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Improvisation - Part 1

Mastering the modes is the best way to add color to your lead playing. All the great modern guitar players, from Satriani to Hammett to Vai, have a through command of the modes.

"Mode" is a musical term referring to the displacement of a scale if, for example a scale has five different notes, as the Pentatonic scale does, then it has five different modes.

Sooner or later the serious student of the guitar develops an interest in improvisation. This most stimulating activity need not, be confined to Jazz Improvisation, but can be practiced on all styles the student is able to appreciate and comprehend.

Jazz, Rock, Blues Folk and Country music all provide ample room for improvisation.

ModesIn ancient Greece the modes were the strong pylons upon which the Greeks built their musical bridges. They are certainly not recent inventions. As long ago as the 4th century B.C. Pythagoras and the Greek thinkers had derived a system which almost corresponds with the series of white keys on the present- day piano. It is not,therefore, surprising to find these ancient Greek modes gradually being recognized as important facets in our musical language. There is an undoubted fascination with these magical scales and one simply must be determined to work and be alert to the sounds they create and above all be patient.

How the modes work:

If we were looking at a piano keyboard we would notice that without the black keys there are 8 octaves of the C major scale. If you run your finger left to right along the white keys you will be playing , the scale of C major even though you happen to start on a note other than C. This musical fact is the essence of the modes. A scale can be played from any of it's notes to any other of it's without moving into another key. Actually if you were to play the scale of C major from F to F an octave higher you would be playing a nodal scale based on the key of C and the scale would be called F Lydian.

In each major scale there are seven modes because the major scale have seven different notes, if we were working with a pentatonic scale (containg five notes) we would have five modes to work with; one for each degree.

Learn the following table -Play a major scale from note 1 to note 1 above = IONIAN MODEPlay a major scale from note 2 to note 2 above = DORIAN MODEPlay a major scale from note 3 to note 3 above = PHRYGIAN MODEPlay a major scale from note 4 to note 4 above = LYDIAN MODEPlay a major scale from note 5 to note 5 above = MIXO-LYDIAN MODEPlay a major scale from note 6 to note 6 above = AEOLIAN MODEPlay a major scale from note 7 to note 7 above = LOCRIAN MODEPlay a major scale from note 8 to note 8 above = note 1 to 1All examles above are shown in the key of C major however the advancing guitarist should practice the modes in every key. The same formula works for each key:note 1 to 1 always = IONIANnote 2 to 2 always = DORIANnote 3 to 3 always = PHRYGIANnote 4 to 4 always = LYDIANnote 5 to 5 always = MIXO-LYDIANnote 6 to 6 always = AEOLIANnote 7 to 7 always = LOCRIANnote 8 to 8 always = note 1 to 1Each modes unique sequence of intervals creates a mode's unique musical "quality" or flavor.

The following descriptions are "intuitive" and are meant to serve only as a general guide to the modes' individual differences, resulting from their unique intervallic makeup.

Ionian ModeDescription The Ionian Mode is the scale you get when you play one octave up from the first note of a major scale. This mode has the same step-pattern as the major scale, which means, C Ionian is also the C major scale. This mode has a naturally occurring dominant fifth chord, which indicates the fifth note G (in C Ionian) can be used as a dominant chord; i.e. G7. This pure and happy sounding mode can be heard in nursery rhymes such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I'm a Little Tea Pot.

Quality Happy, Merry, Upbeat, CheerfulMusic Styles Rock, Country, Jazz, Fusion, Folk Songs, Nursery RhymesTonic Chords Unaltered major chords; i.e. C, C6, Cmaj7, Cmaj9, C6/9, Cadd9, Cmaj13Improvising Try the C Ionian over this chord progression: C, F, G7, CDorian ModeDescription The Dorian Mode is the scale you get when you play one octave up from the second note of a major scale. D Dorian starts on the second note of the C major scale, keep in mind the dorian mode refers to the second note of a major scale. Dorian is a minor sounding mode, which, is commonly used in Jazz, Blues and Irish folk songs. This mode can be heard in the folk song Scarborough Fair and the timeless classic Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. The Dorian Mode differs from the major scale because it has a flat 3rd (b3) and a flat 7th note (b7).

Quality Jazzy, Soulful, SophisticatedMusic Styles Jazz, Blues, Fusion, RockTonic Chords Unaltered minor chords; i.e. Dm, Dm6, Dm7, Dm7sus4, Dm9, Dm11, Dm13Improvising Try the D Dorian over this chord progression: Dm7, Fmaj7, Cmaj7Article Submission, Em7 .

Look for the second part of this article where we will continue our description of the modes.

Article Tags: Major Scale From, Scale From Note, Major Scale, Scale From, From Note, Dorian Mode, Second Note

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Mike Hayes is a guitar teacher, author, performing musician and session guitarist with over 30 years of professional experience. Find out more about how to learn guitar fast with his popular free ecourse, available at:=>

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