I've been playing guitar for almost 12 years now. I had never really gotten into what is described as 'modal playing'; I tried years ago and it seemed so hopelessly complicated that I abandoned it.
Recently I returned to the topic, curious if my experience through the years has changed my understanding. Surprisingly, I found that (from what I understood) the concept is actually extremely simple.
Consider the following 3-note per string major scale:
This is known as the
Ionian mode. Playing these same notes (compensating at the higher end to make it a full two octaves) starting at the second scale degree gives you
Dorian, third gives you
Phrygian and so forth.
People write about 'playing in the right mode' against specific chords -- is there anything to this other than simply emphasizing a particular note? Is there some fundamental knowledge that I'm missing that transforms this into something bigger, or is 'modal playing' really just emphasizing a particular note compared to the accompaniment behind it?