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Lyle Ronglien >> Understanding Modes >>

Understanding The Modes - part 3

 Lyle: In this lesson, you'll work with 3 different jam tracks, all which are in different keys. You'll play several modes over each jam track to help you understand when you can use the modes. Here's an audio sample of the 3 different types of jams you'll work with:

lesson sample

Lyle: Here's the first jam track you'll need to use:

Looping Sound Clip 1

Lyle: This jam track is based around the F#7 chord, which is a dominant chord. When you have a groove or jam over a dominant chord, you can use the Mixolydian mode. In this case, the F# Mixolydian.

Lyle: The Mixolydian is the 5th mode of a major scale. It's almost identical to a major scale formula, only the 7th degree is flatted, b7.

Barry: How do you know which chords are dominant?

Lyle: Barry, the dominant chords are like A7, D7, G9, B13. They are built from a major triad and a flatted 7th added: 1 - 3 - 5 - b7.

Barry: Ok, thanks.

Lyle: Here's an arpeggio, or every other note of the F#7 Mixolydian:

Lyle: In the pattern above, I started on the b7, then 2 or 9, then 3rd, 5th, b7, root.

Lyle: When you see a G7, B7, E7, these are all dominant chords. G9, B9 A9 are also dominant chords, as well as 13ths.

Buud: So they're "Dominant 7ths" which can only be used as a "V" chord right?

Lyle: Right, for the most part. There are what's called secondary dominants. Rules are made to be broken....even in music theory.

Buud: Say more about secondary dominants please.

Lyle: The iii chord, which is minor, can be changed to dominant, even the ii chord, but most cases, you treat the dominant chord as a V chord.

Buud: How do you convert a ii or a iii chord to a dominant? What do you add to the chord formula?

Lyle: Easy, the ii and iii chords are just minor 7ths - 1, b3, 5, b7. Raise the 3rd degree from a b3 to a maj 3: 1, 3, 5, b7 and you'll have a dominant.

Lyle: Here's a lick combining the Mixolydian and arpeggio:

Lyle: If our jam is over the F#7 chord, then it's the V chord of what key?

robert: C#?

eric: B?

Lyle: eric's got it - B major. This means you can play a B major scale over the jam.

Lyle: The major scale IS a mode. It's called the Ionian mode. Hear how the B Ionian sounds just as good as playing the F# mixolydian to this jam?

Lyle: Since we have found out that we are in the key of B major for this jam, we can play other modes in the key of B maj. Just like F# Mixolydian is the 5th mode in the key of B. The 2nd mode in B is the C# Dorian.

Lyle: In this Dorian pattern, notice that there are notes on all strings at the 9th and 11th frets. I point this out to you because those are easy to play! Check out this next lick:

Lyle: Let's move to a new key. Load this new jam track:

Looping Sound Clip 2

Lyle: Now we're in G minor, This jam is built around G Dorian minor.

Lyle: Formula is: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7. This is the 2nd mode in the key of F major. So you could also play the F Ionian or major scale along to this jam.

Lyle: If you're jamming around the Dorian, G for this jam, then go up 2 frets and play a Phrygian mode:

Lyle: The A Phrygian mode is the 3rd mode of the F major scale. It's formula has 4 flatted notes in it, compared to a major scale. Formula: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7.

Johan: I've read somewhere that the 4th note of the Ionian mode is an "avoid" note, and therefore the Lydian with it's #4 is almost better sounding against the Root chord, do you agree with this?

Lyle: No, I like that raised 4th!!

Lyle: Speaking of Lydian...let's go there now. Load this new jam track:

Looping Sound Clip 3

Lyle: This jam is in a new key, It is built around an open A bass note, with two chords over the top - B and A.

Lyle: When you see two major chords a whole step apart, they are considered the 4 and 5 chords. In this case, the B is the V and the A is the IV chord in the key of E major. With the droning A bass note, you can treat the jam like it's in A Lydian, the 4th mode in the key of E.

Lyle: Here's what the E Ionian or major scale sounds like against the jam:

Lyle: If you've found the key you're in, you can play the relative minor. The C# Aeolian mode is the 6th mode in the key of E, or called the relative minor.

eric: Does that mean for any key that the 6th is also the relative minor?

Lyle: eric - yes.

Lyle: That's all for this lesson. If you would like further study on this topic or any other topic, email me at for info on how you can get your own customized guitar lessons like this using Riff Interactive technology. Your private lessons can be downloaded to your pc for anytime, anywhere study. I can even teach you how to play your favorite songs! Thanks and see you at the next lesson. - Lyle

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