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Thread: What theory taught me...

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    Stratologist Pierre's Avatar
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    Default What theory taught me...

    A while ago I started feeling weird about not knowing any theory. Sure I could use the Pentatonic, Major and natural minor to outline chords and the likes but without great techniques to hide it all by playing fast, it didn't really get me far. So I sat down with two Total Guitar magazines on the 'Satriani explaines modes' pages and tried to figure it out. Now the magazine put it in a VERY confusing way but I got it. Basically, a mode is when you start the Major scale from a different note:

    C D E F G A B C
    1 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2

    Still using the same root note, you place the intervals starting at the 6 other notes:
    1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2 1
    1/2 1 1 1 1/2 1 1
    1 1 1 1/2 1 1 1/2
    1 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1
    1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1 1
    1/2 1 1 1/2 1 1 1
    1 1 1/2 1 1 1 1 1/2 <- major scale back again!

    Each mode is like a different scale in itself, but they're fairly easy to figure out once you know the intervals. Minor modes all include the Pentatonic intervals ( 1 b3 4 5 b7) and major modes have a major third.
    The Mixolydian is a rocker's favorite because its b7 outlines a 7th/DOM7 chord very well. Slash is known for using it. The Dorian I believe is a favorite of ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, while Yngwie Malmsteem favors the Phrygian mode (sometimes refered to as having Spanish hints when played over minor chords, another thing to try and include in your playing!. The Aeolian is mostly known as the Natural Minor scale and is the second most favorite scale in rock. These three examples are minor scales and therefore sometimes the extra notes compared to the Pentatonic Minor can be used with good effects on certain chords, or to create different intervals.

    What these showed me, after trying the different flavors, is that it's not very important knowing SHAPES if you know the notes on the fretboard. Shapes limit you. I used to be stuck in the standard pentatonic shape, but you can do a lot more with all the notes that are on the fretboard that fall into that scale.

    I had two files ready to upload on here, one showing all the modes' shapes (one position only though) and some chord intervals as well as how they were constructed, and another with all the Pentatonic notes on the fretboard as well as some suggested uses. But I can't upload them anyway... I'll have the Net back Sunday since I'm going back to the land of Tulips so I'll try to post it. Tell me what you think so far guys, I'm thinking of writing a quick guide to beginner's guitar theory!

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    Heel Whacker tone4days's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    well - that is one way to approach modes ... and it is probably the fastest way to get them under your fingers given that you can reuse all the positions you know for major scales

    but for me it was a dead end .. i didnt get my EARS around the most musical use of modes until i looked at them from the point of view of the chords of the modes ... only when the modes were put into a musical context for me by hearing (not seeing) them against actual chords did i begin to play in a way that was even remotely interesting (to me) from a melodic point of view

    so instead of thinking of D dorian as somehow related to C (just because the notes are the same), i relate to it as the "D minor 7th" scale/mode

    but hey, whatever works for anyone is good for them -press on with your sharing and your exploration - and good luck!

    have fun
    t4d
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    "no seymour - no tone ... know seymour - know tone!"

    Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?" - James Madison - Federalist #14

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    yeah theory is good but rules wer made to be broken

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Knowing modes is a beginning, but thats about it. The problem is that too many ppl apply them to chords during improv that are obvious. For example a D dorian played against a D minor 7th chord. The problem is that it leads to pure diatonic humdrum. Which is fine for beginners since you won't have to worry about playing too many "wrong" notes. But you will know that you've truly arrived when you start using chromaticism in your playing.

    Unless you use modes in a less than obvious way in your playing you will miss out on some cool intervals that can really spice up your playing like +9th, b5ths, +5ths, +11th and b13ths. Check out players like Frank Gambale to see what I'm talking about.
    Last edited by Osensei; 12-01-2006 at 04:41 AM.
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    Heel Whacker tone4days's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    i aspire one day to elevate my playing to humdrum ... once i overcome my uncanny ability to play wrong notes i think i will be on my way to truly ordinary



    and yeah, gambale is a killer player ... when he busts out those killer sweeps and amazing lines, it just sounds like a blur of sound to me ... to be honest, i cant identify what he plays as 'modal', per se .. but i sure know i like it !!

    t4d
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    "no seymour - no tone ... know seymour - know tone!"

    Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?" - James Madison - Federalist #14

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    The thing with modes is that most people approach them as a relative tool. They always think of them in relation to their "parent" scale.

    Modes are much more valuable when you take the time to learn them as their own scale, simple because of their different tonal properties.
    Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by tone4days View Post
    i aspire one day to elevate my playing to humdrum ... once i overcome my uncanny ability to play wrong notes i think i will be on my way to truly ordinary


    t4d
    I wouldn't call you humdrum by a stretch TONE! I point to Gambale as an example of the next logical step beyond mere modal playing! He uses chromatic elements in his playing that "conventional" modal treatments fail to render. I hate to keep preaching the same sermon. In other words, prepare to read a run-on sentence.

    Once you analyse a given chord structure to include all of the possible harmonic extensions beyond the first octave then certain notes which are normally considered accidentals start to reveal themselves as part of the extended harmonic structure of the given chord. Thats how we know that we can include certain intervals like: b9ths, 9ths, +9ths, 11ths, +11ths, b13ths and 13ths against certain chords.

    The way that many players use modes fails to incorporate these key intervals which can be used to create some fantastic chromatic licks as well as some stunning resolutions!
    Last edited by Osensei; 11-30-2006 at 12:13 PM.
    These horse pills really take the edge off! Take 4 of em and that yellow gateway over there opens for da wolfman! -- Carl, ATHF

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    So, for example if you are playing in E and playing an E chord tone riff, mixing in a F# with the E B G# tones would add some +9 flavor. Or adding in an A would give +12 flavor. A b13th would just be adding a G# at the next higher octave right?
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    you got your spelling a bit off ... the A is the 11th not the "+12" ... the b13 is "C" ... but yes, that is the way the 'numerics' works on this notion

    yeah, osensei .. i have those aspects (adding the upper altered odds) in my head just fine .. i just cant seem to get them to come out in my playing very frequently and never without it sounding kinda 'forced' ... my ears just arent hip yet ... one day ...
    Last edited by tone4days; 11-30-2006 at 12:36 PM.
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    "no seymour - no tone ... know seymour - know tone!"

    Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?" - James Madison - Federalist #14

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Toad View Post
    So, for example if you are playing in E and playing an E chord tone riff, mixing in a F# with the E B G# tones would add some +9 flavor. Or adding in an A would give +12 flavor. A b13th would just be adding a G# at the next higher octave right?
    Take the E major scale in your example up to 2 octaves and count up to 13:
    1. E 2. F# 3. G# 4. A 5. B 6. C# 7. D# 8. E 9. F# 10. G# 11. A 12. B 13. C# D# E


    The F# you mention would be the 9th. F natural would be a b9 and G would be +9. Say b13th instead of +12. A b13th would be C natural. The 13th is C# and a +13 would be D. Also you are not limited by octave. You can use any of the extensions at any octave to spice up your melodic line. The octave is important however when you're playing chords as opposed playing melodic lines.

    Extensions are usually named in thirds. In other words, an extension is always some type of 9th, 11th or 13th (either lowered, natural or raised). We never say 10th or 12th because the 10th is the same note as the 3rd which is already used in the harmony. The same is true for the 12th, which is the 5th.
    Last edited by Osensei; 11-30-2006 at 01:06 PM.
    These horse pills really take the edge off! Take 4 of em and that yellow gateway over there opens for da wolfman! -- Carl, ATHF

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    and folded-in on itself the e major scale looks like this


    E - 1
    F# - 9
    G# - 3
    A - 11
    B - 5
    C# - 13
    D# - 7
    E - o

    the in-between notes would be

    F - b9
    G - #9
    A# - #11
    C - b13
    D - b7

    so there are no bad notes, only bad choices
    Last edited by tone4days; 11-30-2006 at 01:21 PM.
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    Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?" - James Madison - Federalist #14

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by tone4days View Post
    yeah, osensei .. i have those aspects (adding the upper altered odds) in my head just fine .. i just cant seem to get them to come out in my playing very frequently and never without it sounding kinda 'forced' ... my ears just arent hip yet ... one day ...
    That's what cats like Pat Metheny, Pat Martino and don't forget Benson are good at all day long! Unfortunately, they are Jazz cats and are therefore disregarded by Rockers. Few people realize how awesome these types of melodic ideas can sound through distortion or on overdrive! They can give a Rocker a big edge over the stuff other cats in the genre are coming up with. Cat's like Gambale get it though!
    These horse pills really take the edge off! Take 4 of em and that yellow gateway over there opens for da wolfman! -- Carl, ATHF

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    oh indeed - those guys are my heros ... and when you get those kinds of lines happenin' for a rock context, it only makes it more interesting ... derek trucks is another guy who get's it AND is VERY musical wih it
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    "no seymour - no tone ... know seymour - know tone!"

    Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?" - James Madison - Federalist #14

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    What about flat and sharp 5ths? How would you work those into modes?

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by sufferinrewind View Post
    What about flat and sharp 5ths? How would you work those into modes?
    b5 = #11
    #5 = b13

    iirc, they are found in modes of the melodic or harmonic minor
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    "no seymour - no tone ... know seymour - know tone!"

    Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?" - James Madison - Federalist #14

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by tone4days View Post
    b5 = #11
    #5 = b13

    iirc, they are found in modes of the melodic or harmonic minor
    Oh, ya. Sorry.

    The thing about modes is, I know what they are, but I don't really know how to utilize them in my playing. Then all this talk about adding 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths makes things even more interesting, but it also just makes me more confused.

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Osensei View Post
    I wouldn't call you humdrum by a stretch TONE!
    you are too kind, friend ... the example of me playin' a chorus of 'help the poor' on my soundclick page is about as good as it gets for me in an improv'd 'one shot' take ... some of it is reasonable, but i think that 'aspire to humdrum' is about right

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page...?bandID=225003



    cheers
    t4d
    Last edited by tone4days; 11-30-2006 at 01:41 PM.
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    "no seymour - no tone ... know seymour - know tone!"

    Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?" - James Madison - Federalist #14

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by sufferinrewind View Post
    Oh, ya. Sorry.

    The thing about modes is, I know what they are, but I don't really know how to utilize them in my playing. Then all this talk about adding 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths makes things even more interesting, but it also just makes me more confused.
    Modes are not gospel. I know Pat Martino says he never uses them. I use them to familiarize myself with the fretboard. To me they are excercises. For imporvisational purposes, I'm more interested in the harmonic structure of the chord. You know how the chord is spelled from the base chord all the way out to all of it's extensions. That tells me which notes are suitable for melodic treatment. Also, I focus on melodic line sythesis utilizing tools like the appogiatura (if I spelled it correctly). Also repetition or various methods of thematic restatement are devine.
    These horse pills really take the edge off! Take 4 of em and that yellow gateway over there opens for da wolfman! -- Carl, ATHF

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    Toadily Stratologist Guitar Toad's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Is this the way to think about the key-mode relationship:

    This is the way I've come the think of it right or wrong....but, typically, by most pop/rock a songwriting practices a song is composed in a key not in a mode. Although, The feel of the song can be manipulated by using the modes. Lets say you write the song using the key of E and the basic I IV V chords, E, A, B7. Then, you may want to change the feel write a bridge section with a different feel lets say a dorian mode of the key, then you would use F#m7, B, C# chords. Or you could make it a sound darker by going to the C# Aeolian.
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Toad View Post
    Is this the way to think about the key-mode relationship:

    This is the way I've come the think of it right or wrong....but, typically, by most pop/rock a songwriting practices a song is composed in a key not in a mode. Although, The feel of the song can be manipulated by using the modes. Lets say you write the song using the key of E and the basic I IV V chords, E, A, B7. Then, you may want to change the feel write a bridge section with a different feel lets say a dorian mode of the key, then you would use F#m7, B, C# chords. Or you could make it a sound darker by going to the C# Aeolian.
    You need to stop thinking in those terms. If you write an absolute piece of trash, I could analyse it for you and explain why it's theoretically valid. There is no one key anything is in. Music is in the moment. The curent note played against the current chord is the only thing that matters because it is the only thing that exists in physical time and space. Everything else is either passed are yet to become.
    These horse pills really take the edge off! Take 4 of em and that yellow gateway over there opens for da wolfman! -- Carl, ATHF

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