This piece is in E Mixolydian, and sounds major but with a D (♭7) rather than a D♯. i-iv gives us two stable minor chords a perfect fourth away from one another. These lesser utilized scales can really create an interesting sound when we use them modally. The ♯4 is Lydian’s characteristic tone, after all, and so using it as a root to another chord in a modal progression makes sense. The tertian seventh chord built on A is Amin7 (A C E G). Sure it is there, but without another point to relate to, it is somewhat meaningless in music. We stay on the “modal chord” for long periods of time. Of course, you could force this to work, but it would be a tough go. Modal harmony was once described to me as being “ambiguous and lacking direction.” My mentor’s reasoning was that there’s no strong movement toward a tonic and a lack of dominant chords (and other functional chords for that matter). “Let’s get there already!” you might be thinking. Building chords in this fashion doesn’t necessarily make us “modal” as much as it takes the listener out of “normal harmony.”, D G C F (stacking fourths on the root D Dorian), D A E B (stacking fifths on the root D Dorian). And when building melodies over these Phrygian chord progressions, pay special attention to the root and the minor second (Phrygian’s characteristic tone). I’d say that this is a good example of a Mixolydian piece that doesn’t have an overbearing dominant quality about it. In modal harmony, we’ll call our chords either modal tonic chords or cadential chords. The other most cadential chord would be the half diminished vii*. The more cadential chords are chords that: Chords based a third away from a mode’s root in either direction do not provide much tension and are often merely heard as “changes of color” (especially in tertian harmony). Once again, we have two stable minor chords, only this time a perfect fifth apart from one another. Just in case you might want to try this, the two modal cadential chords for Locrian would be: 1.♭vii(min7) but this would have a strong sense of being the tonic in a Minor Key. This is especially true if we’re not using tertian harmony (quartal harmony, secundal harmony, etc.). Sure, that works. They are (E A D G) followed by (D G C F). One way of conceptualizing modal harmony and especially modal chord changes is to think laterally rather than circularly. But let’s take a look at our possible circular movements and see how they apply to Dorian. I wish you the best with your modal study and musical successes! Well, especially when learning to hear the differences in the modes, it is important to have the root note to reference against. We kind of sit in one spot and only move slightly, harmonically speaking, to come right back to our modal “home.”. This tritone interval contains a tension that wants to resolve inward or outward by half steps. The riff emphasizes the root, ♭2 and ♭3 and since power chords are used, the 5, ♭6 and ♭7 are also emphasized. Phrygian is interesting since its v* chord is quite unstable and wants to resolve. As long as there’s an emphasis on where the Aeolian i chord is, this chord progression should be fine! Either way, these are the chords of Ionian. A special note here that it’s the II triad and not the seventh chord. Because it features a minor 3rd and centers on a minor chord, it’s a minor mode. Find out more. Satriani is great at implementing the modes tastefully into his music. Sure, you could use this chord, but there are better options when it comes to modal cadential chords. Now play the same notes, but have an A as your pedal point. What is a pedal point? Modal harmony is where we use only the notes of a specific mode in the harmony of a chord progression, melody line, or any other musical context we find ourselves in. This IV-I is called a “Plagal Cadence.” And although it doesn’t suggest as much tonality as a dominant-tonic “perfect cadence,” it bears mentioning. This is just one example of how you can view the fretboard in E minor. Flying in a Blue Dream is a perfect example of that and a great example of the Lydian mode (C Lydian to be exact). It’s best to illustrate this with an example. The most cadential chord in Lydian modal harmony is the II triad (not the seventh chord). Pedal points were invaluable in my learning of the modes. Let’s look at the alternatives for cadential modal chords in D Dorian (for this example we’ll stick to tertian seventh chords for simplicity sake): And D Dorian’s tertian seventh chord is Dmin7 (D F A C). Another good Aeolian track by Kris Norris, designed for the D Aeolian mode. On the guitar, Aeolian mode, the sixth mode of the major scale, is the sound that’s created when the 6th scale degree functions as the tonic. Note that, once again, these chords are built using tertian harmony . And so this chord doesn’t really add much tension, and is rather heard/felt as a “change of colour.” Even though the modal root is not in this cadential chord. So we know from our analysis of modal cadences that the ♭VII(maj7) and the ii(min7) work well as cadential chords in Dorian modal harmony. As we move toward home, we build up some tension. It does contain the modal root (D) and D Dorian’s characteristic tone (B). I love this example of the Aeolian mode (D Aeolian to be precise). I think it’s safe to use, but boring. To refresh, here are the diatonic tertian chords in reference to Dorian: Now let’s replace the roots of these individual chords with the root of the mode to help solidify our position in that mode: The above chords are arguably “more Dorian” since the root is present as the bass note in each one of them! Try experimenting with the intermittent droning of the characteristic tone as well as the root. The most cadential chord in Dorian modal harmony is the♭VII(maj7). But in Phrygian, we may be able to get away with a modal v*-i. Oftentimes modal harmony is static. But we can tap into a mode’s true sound by playing modally or playing within modal harmony. There’s a special case with B Locrian though, in that it contains a tritone interval (B-F). G7 (the V chord) is the dominant. Typically (in tonal harmony) the half-diminished chord wants to resolve up a half-step to the tonic chord (vii*-I). But I’m thinking Dorian the entire time I’m soloing. Although cadential modal chords can be any chord (other than the tonic) based on the notes of the mode in question, they are most often built laterally. The opening riff has an Aeolian melody line played against an offbeat bass note (starting on the modal root). The main riff pedals the root note in the bass, establishing the modal centre. (♭5), Augmented means there’s an augmented fifth alt. contain the characteristic note of the mode in question. Ode To Joy by Beethoven is another good example, I think. There are plenty of books out there that explain what the modes are, but I believe the two above resources to be the best at explaining the inner workings and practical application of the modes. This makes it a great candidate for a modal cadential chord to D Dorian!


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