wiseguy493 -> RE: modes and scales (May 15 2007 14:57:29)
Howdy flamenco players =)
The topic of chord and scale theory and how it applies to flamenco is something that has always left me feeling rather overwhelmed in how to approach teaching/understanding it all.
When I began playing flamenco, I had been formally trained in both classical and jazz music separately and for me everything made sense through theory. As I learned flamenco, I made frantic attempts to understand the music by the same theories and eventually made many connections that enhanced all the music I play
As to how to actually turn it into something comprehensive to teach quickly, I have had no such luck so far! But I think I would be fairly well equipped to answer any theory questions that anyone has about something specific.
As for the topic of scales and modes, here is a copy of something I posted on another website the other day to answer a question a player had about it. This is nowhere near complete for applying to the topic of flamenco theory, but I think the examples will make some sense when applied over the soleares, and many other palos that use the Phrygian mode so common to flamenco.
On with the rambling!!!
The function of the chord types and extensions is to determine tonal center (key) and this is directly related to the Gregorian modes, which most players are vaguely familiar with as "those other scales"
But here's how the modes work....
The Ionian mode (a.k.a. the major scale) is consider the root of the tonal center and this is the natural scale of Major chords and all extensions (Major 7, Major 6add9, Major 7/6, etc.). This mode is relative to the chord known as the Tonic
The Aeolian mode (a.k.a. the pure minor scale) is the relative minor of the root and can be derived from playing the major scale starting and ending on the 6th note (for A Aeolian, play C major scale starting from A). This scale is related to (but not limited to) the Minor, Minor 7th, Minor 11th chords. This mode is relative to the chord known as the Submediant.
The Dorian mode is derived from playing the major scale from the second degree (D Dorian would be C major played from D to D) and this scale is related to the chord known as the Supertonic or IIm7. I also like to think of the Dorian scale in form as a Minor scale with a raised 6th. The chord is of a Minor 7th type, but because of the structure of the scale the raised 6th makes the Supertonic more friendly to Minor 13th type chords (as well as the other minor types)
The Phrygian mode is derived from playing the major scale from the third degree (E Phrygian would be C major played E to E) and this scale is related to the Mediant chord or IIIm7. I also like to think of this mode as a minor scale with a flatted 9th, and this is probably the mode I use the most =) It is friendly to almost all minor chords
The Lydian mode is the major scale from the fourth degree (F Lydian = C major played F-F) and this scale is related to the Subdominant. I like to think of this mode as the major scale with a sharpened 4th/11th. This mode is chord-friendly for Major7sharp11 chords and almost all other major extensions.
The Mixolydian mode is the major scale from the fifth degree (G Mixolydian = C major played G-G) and this scale is related to the Dominant. I like to think of this scale as a major scale with a flattened 7th. This mode is chord-friendly for all dominant 7th type chords (chords with a major 3rd and flatted 7th) and it doesn't really matter whether the 5th or 9th is altered, or whether the 11th or 13th is added in.
The last mode is the Locrian mode which is the major scale from the 7th degree (B Locrian = C Major played B-B) and this scale is related to the Leading Tone. I like to think of this scale as a Minor scale with a flatted 5th and 9th. Yeah baby! heh This mode is chord-friendly for the minor7b5 chord, and can also be used with other minor chords, and can be used with dominant chords with a flatted 5th, and well this is a very abstract mode that can be used so many ways I'll stop there!
Now that I went over all the mumbo jumbo of all the modes... how do these all relate?
In music, there are really 3 essential chords: The Tonic, the Subdominant and the Dominant. All cadences in music are based on these chords... much music is built with just these three chords. Now as many have discovered, Minor and Major chords have relatives... think of this for a minute:
C major relative to A minor
F major relative to D minor
G major relative to E minor
So if we were in the key of C, our Submediant is A minor so we can in many instances in place of C major for 4 beats, play A minor for 2 beats then C major for 2.
Now the subdominant, F, has the relative minor of D, which is our supertonic. So in many instances we can also swap out this D minor for the F chord
And finally, G major is the dominant and has the relative E minor chord, which is our Phrygian mode. They can be exchanged quite freely too.
So where does that leave the poor lonely Leading Tone/Locrian mode? Well, it can be used quite a few ways but is most commonly used in exchange for, or leading into, the Dominant chord. I like to also use in place of the Subdominant sometimes too though, an interesting effect.
Now take a common progression like the 12 bar blues, pull out a chord book, sit down with the guitar and start substituting these chords for eachother this way. Consider what Whammyless has said about which chords lead to others and learn to HEAR how the "soft" and "hard" transitions move. Like the Tonic to the Supertonic to the Mediant is a "soft" transition, while the Tonic to the Subdominant to the Leading Tone to the Dominant is a "hard" transition. This balance of beauty and tension is what makes for great harmonies. Just listen to something simple like Francisco Tarrega's "Lagrima", it's not complicated at all but it has harmonious "soft" movements contrasted by tense "hard" movements.
I guarantee that with some practice, all the connections will happen real soon and you'll see how these chords and scales are directly related for both lead and rhythm guitarists... the theory is all the same. Classical composers, metal guitarists, flamenco guitarists... doesn't matter it's all the same foundation!
Now when you get a hang of these things in a basic structure like the blues, try changing keys (modulation) by "implying" the new key by using the dominant. So if you're in the key of C and you go to the chords C-F-C-G now you go to E minor, the mediant and a substitute for G major right, now play A7 and you've implied it as the new Dominant so if you go to D major at this time you've just modulated to the D major key. These types of modulations do happen and give a smooth, almost-not-there feel to the music instead of a very abrupt modulation (which you may also desire in some songs, try it!)
So go back over all the music you know and/or are studying and look at these things like chords and melodies played over them and how they relate to modes. If you play classical music, look at the melodies alone and try to find the chords that go behind them. If you just strum chords, start playing some melodies over them using the modes.