Take the 2-minute tour ×
Musical Practice & Performance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I would like to learn about the art of establishing a mode. For example, how to make A minor sound like A minor instead of C major.

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers 2

The basic idea on how to establish a mode is make the tonal center of the progression and melody center the tonic chord of the modal scale.

For example this progression would signify C major.

  C - F - G - C 

The progression stats and ends with C and the melody to accompany this would use the notes of the C major scale that would start and end with a note in the C major chord.

This same progression in A natural minor would be:

  Am - Dm - Em - Am 

The progression stats and ends with Am and the melody to accompany this would use the notes of the A natural minor (C major) scale that would start and end with a note in the A minor chord.

However, most composers use the harmonic minor scale for minor keys by raising the 7th scale degree to a major 7th which would change the progression to.

  Am - Dm - E - Am 

It is still derived from C major/ A natural minor, but the scale makes A feel more like the center tone.

This is a very big topic, but this is the bare bones idea behind it. If you need more detail please ask.

share|improve this answer
1  
Just want to add that establishing a tonal center has more to do with pitch emphasis and less about chord progressions. The raised seventh in the V chord helps emphasize a pull to tonic, though this is merely one way to emphasize a pitch. –  jjmusicnotes Dec 21 '13 at 17:38
add comment

To expand on Dom's excellent answer, when you're in D dorian, it will sound quite minor, except that for the 4th chord, instead of the expected Gm, you'll use G maj.

On the mixolydian, G, it'll sound major, but a bit bluesy because of the flat 7.The 5th chord won't sound too pushy, though, as it's Dm rather than D maj. As above, you'll use all the same notes as C maj., but the home will need to be G rather than C.

When you are in F lydian, it'll sound like there's a #4 (which could be construed as a flat 5, as in blues) a sound that Vai uses.Obviously, centring will be around F.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.