This lesson was made to accompany the guitar modes
series, where we looked at the individual modes of the major
scale and how you can use them as unique scales in their own right.
Now we're going to learn how to identify modal chord progressions
so we can apply the modes (e.g. in a solo) confidently over their
related chord changes.
It's about building a chord scale that ties in with the sequence of
modes we learned. Each mode builds a related chord.
Take your time with this. There's a fair bit of overlap between this
lesson and other concepts covered in the theory section, such as chord
lesson: finding chord progressions for modes
theory behind modal chord progressions
In the modes series, we identified 7
modes. Each mode
was built on a degree/note of its parent scale.
e.g. 2nd mode
Dorian was built
on the 2nd
degree of the major scale.
Mixolydian was built on the 5th
We also learned each mode as major, minor or diminished (7th mode
Locrian - the "odd one out").
applies when building chords
on the degrees of the major scale.
is a diagram showing the intervals of the major scale. Each yellow box
can be seen as a degree of the major scale, so each one also represents
a mode, from 1 (Ionian) to 7 (Locrian) and then back to 1 again.
The numerals correspond to the chord/mode number 1-7. You can also see
label corresponds with the chord/mode type (the triad around which the
is built). For example,
3rd mode Phrygian is a minor
mode, so therefore the 3 (iii)
will also be minor. 4th mode Lydian is a major mode, so therefore the 4
(IV) chord will also be... yep, major!
It's just like superimposing
chords onto the mode patterns, using some or all of the mode's tones in
By knowing the interval sequence between each mode (covered in more
relatonships lesson of the
series), we automatically know the interval sequence of the modal chord scale.
So, based on this knowledge, if we were to assign the root chord of the
sequence - I
- as E
the sequence would progress as follows...
In modal terms, that's E
Locrian and then the sequence repeats as we're back to the
first degree of the scale.
Remember, this is a movable relationship, so if the I
(also called the "tonic") changed to D major,
the interval sequence would be built accordingly from there.
This is why
important to know
the the fretboard!
Once we're confident with building these interval sequences in any key (the key
being defined by the tonic I
note/chord), we can then move on to learning how to identify modal
chord sequences - applying the correct mode to chord combinations from
modal chord progressions
For these examples, we'll use the C
major chord scale, which means the Ionian/I chord will be
C major. But remember, the sequences we build are relative to wherever
that tonic Ionian/I chord lies.
So, from that C major chord scale, we can assign a chord to each
of its degrees, and therefore each of its modes. We can then build
progressions around a given degree chord, and therefore a given mode,
using the related chords of the scale.
make it a specifically modal progression, the mode's related chord must
tonic of the progression. This is the chord to which the progression
resolves. Some examples...
Locrian has been left out simply because Locrian's associated chord -
the diminished (m7b5) chord - isn't really appliable as a tonic chord, or as
a stable key centre.
other words, it doesn't provide an adequate resolution to a progression
it naturally sounds unresolved!
Locrian, therefore, is used as more of a modal link/bridge between two
chords in the scale (mainly, the vi minor and I major tonics).
So, hopefully from listening to those examples above, you can hear a
different tonic/resolution chord in each modal progression we use. It's
this tonic chord that brings out the mode's unique flavour.
In a nutshell...
Each mode has its own tonic chord
rooted on its degree in the parent (major) scale.
Chord progressions can be built around each
mode to reaffirm their tonic. The tonic therefore also defines the key of the
The chord progressions are built using related
chords from other modes in the same