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Welcome to the jam tracks page for modes. Let me start by saying that the jam tracks on this page are the most boring jam tracks on the site! They are here more for exercise and as a reference than anything else.

The jam tracks have a jazz type of feel but they serve the purpose of the exercise that you can use the concepts for any style of music that you play.

I'd recommend spending 10 minutes per day at the most with the jam tracks on this page. Then go put on some Ozzy and get them out of your system.

All the tracks are centered off the key of C so I play each of the 7th chords from the C scale followed by a track that moves from the CMaj7 chord to whatever chord is next in line.

This gives us 13 tracks which are as follows:

  1. I chord - Ionian mode
  2. ii chord - Dorian mode
  3. I to ii chords - Ionian to Dorian
  4. iii chord - Phrygian mode
  5. I to iii chords - Ionian to Phrygian
  6. IV chord - Lydian mode
  7. I to IV chords - Ionian to Lydian
  8. V chord - Mixolydian mode
  9. I to V chords - Ionian to Mixoylydian
  10. vi chord - Aeolian mode
  11. I to vi chords - Ionian to Aeolian
  12. vii chord Locrian mode
  13. I to vii chords - Ionian to Locrian

The idea being that you can practice playing one mode over a chord as well as play the Root, or I chord, up to each chord. This is so you can hear the movement between those two chords and isolate practicing between two modes and various positions on the neck for each of the modes.

To get you started with exercises I would suggest:

Arpeggiate the 1, 3, 5 and 7 chord tones over each chord
Play the mode over each chord
Vary the notes from both the arpeggios and modes - make patterns eg:
Arpeggio 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 7, 5, 3. (8 being the Root note 1 octave higher)
Arpeggio 1, 5, 3, 7, 5, 8, 7, 3.
Arpeggio (etc make your own)
Mode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Mode 1, 3, 2, 4, 3, 5, 4, 6, 5, 7, 6, 8, 7, 9, 8.

How do you work out what notes to play for each mode?

I'm real glad you asked that questions. That's a great question.

The answer involves you doing some work.

The C Ionian mode is simply the C Major scale which are the notes:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

If we number those notes get:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Note that when we get to the 8 we are back to the C. Except we have moved 1 octave up. The next note is the D. This can be called the 9th. It's also the 2nd. Just the 9th is one octave higher. So if we keep the numbers going we can write:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (or Root), 9th.

Once you get above 9th (which is the 2nd) - it's best to go back to calling the note the 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. No one wants to hear you say that you are playing the 14th!

From a chord point of view we refer to each degree from the Root like this as:
I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii, I (we are back to the I when using Roman numerals, you don't use VIII, only King Henry the VIII did that and he was mad).

Use upper case Roman numerals for the Major and Dominant chords (I, IV, V) and lower case Roman numbers for the minor chords (ii, iii, vi, vii).

So that's the Ionian mode. What are the notes for the Dorian mode?

The notes for D Dorian start on the D (no prizes for guessing that one). And they move up the scale using the same notes from the C Ionian scale. Although it uses the same notes as the C Ionian scale, don't think of it as the same scale. The scale steps are very different and the mode gives a totally different sound.

So the notes for D Dorian will be:
D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D.

See what I mean? They are the exact same notes used in the C scale. The spacing between each note is different. For example the interval from 1 to 3 in the C Ionian scale is C to E which is a Major 3rd. Where as the interval from 1 to 3 in the D Dorian scale is D to F which is a minor 3rd.

You can work out the rest from here. Using the above idea, write out the notes for the rest of the modes:

E Phrygian: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E.
F Lydian: F, G, A, ...
G Mixolydian: G, A, ...
A Aeolian: A, B, ...
B Locrian: B, C, ...

Each of the modes have different intervals between each of the notes.

Work them all out, find the notes on the neck and play the suggested patterns above over the jam tracks. First start with the (overly mundane) idea of playing the mode and the chord tones from each mode over the chord.

Then start to vary the patterns as suggested above. Like playing the notes 1, 3, 2, 4, etc of each mode. This becomes more musical straight away. The more you move between intervals the more you'll start to hear melody.

And one last idea (for now)- play each exercise:

On one string only
On two strings only
On three strings only
On four strings only
On five strings only (bass players note: Jaco used four!)
On six strings only (bass players note again: Jaco used four!)

Make sure you can name the notes as you go.

If you do this, not only will have miss every repeat of The Simpsons and Family Guy, but you'll also MASTER the fretboard.

There is a lot of work on this page, but if you just do little bits of work on it, you'll soon find you get the basic concept of modes under your fingers and in your head. This will equip you with the knowledge you need to go out further and start looking at how you can really start incorporating modes into your playin in a musical sense.

That's the bottom line - never forget that the aim is to play music. Put the theory in your head, get it under your fingers, then forget about it all, break every rule you've ever learnt and play from your heart.

Time to Shut Up and Practice

01 CMaj7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: C Major 7 chord

02 Dmi7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: D minor 7 chord

03 CMaj7 to Dmi7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: C Major 7 chord to D minor 7 chord

04 Emi7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: E minor 7 chord

Michael Brecker - Song for Bilbao

If you can play like this it would be fair enough to say that you have good grasp of the modes! May Michael Brecker's music live forever.

05 CMaj7 to Emi7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: C Major 7 chord to E minor 7 chord

06 FMaj7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: F Major 7 chord

07 CMaj7 to FMaj7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: C Major 7 chord to F Major 7 chord

08 G7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: G Dominant 7 chord

09 CMaj7 to G7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: C Major 7 chord to G Dominant 7 chord

10 Ami7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: A minor 7 chord

11 CMaj7 to Ami7 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: C Major 7 chord to A minor 7 chord

12 Bmi7b5 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: B minor 7 flat 5 chord

13 CMaj7 to Bmi7b5 No Bass mp3 wma
Time/size: 3 mins 20 secs/4.6mb
Modes jam track: C Major 7 chord to B minor 7 flat 5 chord

Jam on!

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