seventh chord "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|---|---|b3-|
|---|---|---|b7-|
|b3-|---|---|b5-|
|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|b5-|---|---|
|-1-|---|---|b3-|

We can build a Fully diminished seventh chord (o7) off the root note of the altered dominant bb7 mode.

Altered Dominant bb7 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|---|b6-|bb7|---|---|
|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|---|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|bb7|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|

Diminished Seven Chord "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|bb7|---|---|
|b3-|---|---|b5-|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|---|
|---|b5-|---|---|bb7|
|-1-|---|---|b3-|---|

And we can build a Major seventh augmented fifth chord (maj7#5) off the root of the Ionian #5 scale.

Ionian#5 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|---|---|#5-|-6-|---|
|-2-|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|#5-|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|

maj7#5 "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|---|#5-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|---|---|#5-|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|

2.) Say i have a imaj7 chord (say Gm/maj7), I would normally play I-harmonic minor over that. But I could also play a ii-Locrian nat.6 (A--Locrian nat.6), III-Ionian #5 (B-ionian #5) over it, or a iv-dorian #4(D-dorian #4) over it, how about a vii-altered dominant bb7 (F#-altered dominant bb7), or a V-Spanish major (D-Spanish major)? They all work, and give different emphasis to the same collection of notes (thus evoking slightly different moods from the same notes). In order to use such an approach, you need to understand not only what chords are built off the root of a scale, but in other positions as well.

Well, my suggestion for all this would be to record yourself playing progressions from specific modes, and then play around with it. Try soloing by chord, by a couple of chords, by the full progression, by key, tinker with outside playing. And enjoy yourself. If you got this far - give yourself a break and have some fun (you've earned it).

Peace,
Christopher Roberts
snglstringtheory@aol.com


How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html

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Last updated October 17, 2003
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