Guitar Theory Questions about Modes & Power Chords

Discussion in 'Beginner's Q&A Forum' started by kaiser, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. kaiser

    kaiser Bored

    hey i got two music theory q's.....
    somebody pls answer em instead of saying: go to, check it out over there.
    ill stop using igt otherwise....!!! hehe..........kiddin......

    well, here they are:

    1. i know how modes are derived. i know their step patterns. each of them has a distinct feel to it and they're cool. ive read that they are used extensively in rock and jazz music, esp to imrovise. now, how exactly are they used in improvisation? suppose im playing a song in the G maj Scale, where and how can i use a mode?

    2. power chords.....very fishy stuff this. according to what ive learnt so far, the root note, and the fifth note of a chord can be left out as long as the 3 remaining notes remain. physics has proved that even if you leave out the root note (surprising, man!) or fifth note, the chord will sound almost the same.
    in fact, this amazing phenomenon makes way for chord substitution(CS). with CS you can play an easier chrd in place of some chord u cant play properly. eg. d minor in place of G9 or Bbmaj7.

    Music theory also maintains that the 3 note of a chord is the 'most important' note of a chord/triad or even a scale. it is this note that defines the flavour of a scale in a big way. it is indispensible.....

    now this is what i wanna ask: what the hell is a power chord? dont tell me its root and 5th played together. i know that already. but what happened to the three? the 3 aint even sharped or flatted. its just gone. and why does this chord sound so powerful when played? when was this first used?
    was this used in classical music?

    whats so special abt this 1 n 5 combo? if i play 1 n 3, or 1 n 6, im just playing two harmonius notes. but if i play 1 n 5, it called a chord. a chord has 3 notes minimum. why is this particular 'couple' of notes exempted?

    well.........i cud'nt find any answer to my qs on the net. hope i get them on IGT....!!!

  2. power chords are also called 5ths......from what i know it was first used in rock guitar ..u know cause when u play the whole chord usin distortion it rings a lot and it will be very hard on the gets worse when u play the 9th or the 11ths with distortion...and yeah one more thing power chords are neither major nor minor..if u want to be more correct u can cal it fifths..power chords is more like a street name!
    if u r gettin what i mean.
    hope this helps a bit..
    abt the modes...
    see this is what helped me ...i learnt all the modes in different positions...and try and connect them..from what i know basically all the modes will fit in for that particular key.. im not much of a theory guy...but yeah im learnin it..most of the times while improvisin u must let ur ears guide u rather than ok now im going to play lydian and then the harmonic minor...i dont know if im helpin here but its just how i approach it ..maynot work for u tho..peace man and keep playin..
  3. kaiser

    kaiser Bored

    haha.....dimebag!!!! thanx for're the only who replied........but im still confused man!

    i really find this mode stuff fascinating. in fact i do know a little bit about modes. for eg, if ur plaaying a song in key of c major, you can use g mixo or f lydian cuz they're major scales n they contain the same notes as a c mjor scale. but im kinda confused bt how to apply them. as far as fifths are ok now! thanks.....!
  4. kaiser...see when i didnt know modes ...i was still playin them it was just that i didnt know its names....well ask someone who are more theory stable ...coz most of the playin i do is with the ear...beginners who r readin this post plz dont mistake that i actually strum the guitar with the dude were u laughin at my ignorance ???haha..dont worry even i do still confused abt the fifths or the modes or did i confuse u more ...really curious
  5. kaiser

    kaiser Bored

    hi dimebag....! i was laughing cuz u tried answerin it n then petered out in the end....but u bet, in the beginning, this modes stuff is confusing as hell. understanding isnt, but applying them really is.

    n u see.......ur the only one who posted a reply to my thread. thats one more reason why i laughed!

    take care
  6. its difficult to explain stuff typin on the net..haahhaa...
  7. rabi_sultan

    rabi_sultan <Bulla Ki Jana>

    power chords consist of 5ths plus sus4, 3rds, 6ths and most likely more that i haven't mentioned. In power chords you always play with two note chords instead of the commonly associated three note chords (triad). In doing so you take out one of the notes, for instance C major chord ( C - E - G ) would become in a 5th power chord as ( C - G ). This is because the fifth note in the scale is G and you obviously have to play the root (tonic) note ( C ). A C 3rd power chord designated as C3 would consist of the tonic and the third note which would results in a chord ( C - E ). Similarly sus4, 6ths and other power chords are added.

    Please do not get this stuff confused with slash chords as they simply support the ideas of inverting the bass notes of the guitar (bottom 3 strings).
  8. pacificwaters

    pacificwaters - .+:| Oriel |:+. -

    hey rabi,

    that was fantastic explaination.

    i didnt know this logic behind the power chords. thanks for telling me the theory behind it.......

    can u also explain abt slash chords?????????
  9. rabi_sultan

    rabi_sultan <Bulla Ki Jana>

    i can't remember the theory behind chord inversions and last time it was explained to me it went over my head as i missed out on the bit where you can work out the inversions.

    But basically a slash chord is where the inversion of the chord (1st or 2nd inversion) is played as the bass note instead of the regular note. For instance lets consider the chord of C major as (x32010) the first inversion would be E and the second inversion would be G. Since a slash chord says you play the inversion as the bass note the 1st inversion chord C/E is (032010) and the second inversion chord C/G is (332010).

    That is basically it.
  10. kaiser

    kaiser Bored

    hey rabi....thanks for the explanation. could you please tell me something about modes? i know how they r derived n stuff but how do we apply em?

    if we take, say, g lydian as a separate scale an create a song its ok. there're songs thatve been composed using modes independently (i hope ur getting what i mean) .......but suppose im playing something in c major, and i wanna improvise, where do modes come in?

    pls answer cuz im dying of curiousity...thanx!
  11. rabi_sultan

    rabi_sultan <Bulla Ki Jana>

    i've never heard of modes sorry. i'll look it up and see if i can understand it though.
  12. kaiser hang on . ..will be doin modes tonight ....
  13. kaiser

    kaiser Bored

    im waitingggggggg@!!11
  14. Modes are just names for the way the same scale works over different chords.

    Take the C major scale. That's basically just a bunch of 7 notes; A-B-C-D-E-F-G. They can go in any order, and any one can be the root. (C is just the most common root, hence the usual name of the scale.)
    What happens when we define one particular note as the root - or "tonic" or "home" note - is we create a "mode". The important point is that the root doesn't have to be the lowest note, or the starting note of any pattern we play. But it WILL be the note that any melody using the scale finishes on.

    So if we decide C is "home" (which is the easiest option, because it's the most familiar sounding one), we get "C ionian mode". This is more commonly known as the "C major key". (Notice I said "key" not "scale" - "Key" underlines the fact that C is "home".)

    If we decide A is "home" (next most common), we get A aeolian mode, aka the "A natural minor scale". This is known as the "relative minor KEY" (that word again) of the C major key - because it shares all the same notes.
    Sharing all the same notes, but having a different tonal centre (home) is what modes are all about.

    Clearly there are 5 more possibilities.
    Some of them make very poor tonalities (key systems). Locrian mode, e.g., never sounds comfortable. Playing the C major scale and ending on B never sounds really "finished". This is because locrian has a b5 (F in B locrian), and the 5th is a very important note for supporting the tonic, which only a perfect 5th does.

    Mixolydian and dorian modes are the most popular tonalities in rock music and jazz (after the major and minor keys).

    What I mean is that the mode of G mixolydian (same notes as C major/ionian) does NOT work as the 5th mode of the C major key.
    I mean, if you get a G7 chord in the key of C, there's no need to suddenly think of "G mixolydian mode", and play a specific pattern accordingly. The G7 is just the V chord in C ionian mode (major key).
    You can play any mode/pattern of C major, it will sound fine - and they will all sound as "G mixolydian" as each other, which just depends on how long the chord lasts.

    What "G mixolydian mode" really means is a song where G is the HOME note. G is the I chord, not the V. It just happens to have an F in the scale instead of F#.
    IOW, it's like G major (key) but has a b7.

    If mixolydian is the major key with a b7, dorian is the minor key with a major 6 (and b7 - sometimes minor keys have a raised 7th; dorian never does).

    Dorian is actually the same as mixolydian but for its 3rd.
    Here's a comparison of the 4 main modal tonalities:

    Half-steps:| | | | | | | | | | | | |
    IONIAN:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    MIXOLYDIAN:1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8
    DORIAN:1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8
    AEOLIAN:1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8

    As you can see, mixolydian and dorian are kind of intermediate sounds in between the major (ionian) and minor (aeolian) keys.
    Many songs will contain a mixture of modes in this way - ionian and mixolydian being most common. (Which just means a song in the key of A might contain a G note or G chord as well as a G# note or E chord.)

    Here's a full list of modes based on C. (Parallel modes)

    C lydian: C D E F# G A B C (fits Cmaj7#11 chord)
    C ionian: C D E F G A B C (fits Cmaj7 chord)
    C mixolydian: C D E F G A Bb C (fits C7 chord)
    C dorian: C D Eb F G A Bb C (fits Cm7 chord)
    C aeolian: C D Eb F G Ab Bb C (fits Cm7 chord)
    C phrygian: C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C (fits Cm7 chord)
    C locrian: C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C (fits Cm7b5 chord)

    If this is still all baffling, don't worry. It's not important that you understand modes. Seriously!
    What's important is to understand KEYS (major and minor) and how they work: how they use chord sequences and scales to establish tonality (home note).
    Learn all your major scales, and the chords that are harmonised from them. This gives you "diatonic" key sequences.
    Study lots of jazz songs and check how the chords relate to the key centre. (Work out which chords are the I-IV-V, etc.)
    Quite often, notes and chords from outside the key are used. These are "chromatic". They still have a relationship with chords either side - usually the following chord. Quite often, a different key will be temporarily indicated.
    These between-chord relationships are the REALLY important thing to get to grips with for understanding most jazz. Modes are largely irrelevant.
    Also study melodies, and learn to play them. Check how they relate to the scale of the key - and also how the notes relate to the accompanying chords. Again, this is FUNDAMENTAL - and still nothing to do with modes. (Well, it is - but modal terms are unnecessary.)

    Eventually you will appreciate how and when modal concepts are useful. Don't force it. They are not a magical answer or short cut to anything. Modes have their natural place some way down the line.
  15. maverick8218

    maverick8218 New Member

    :shock: , wow dimebag, that was pretty confusing, looks like i'll have to read that all over again...
  16. nebuchadnezzar

    nebuchadnezzar G34r G33k

    I am hopelessly confused......havent really read up scales yet... :eek: ...
    hmmmm....long way to go :think:
    newaz...great guide dimebag..... :rockon:
  17. kaiser

    kaiser Bored

    hey dimebag....thanks for aaallll that explanation. but i already know all tht!! i know that there are modes u can create using the harmonic n melodic minor scales. imagine, 7 modes each for them too!!! u get stuff like super locrian, mixo b6, lydian #5, n stuff ladat.........

    i howver fail to understand how theyre used in improvising...!

    Let me be more specific: Ive read many places that modes are used to improvise with. now how does one do tht?

    if i take G mixolydian for eg, i can compose a song, using all the chords of the scale. but that is, if i take the g mixo as a separate scale. it is, afetr all, a new scale, which has nothing to do the major scale. of course, it containsd the same notes as c major does.... butthats it. after its derived, its a whole new scale, with its unique interval structure....

    BUT WHATS EATING ME is how the hell it is used in improvsing?
    suppose im playing a song in d major, n if i wanna start playing a solo or anythig ladat, where do modes come in?

    there, back to square one.....
    im not asking nethinf bt modes after this.....its exasperatin ....

    but am gonaa find out one day@!!!!!11
  18. it is simply another major scale

    theoretically it is possible to use ONE fretboard "pattern" which covers all modes & in this case all major scales

    application IMO is "use your ears" or know the chord you are playing over

    take this -


    ionian same fret
    dorian 2 frets down
    phrygian 4 frets down
    lydian 7 frets up
    mixolydian 5 frets up
    aeolian 3 frets up
    locrian 1 fret up

    so taking this ( "X" aeolian) pattern


    that pattern becomes whichever "mode" depending on the chord played

    or it can be moved to become "X" mode as above

    note how thatpattern contains the pent minorionian = maj, maj7, maj9, maj13
    dorian = min, min7, min9, min11, min13
    phrygian = min, sus4b9, dom7#9, dom7b9
    lydian = maj7, maj7#11, maj9#11
    mixolydian = dom7, dom 9, dom13
    aeolian = min, min7
    locrian = min7b5

    to improv over a "A maj7#11" chord - from the above you need to uase "lydian"

    so you need to play "A lydian"
  19. kaiser

    kaiser Bored

    now.....I AM thoroughly confused!!!

    anyways, forget it.....n thanks anyway dimebag.

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