Question by Al
About modes, do you make a complete song with basically one of the modes... like a song in Ionian, or say Dorian... the whole song? Or do you mix the modes up to have a combination of modes like Ionian, Lydian, Aeolian? I thought the latter, but see people saying songs are in one whole modes.
Very few songs are purely modal. In other words, most songs tend to venture outside the modal system. This is because nobody wants their song to be unnecessarily restricted.
You wouldn't purposefully write a modal song (at least I hope you wouldn't!) unless you were creating a backing track to practice a mode. However, some songs might end up being purely modal simply by chance.
An example I always refer to is No More Heroes by the Stranglers - pure Dorian mode.
Sweet Home Alabama is pure Mixolydian.
But then there are songs that might be modal during the verse and then go into something completely non-modal in the chorus.
Since modal progressions, like any song that uses a key center, are built around the resolution to a tonic chord, that tonic would have to change to introduce a new mode in the song. Some songs do this.
For example, here I start in the B Dorian mode...
Bm / E7 / Bm / Amaj
But then move into D Mixolydian...
Dmaj / Cmaj / Gmaj / Am
Then to link the chorus back to the verse...
Am / Dmaj / F#7 / Bm / E7 / Bm ...
Back in B Dorian again.
But as I mentioned before, most musicians don't purposefully write their songs in a particular mode. It just happens, and when it does, you can then apply your knowledge of modes to build a harmony (e.g. solo) around that progression.