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Describing the type of mode to another musician.

Posted by Jimmersd 
Describing the type of mode to another musician.
February 27, 2017 08:07AM
I play guitar. Trying to stretch musically I dove a little deeper into theory. One thing about stringed instruments is that based on a guitar's design you can learn scales based on note letters, sharps, flats, placement of half steps or shapes and patterns. Obviously it's best to understand all of these concepts.

I'll use the example of the "Dorian or -ii mode of the Major Scale". For C major that would start on D 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7. That's a lot of words to tell someone what mode to play. Unlike a horn, on a guitar this corresponds several basic scale shapes on the neck. Depending on which string you root you can move that shape across or horizontally along the neck no matter the key.

Can you just say "D Dorian" which implies a Dorian type scale starting on D? You probably should identify the scale type but aren't the modes of different scales types Minor, Melodic Minor etc different from just vanilla Dorian?

My bass player who holds a minor in theory just gave me a blank stare when I said this.
Viz
Re: Describing the type of mode to another musician.
February 27, 2017 10:32AM
Yes, D Dorian is precisely the correct way to desribe 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8, or the "D-minor-with-a-raised-6th" scale, as you have outlined. The vanilla minor scale is actually the Natural Minor (1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8). Dorian is a sweeter scale than natural minor, due to that raised 6th - probably a mint choc chip. Definitely not neapolitan, that's something else entirely.
Re: Describing the type of mode to another musician.
February 27, 2017 10:58AM
LOL! Thanks for that.
Re: Describing the type of mode to another musician.
February 27, 2017 03:39PM
The first and most important concept to understand here is that keys (major and minor) and modes (Dorian etc.) are completely different things. One is NOT a subset of the other.

When you're first starting out, often someone will try and explain the Dorian mode to you as "the second mode of the major scale" (for example) to help you remember the notes, but this is not how it works in either practice or theory. It is just as correct for example to say that the major scale is the 7th mode of Dorian, or that Dorian is sixth mode of Lydian... You can go on forever with everything being a mode of this or that, but it is far better to think of them as separate things in their own right.

The Dorian mode consists of the notes D,E,F,G,A,B,C.
You can transpose this to start on other notes but the mode is still Dorian (unlike keys where, if you transpose them, they become different keys).
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