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Questions about scales and modes?


Melodious Thunk

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If you can memorize all your major scales then you know all the ecclesatical modes already.

 

But .... It depends on how you want to think of them. For example in my case I find it easy to think of Dorian Minor in terms of natural minor (Aeolian minor) with a sharp 6 because in use I alternate a lot between natural minor and dorian minor in a lot of solos.

 

Memorizing for the sake of memorizing is hard. but if you start learning musical devices that use the scales in question then it will make sense.

 

Remembering Mixolydian is a major mode played from 5 to 5 is easy but in the heat of battle it may be easier to thing of it as a major sacale with a flat 7 ( the Granddaddy of blue notes.)

 

The eventually goal is to learn all this stuff so you can forget it. The goal is to not think. But the only way to Mushin is through Yushin..... or the only way to instinctive automatic action is through detail repetitive practice.

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It's not daunting when you realize that the majority of scales are based on the major scale, but with a different "starting note."

For instance, C Ionian (major) = D Dorian = E Phrygian = F Lydian = G Mixolydian = A Aeolian (Natural Minor) = B Locrian.

Same notes.

 

Start with learning all your major and minor scales. Then it depends on what flavor of Jazz you're learning. There are many ways to go.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_musical_scales_and_modes

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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In the beginning just these:

 

12 major scales

Blues scales in the common keys (like in C, F, and G)

 

(Eventually you will need enough scales to cover the ii V I chord progression in all 12 Major keys and the ii V i in minor keys.)

 

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Well, yeah, if you want to play jazz, you should have all that stuff down - and not just theoretically, since scales, modes and chords are your "alphabet" and grammar, to string together into phrases.

There are few shortcuts; the best way to go in my experience is to transpose. For example, learn to play in D dorian, try all possible variants of intervals, chords, etc. - then do the same in F dorian, or B dorian.

Start with simpler bluesy pieces, and upgrade little by little to more complex stuff.

Needless to say, you need a teacher to follow and direct your progresses.

 

 

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I have asked this question of pro jazz players, answer was no. No need to think so much about Modes, nor of chord scales theory

This is new bulls*** created AFTER many of the giants could play quite well.

it is teachers explaining the phenomenon of an impeccable solo. Needless my friend needless; esp for jazz Organ. And I played a whole gig with a bad ass once upon a time ( sorry for shamless name dropping lol ) with cutting age Larry Young. He just played his ass off, and there was no consciousness of over intellectualized scales and modes. Again, I have spoken to a number ( not a huge number- heck there aint a whole lot of pro jazz players around! ) of pro jazz players, not guys like me who CAN play jazz, no, actual recognized pro jazz players who make a living at jazz. The ones I spoke to verified my intuition on the subject. Melody rhythm and da Blues are king. know your major minor diminished chromatic whole tone scales, absolutely. and your chords based on them... that is quite enough! -)

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Not since the days of Dixieland have we had notable jazz improvisers who did not know their scales. Dizzy and Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke, George Shearing, etc, etc, all knew their trade very well, practised their scales for hours. Intuitive soloing comes after expertise, for the few for whom it comes at all.

 

You can cover all the chords if you know (1) major scales (and how they convert to the modes you need); (2) melodic minor ascending scales (lower third of major scale); blues scales; and (4) diminished scales (not essential, both forms, add these later).

 

But, these are like having pots of paint in the cupboard: knowing your scales is just one point in learning to improvise well. Nothing will help better than a good teacher.

 

And I don't know Larry Young, or Dizzy, or Schoenberg, etc, etc. (Just their music.)

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Cmon Carlo, we are both good musicians, what is this round and round? I can play, you can play, right?

I did not say no scales. Eg When I used to practice a lot, I would spend many minutes just raising hell with a particular key center/ scale. in that enjoyable process, I was getting my ear marinaded and my fingers too, I am sure I played scales on all the different degrees, but unconsciously. I am just saying it is HARD enough to play the few scales times twelve I mentioned. Why add multiple of seven to that large number?

Add to the above this.. Just playing one killer Blues solo in your favorite key is difficult enough! Music is unendingly learning, absorbing the material. We both know this. I lean away from making it sound even more arduous.. is all! -)

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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It will take you a life time to master one key. But your gonna hafta master 11 other keys to do it. ;-)

That said,and because you mentioned jazz, work all the modes when you can. Eventually you'll get to what they call "altered scales" which is just theory's way of saying "Do whatever you want to." :laugh:

"A good mix is subjective to one's cilia." http://hitnmiss.yolasite.com
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Cmon Carlo, we are both good musicians, what is this round and round?

Not my idea for sure.

 

I did not say no scales.

I think you did

 

No need to think so much about Modes, nor of chord scales theory

This is new bulls*** created AFTER many of the giants could play quite well.

 

 

 

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You want to play "Balloons' by Kenny Werner and not think about modes? Oh right... good luck with that.

 

His chart looks like this:

 

Ballons

| G- | G phryg |

| Eb-7 | Eb aeol |

| C aeol | C-9 |

| Ab-9 | Ab aeol |

| F-7 | Db lyd |

| F-7 | Gb lyd |

| Ab-7 | E maj7 |

| Ab-7 | A maj7 |

| F-7 | G-7 | C#7 sus ||

 

 

And how about some Wayne Shorter, Richie Bierach, Joe Henderson, Brecker Brothers, or Woody Shaw, or Ralph Towner.

 

 

 

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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I am looking to learn to play like like Big John Patton, Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith, etc... I am more into soul jazz than straight ahead or bop (although I do like the latter two). I am thinking that some of the modes wouldn't be all that useful? Maybe I am wrong tho! Seeing as though there are 7 modes (some say 14), and 12 keys, that's 84 different modes to try and remember. That seems like it would be almost impossible!

 

 

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Cmon Carlo, we are both good musicians, what is this round and round?

Not my idea for sure.

 

I did not say no scales.

I think you did

 

No need to think so much about Modes, nor of chord scales theory

This is new bulls*** created AFTER many of the giants could play quite well.

 

 

 

Ok Carlo have it your way. What I SAID was chord scale theory I clearly stated, major, minor, dim, chromatic, whole tone, scales on all possible roots and their chords Do you wear glasses?

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Hi Melodius, don't go for 84 scales.

 

At first, work on key centres: identify all chords as blues progressions, or, iim7 - V7 - Imaj7, in major keys in a jazz genre. Yes, there is plenty of stuff outside this, but not for beginning improvisors.

 

Now you only need two modes and the tonic major scale.

 

You do need the chords. You do need the chords under your fingers.

 

If all this isn't clear, you really need to do some "private research": (read a couple of books on improvising: download Jamie Abersold's free Red Book, for a start).

 

John, I wear glasses. What of it? I could go back to the threads where you told us you didn't practice scales, and never have. (That's the problem with publishing stuff created, improvised, you might say, on the spot: it is available later when you contradict it.)

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Get Lost Trapper? Really? I thought we were all grownups here.

 

MT, I know all my major scales (some better than others) and can play in any mode I see fit (poorly) based on the relevant major scale and the sound of the mode.

 

I think the sound of the mode is more important that anything. I learned the sound of the various modes playing them, one after another, up and down, on the whites (relevant major scale C) as part of my warm up routine for a long, long time.

 

I don't tend to use them consciously when I improvise, though. But really, I am a beginning improviser (and have been for many years). Some day, I will get to a teacher and advance to intermediate. Until then, I just kind of put my hands down on the keys and play whatever falls out of my fingers. Luckily, I am not a working jazz player (although I do play piano in a Dixieland rhythm section with the occasional short solo).

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If you can memorize all your major scales then you know all the ecclesatical modes already.

 

But .... It depends on how you want to think of them. For example in my case I find it easy to think of Dorian Minor in terms of natural minor (Aeolian minor) with a sharp 6 because in use I alternate a lot between natural minor and dorian minor in a lot of solos.

 

Memorizing for the sake of memorizing is hard. but if you start learning musical devices that use the scales in question then it will make sense.

 

Remembering Mixolydian is a major mode played from 5 to 5 is easy but in the heat of battle it may be easier to thing of it as a major sacale with a flat 7 ( the Granddaddy of blue notes.)

 

The eventually goal is to learn all this stuff so you can forget it. The goal is to not think. But the only way to Mushin is through Yushin..... or the only way to instinctive automatic action is through detail repetitive practice.

 

This, +1

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Children, children. Please.

 

(Eventually you will need enough scales to cover the ii V I chord progression in all 12 Major keys and the ii V i in minor keys.)

Can you please expand on that just a bit? For just one key (say, C), what scales do you need to cover ii V I? Also, are we counting all the different colors of ii V I, or just the basics (no altered 7, 9, or 13s)? [This is an honest query, not a sassy comeback.]

 

Because it seems to me (as a jazz ignoramus) that ii V I in C only requires C, but then it doesn't sound much like jazz. I'm looking for the next step here.

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Jeff I like the simplicity of your intuition ii V I IS in the key of C. A few alterations is ALL there is to it.. to make it jazzy sounding. of course the language of jazz, including Blues and it's rhythms are a part of the picture too.

 

The V chord is the next step. In C the "Jazzy' V chord is G7 with a C# or Db in it

There are a few scales that come to my mind

G A B C# D E F G

A tritone ( Tritone could mean three whole tones apart so G to Db ) away from G7 is Db7

So a scale that emphasizes Db7

G Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F G

And related to the above is the diminished scale

Starting from a root tone

G Ab Bb B C# D E F G various ways to spell that 8 note scale

 

The I chord could be C D E F G A B C

or you could raise the F to F#

Then there are so called Be Bop scales which when a kid, I discovered on my own, and later forgot! In other words, you play by ear too!

Instead of being dogmatic about this. Just treat these collection of tones as in a Smorgasbord.

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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download Jamie Abersold's free Red Book, for a start
Thanks for this info. I just downloaded it, and I really like what he has here. You can also have him send you a printed version for free, so I have.

 

I know a lot of stuff I've read in it so far, but a) it's nice to have in one place, and 2) I really agree with his philosophy.

 

Here's the link to the hardcopy and there's a link to download the PDF as well.

 

http://www.jazzbooks.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=FQ&Category_Code=

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I've taken lessons from many great players and am a 6th semester Berklee drop out in late 70's. I'm a proud slacker but I still pursue my passion to become a better bebop piano player.

 

That being said I'm no authority but here's my issue with teaching chord scales. Teach the whole scale at end of process. First teach by breaking up scale in 1/2 or 1/3's, etc. Teach students fragments in 2 notes, 3 notes, etc. Don't teach by showing scale. After students started to get a grasp of this concept, you then explain the whole scale and variants.

 

I remember back at Berklee, they show the scales and I'm thinking it's just a C major scale starting on a different degree, but because it seemed so easy, my slacker mind didn't analyze this method with the attention and practice it needed.

 

Ok, now back to the experts on this. :)

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Thanks IMRT, but wow. The C# just doesn't seem right. D# does (G augmented), but not C#.

 

I don't know shinola from tritones -- I've seen a few explanations but it never quite sinks in. Maybe this will help.

 

I do see how, on the G, I can play a B dim over G (or a Galt, which is the same thing with Eb rather than D, and toss in the dissonant Bb). And I can even put the bass in the C# there (essentially playing C#9). But I can't wrap my head around using the C# melodically there.

 

It strikes me as odd that I can use a note in the bass that I can't use in the melody!

 

Lately I have that Valt stuck in my head, so I want to play this scale on the V (a G in C):

 

[font:Courier New]G Ab B C D Eb F# G

1 2b 3 4 5 6b 7 8[/font]

 

What is that scale called, anyway?

 

Plus I realize there's a disconnect there, between thinking G+ calling the sharp 5 a flat 6. Another thing I don't understand!

 

I think it's OK to have that Galt stuck in my head for a bit, overplaying it until it sinks in and then it becomes just another tool in the kit. That's how I learn stuff: first, drive it into the bloody ground! I'm surprised bandmates aren't annoyed by this. :laugh:

 

If that C# is the key to jazz, I can see why I'm stumbling!

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Jeff,

 

If you aren't already, try this scale over G7alt (V in C).

 

G Ab Bb B Db Eb F G

 

Which is basically all the alterations to G (b9, #9, #11/b5, #5, b7).

 

(and sorry I don't know the name of the scale you're spelling in your post above.)

 

Also, yes, you can look at the alt scale I spelled above and say it's Ab minor, but in the heat of battle at 200bpm, I find the only way to play well is recognize the V resolving to I as an alt opportunity and thinking "G7alt" rather than "the minor scale related to the note a chromatic step above...". And that also doesn't help my voice leading, freedom to think melodically, etc. At least for me.

 

Also, tritones work because of the truth that the third and seventh define the feel of a chord. Consider G7. 3rd/7th are B and F. Interestingly B and F are also the 7th/3rd of another chord...Db7. So subbing Db7 for G7 in a ii-V-I provides some interesting chromatic voice leading possibilities (and a welcome alternative to a lot of diatonicism). G and Db are a tritone away from each other...hence, TTS (tritone substitution.

 

I don't know if that helps at all, or if I'm just muddying the waters.

..
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MT, great choice in grooves brother!:thu: Yea! Thats the stuff that makes my blood boil too! :) I'll share a method with you that really helped me even though it sounds simple, it really opens your mind..

Take a real simple tune. Ex. When the Saints go Marching in. Play it straight( ionian) then, while in the same key, play it through all the modes. I know some will sound goofy lol! But the purpose it to show you the 'character' and personality of the modes themselves. Once you become fluid in their language, hidden in there is "TM's mode. TM's scales. TM's jazz. ;)

I dont know if you get Keyboard Mag, but its killer! Last month they did an interview with Brian Haas. Regardless if your a fan of his, he really hit home on some of his comments. Check it out if you get a chance. Hope that helps ya. Gotta split! Gig with painful miles between! Blah! Lol! PM me if you'd like some more tips to turn that dauntingness into a deep well of exploration. :)

"A good mix is subjective to one's cilia." http://hitnmiss.yolasite.com
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download Jamie Abersold's free Red Book, for a start
Thanks for this info. I just downloaded it, and I really like what he has here. You can also have him send you a printed version for free, so I have.
Thanks, both of you. I ordered a copy too, and am reading the pdf meanwhile.

 

Clearly, it's an advertisement for his CDs. A great one in every way, both for Abersold and for those of us who would benefit from it. I've often come to a stop (e.g., reading Levine) because they discuss something in the context of a song I don't know. I'm tempted to get a set of Abersold's CDs just to correct this issue. It'd also lead to a lot of purchases of artists' CDs, as I learn what I want to get more of.

 

So, I can see why they ship this for free. And I think that it'll be money well spent by them, in my case!

 

I keep talking about starting to play jazz. I'm between bands, so this would be the perfect time. Plus I just met a guitarist who might be interested in putting together a band that's not a jazz band, but would play a number of jazz tunes and a lot of jazzy blues.

 

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Jeff,

 

If you aren't already, try this scale over G7alt (V in C).

 

G Ab Bb B Db Eb F G

 

Which is basically all the alterations to G (b9, #9, #11/b5, #5, b7).

Thanks. That's IMRT's second scale, and I confess I got tripped up by the first one. This makes more sense to me, but still that Db, I have a hard time making it work. If anyone can mention a song that uses it (ideally, in the melody), maybe that would provide better context for my ear to get around it.

 

Whenever I try it, it starts out OK but then seems to sound whole-tone-scalish. Like a newb fiddling with a whole tone scale, and nothing like good jazz. :laugh:

 

And thanks for that about the tritone. That's the part I've heard many times (but never quite internalize) and I'll try hammering on it again.

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