Solving The Mystery of Modes – Part 2

In Part 1 of Solving The Mystery of Modes  we looked at what modes of the major scale were and how the Ionian, Aeloian and Dorian modes can be used in creating guitar solos and melodies. Here we will continue to solve the mystery of modes by looking at the Mixolydian, Phrygian, Lydian and Locrian modes.

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

Mixolydian Mode
Mixolydian mode is a major mode that starts on the 5th scale degree which in the example of the C major scale will be the G note for G Mixolydian. This mode works well over dominant 7th chords. So if you’re jamming on G7 which is a common thing to do in funk music, play the G Mixolydian mode.

mode_g_mixolydian

Mp3 Track
Play
G Mixolydian | Download
Listen to the audio of G Mixolydian.

A great idea is to play a mixture of G Mixolydian and G minor pentatonic over this G7 groove. The G Mixolydian creates a great jazz/fusion sound very similar to Jeff Beck.

Another way to look at the Mixolydian mode is that it is the major scale with a flat 7. So where G major would have a F#, G Mixolydian has a F natural.

mode_g_mixolydian_fret

For a classic example of the Mixolydian mode in action check out the melody for Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam”.

freeway_jam

Mp3 Track
Play
Freeway Jam | Download
Listen to the audio of Freeway Jam.

Phrygian Mode
Jumping back to the 3rd scale degree takes us to the dark sounding Phrygian mode. Sticking with the C major scale the 3rd scale degree is E so E Phrygian uses the notes of C major starting on E. This mode sounds dark due to the minor second interval between the 1st and 2nd notes of the scale which in E Phrygian is the E and F notes.

mode_e_phyrgian

Mp3 Track
Play
E Phrygian | Download
Listen to the audio of E Phrygian.

Like the Dorian and Aeolian modes this mode pattern on the fret board can be viewed as the minor pentatonic pattern 1 with 2 extra notes.

mode_e_phyrgian_fret

This mode is used in Spanish Flamenco music and also is commonly used in heavy metal. One of the most famous examples is the riff from Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam.”

wheverimayroam

Mp3 Track
Play
Wherever I May Roam | Download
Listen to the audio of Wherever I May Roam .

Metallica

Lydian Mode
Lydian mode is another major mode that is less commonly used. The notes of the Lydian mode come from starting major scale on the 4th note. So using the notes of C major it starts on the F note. It has a very open sound to it and works over the exotic Major7#11 chord.

mode_f_lydian

Mp3 Track
Play
F Lydian | Download
Listen to the audio of F Lydian.

Another way to view this mode is as the major scale with a sharpened 4th. So with this in mind have a look at the fret board pattern to see how similar it is to the major scale pattern.

mode_f_lydian_fret

2 well known guitarists who use this mode are Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. For a great example of the Lydian mode in action have look at the melody from Joe Satriani’s “Flying In a Blue Dream”.

flyingbluedream

Mp3 Track
Play
F Lydian | Download
Listen to the audio of Flying In A Blue Dream.

Locrian Mode
The final mode of the major scale is Locrian mode which starts on the 7th scale degree (B note in C major). This mode is not used as much as the others as it’s played over a half diminished (AKA minor 7 flat 5) chord and there really aren’t many songs based on this unstable chord. Usually the half diminished chord is the ii chord in a minor jazz song which is another topic we’ll get to later on! However below is an example of how the mode sounds and its fret board pattern.

mode_b_locrian

Mp3 Track
Play
B Locrian | Download
Listen to the audio of B Locrian.

mode_b_locrian_fret

So now the mystery of modes have been solved see how you can use them in your own guitar solos and melodies.
All lyrics and chords on this website may only be used for educational purposes, private study, scholarship or research.

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

Solving The Mystery Of Modes – Part 1

For many guitarists modes are a mystery with much confusion about what they are and how they work. Modes form the basis for many guitar solos and melodies in a range of music styles so it’s a must to know your modes.

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

Modes and modal music have been around since medieval times. Gregorian chants from the 9th century used modes to give them a particular sound. In the 1950s and 1960s modes became popular due to their use in the “modal jazz” of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The use of modes in jazz in turn influenced rock musicians including The Doors, Santana, Jeff Beck and many more.

Jeff Beck uses modes in his solos and melodies.

In music a mode is a scale starting on a note (or scale degree) that is not the first note (or root) of the scale. For example if you play the C major scale starting on D you are playing the D Dorian mode. The Dorian mode works well over a minor chord or key. In the case of D Dorian this is D minor.

mode_d_dorian

Mp3 Track
Play
D Dorian | Download
Listen to the audio of D Dorian.

The modes looked at here are “modes of the major scale” and they all have Greek names. Below they are listed based on the C major scale with some of the chords and keys that they work with.

Modes of The Major Scale

Major Scale / Ionian Mode
To start playing modes it is a good idea to first be comfortable with the major scale which itself is also known as Ionian mode. The first example is the C major scale in the 7th position which means that the lowest fretted note is on the 7th fret.

mode_c_ionian

Mp3 Track
Play
C Major/Ionian | Download
Listen to the audio of C Major/Ionian.

mode_c_ionian_fret

The major scale/Ionian mode and works well in songs in major keys from Bach to Bob Dylan to The Beatles. Check out the example of a solo over the chords of The Beatles “Let It Be” using the C major scale.

letitbe_solo

Mp3 Track
Play
Let It Be | Download
Listen to the audio of Let It Be.

Aeolian Mode
Obviously all songs aren’t in a major key so what mode do you play in a minor key? For many minor key songs the natural minor scale or Aeolian mode is used.

The Aeolian mode is the notes of the major scale starting on the 6th scale degree. So using the notes of the C major scale the mode begins on A for A Aeolian. Here A Aeolian will work well for songs in the key of A minor.

mode_a_aeolian

Mp3 Track
Play
A Aeolian | Download
Listen to the audio of A Aeolian.

Songs that use the Aeolian mode include:

  • Black Magic Woman – Santana
  • Autumn Leaves – Jazz Standard
  • Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
  • Achilles Last Stand – Led Zeppelin
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You – Led Zeppelin
  • Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
  • Do I Wanna Know – Arctic Monkeys

The fret board pattern for Aeolian mode is shown below. This pattern and some of the other mode patterns on the guitar fret board contain the main minor pentatonic pattern (AKA minor pentatonic pattern 1). When I first learnt the mode patterns I thought of them as minor pentatonic patterns with 2 extra notes. So if you’re already familiar with the minor pentatonic pattern this is a great way to learn the mode patterns.

mode_a_aeolian_fret

Have a listen below to the A Aeolian mode being played is part of the solo from Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”.

stairway_solo

Mp3 Track
Play
Stairway To Heaven | Download
Listen to the audio of Stairway To Heaven.

Dorian Mode
Another commonly used minor mode is the Dorian mode which starts on the 2nd scale degree of a major scale. So using the notes of the C major scale the mode starts on D for D Dorian. This mode was popularized by Miles Davis on his “modal jazz” album Kind of Blue. This mode is less dark sounding than Aeolian mode. Tunes that use the Dorian mode include:

  • So What – Miles Davis
  • Light My Fire (solos) – The Doors
  • Riders On The Storm – The Doors
  • Oye Come Va – Santana
  • Another Brick in The Wall Part 2 (Solo) – Pink Floyd

mode_d_dorian

Mp3 Track
Play
D Dorian | Download
Listen to the audio of D Dorian.

Like the Aeolian mode the basic fret board pattern for the Dorian mode is similar to the minor pentatonic mode with 2 extra notes.

mode_d_dorian_fret

Below is a sample of the solo from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” which uses the Dorian mode.

anotherbrick_solo

Mp3 Track
Play
Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2 | Download
Listen to the audio of Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2.

In Part 2 of Solving The Mystery of Modes we will look at the other 4 modes of Mixolydian, Phrygian, Lydian and Locrian and how they’re used on guitar.
All lyrics and chords on this website may only be used for educational purposes, private study, scholarship or research.
Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

Playing Bar Chords in Songs

In the previous bar chord guitar lesson we looked at the correct hand position required to play clear consistent bar chords. Once you’ve mastered this the next step is to know where and what bar chords shapes to play on the guitar neck within a song.

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

6 String Bar Chords
The main bar chord shapes are based on open string E and A chord shapes. For example the F major bar chord at position (fret 1) is the E major chord shifted up 1 fret with finger 1 barred behind.

e_majorE major chord

barchord_fF Major Bar Chord

If you look at the F minor bar chord you will see that it is simply the open E minor chord again with finger 1 barring across the 1st fret.

e_minor2E Minor Chord

barchord_fminorF Minor Chord

5 String Bar Chords
The A major chord forms the basis for 5 string bar chord with the root note on the 5th (A string).  So at position 1 Bb major is the A major open string chord moved up 1 fret with finger 1 barring across the 5 strings. The 5 string major bar chord can be played 3 different ways. The first is following what you usually see in bar chord diagrams with fingers 2, 3 and 4 in a row and all strings from 5 to 1 being played.

a_majorA Major Chord

barchord_BbmajorBb Major Bar Chord

Muting The 6th String
When playing the 5 string bar chords it can be good to mute the unwanted 6th string with the edge of finger1. This help to prevent it ringing out when strumming preventing it clashing with many chords. It’s a bit subtle in the photos but you can see finger 1 touching the edge of the 6th string to mute it.

The second fingering is to use only fingers 1 and 3 with finger 3 barring across strings 3, 2 and 1. With this chord it is important to mute string 1 by not applying full pressure with finger 3 on this string. If you do apply pressure to string 1 you end up playing a 6 or 6th chord. This is a nice jazzy sounding chord but it is not always suitable for many songs.

barchord_Bbmajor2Bb Major Bar Chord

The final option is similar to the previous one except to use the little finger to play strings 3 and 2 by laying it flat. This option is handy if you’re quickly changing from a 5 string minor bar chord to a 5 string major bar chord as you only have to take finger 2 off the fret board and lie finger 4 down to play strings 2 and 3.

barchord_Bbmajor3Bb Major Bar Chord

For the open string A minor chord forms the basis for Bb minor. If you move the A minor shape up 1 fret then bar the 1st fret you’re now playing Bb minor.

a_minorA Minor Chord

barchord_BbminorBb Minor Chord

Learn the 6th and 5th String Notes
With this knowledge we can learn where all the major and minor bar chords are on the guitar fretboard.

  • To learn all the 6 string chords based on E major/minor learn all the notes on the 6th (low E) string.
  • To learn all the 5 string chords based on A major/minor learn all the notes on the 5th (low A) string.

Guitar Neck Notes

Learning Bar Chords in Songs
To help to learn where all the bar chord are on the guitar neck try this exercise. Play the chord progression to Angie by the Rolling Stones using only bar chords. Initially keep the strumming simple with one strum per beat and see if you can play along with the original recording of the song.

angie_chords

Once you can play the bar chords of the song swap the 6 and 5 string bar chords around and vice versa. For example instead of playing the 6 string F major bar chord play the 5 string F major bar chord. You will find that some chords are very high up the neck making them awkward to play such as the 5 string A minor bar chord so you can just stick with the 6 string bar chord version of A minor.

Dominant 7 Bar Chords
Also note that this song introduces the dominant 7 bar chord the 6 and 5 string bar chord shapes for these chords are shown below.

barchord_f7F7 Bar Chord

barchord_Bb7Bb7 Bar Chord

Another good song to use for this exercise is Hotel California by The Eagles. Again for this song try mixing the 6 and 5 string bar chords while keeping the rhythm simple with 1 strum per beat while playing along with the song.

hotel_california_chords

You can do this exercise with almost any song but the best songs are those with a good collection of chords. Try songs by The Beatles, The Eagles and Crowded House as they often use a range of chords that aren’t just the common I IV V chord collections of G C D, A D E and D A G.

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

Breaking The Bar Chord Barrier

Are you a guitarist who is comfortable playing open string chords but when it comes to bar chords they are a barrier to playing certain songs? The key to breaking the bar chord barrier on guitar is building hand strength and placing your hand in the correct position on the guitar neck. In comparison to open string chords such as G C and D bar chords are much more difficult to play as they require extra pressure for the strings ring out clearly.

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

To help build the hand strength necessary for a clear bar chord sound try this exercise. Using just your first finger bar it across all the strings at the 5th fret. Ensure that the finger is perfectly parallel with the fret and placed up against it as close as possible.

Bar Chord Parallel Palm

To help keep the finger straight keep the palm up and close to the bottom of the guitar neck.

Also ensure that your thumb is placed behind the fifth fret spot on the neck and pointing upwards.

Bar Chord Thumb

If your hand is placed correctly there should be a gap under the guitar neck so that you palm doesn’t actually touch the bottom of the neck.

Bar Chord Palm Gap

The thumb will act as a vice helping to apply pressure to the first finger. While you are doing this pluck each string individually checking that each one is ringing out clearly. If any strings are muted try moving your finger up or down slightly in relation to the floor. If some strings are still muted you may simply need to apply more pressure. As I say to my students it should be slightly painful ;) Like the tips of your fingers your first finger will also develop calluses from playing bar chords. Once this callus has developed playing bar chords won’t be as painful.

A Major Bar ChordAfter you have your first finger working with all strings ringing out clearly we will add the other fingers. Here at the 5th fret we will play an A major chord using the 6 string major bar chord shape. Add finger 3 to the 7th fret on the 5th string, finger 4 to the 7th fret on the 4th string and finger 2 to the 6th fret on the 3rd string. Now pluck each string individually checking each one rings out clearly.

barchord_a

I recommend to first practice bar chords on the 5th fret as it requires less pressure and finger stretching than playing further down the neck such as at fret 1 for the F bar chord. Once you have each string of your A chord ringing clearly try the same shape at fret 4 for Ab, fret 3 for G, fret 2 for F# and finally fret 1 for F. Of course check that all the string rings out clearly for each chord.

For the next bar chord lesson we will look at the six main bar chord shapes and how to use them to all the main chords on the guitar.

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

The 5 Minor Pentatonic Scale Patterns

You’ve probably seen guitarists play solos all over the guitar neck and have wondered how do they know where all the right notes are to play? The trick to this is to learn the patterns that these players have memorised on the fret board. Most rock and blues solos use the minor pentatonic scale with players who use this scale almost exclusively include:

  • Angus young
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Joe Bonnamassa
  • Buddy guy
  • BB king
  • Jimmy Page
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Tony Iommi
  • Zakk Wylde

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar

Minor Pentatonic Pattern 1
The minor pentatonic scale has 5 patterns along the guitar neck that act as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and provide a fret board path of what notes to play in a song or key. Most guitar players learn pattern 1 first as it’s an easy pattern to learn.

E Minor Pentatonic Pattern 1

Many famous guitar solos use this pattern including:

  • Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix using E minor pentatonic
  • Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin using E minor pentatonic
  • Enter Sandman by Metallica using E minor pentatonic
  • You Shook Me All Night Long by AC DC using G minor pentatonic

Angus Young loves pattern 1!

Minor Pentatonic Pattern 2
E minor pentatonic is an often used scale by guitarists as it includes all the open strings making it easy to play. Pattern 1 includes all these open strings. Pattern 2 overlaps with pattern 1 so that the bottom notes of pattern 2 are the same as the top notes of pattern 1.

E Minor Pentatonic Pattern 2

Minor Pentatonic – The 5 Patterns
All of the 5 pentatonic scale patterns overlap in the same way with some being easier shapes to play than others. Practice each pattern and memorise the fingering required to play them. After pattern 5 the sequence starts again with pattern 1 at the 12th fret for the E minor pentatonic scale. This is where some of the solos mentioned above are played.

E minor pentatonic - 5 patterns

Shifting The Pentatonic Patterns
The next step is to be able play these 5 patterns in different keys. This is done by simply shifting the patterns around. Play pattern 1 starting at the root note of the key for the song. For example to play the 5 patterns for A minor pentatonic play pattern 1 at the 5th fret which is the note A on the 6th string. Going down in pitch with A minor pentatonic you can play pattern 5 and pattern 4 before you hit the nut.

A minor pentatonic 5 patterns

The 3 Octave Pentatonic Path
The final piece of the puzzle is how to connect these patterns together. Generally in a solo you won’t use all of a pattern but parts of each one. To show you how to play 3 octaves from the bottom of pattern 1 to the top of pattern 5 use the following fret board diagram showing you a “3 Octave Pentatonic Path”. It’s been highlighted in yellow just like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz!

3 Octave Minor Pentatonic Path

Also try this 3 Octave Pentatonic Path to play from pattern 1 to pattern 5 using the A minor pentatonic scale. This fret board pattern is shiftable for other keys such as G B and C etc.

A Minor Pentatonic 3 Octave Path

Download Kindle Edition Ebook Learning To Play The Guitar