Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A long time ago, in Fresno, California...

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I'll keep this brief.

Which reminds me of a joke. Pete Wentz was asked by a reporter what kind of underwear he prefers, boxers or briefs? He thought a minute, and said..."well, depends!"

But I digress.

I'm proud to accept the Arte Y Pico award for The Doghouse. I'm not quite sure how to pronounce it, but thank you. I surely do appreciate it.

It all started a long time ago, roughly a year ago. As a younger man hunched over a slow laptop in a small home studio, The Doghouse started.....Does it count if my Mom gave me the award? Sure it does! Does it count if I'm typing this in the voice of Ted Baxter, the arrogant but lovable newsman from The Mary Tyler Moore Show? You bet it does!

How many of you are lucky enough to have a Mom to give you a nice write up like this? Check out her blog! It's neat. And how many of you can do bang up impressions, sucka? I pity the fool! (No wonder my voice is sore.)

Now, for our question from Nobel Peace Prize winner "Sergent Slayer." He's got a question, so listen up and learn, Soldier!

I read somewhere on the forum that those scales give different feelings. How do all those scales sound so different if i'm just using the same notes. sounds all the same to me. i'm just a little confused on how and when i would use modes.

Sarge! A terrific question, indeedy.

The simplest answer is this: Since a scale isn't exactly symmetrical (there's whole steps and half steps), if you cut it up in certain places, those wholes and halves are gonna show up in different places in the order of the scale. A half step between the 7th and 8th notes leads the scale on, as in the Ionian and Lydian modes. The same half step placed between the 1st and 2nd notes of the Locrian scale adds a dark sound. So, since they're in different places, they lend the modes different sounds. Comparing it to food, like I always do, brushing your teeth before you drink orange juice tastes mighty different than vice versa. They're the same substances, just in a different order. The first mode and the seventh mode sound a lot different, because the interval between the root and fifth of each scale is different. (The Ionian contains a perfect fifth, and the Locrian contains a flatted fifth.)

How about over chords?

Here's one way to look at it. (Remember, there's more than one.)

We're in the key of C, and the band is playing an Am7 chord. This happens to be the vi chord of the key. We could play the C major scale (1st, or Ionian mode) over the chord. After all, it contains all the right notes. However, the scale revolves around C, and the chord revolves around A. Nothing will clash, but the two tonal centers might vie for each other's attention, and you might lose the contest with the bass player in your own contest of vying for the attention of super hot girl in the front row who's the singer's girlfriend but he's a wimble and......Oh, never mind. Kiddies, learn from Uncle Josh about how not to be with run on sentences and how to respect band member's territory.

Sarge, in plain English, there's several camps. You can play any mode over any chord in the same key. However, matching things up rather loosely can give you a more consonant sound. If the song is in C, and it's revolving around the C chord, C Ionian can be a good choice. If it's in A minor (which is the same as the key of C, but it's referred to as the relative minor,) then A Aeolian, the sixth mode is usually a strong contender.

If the song is in the key of C, but everything is gravitating towards the ii chord, D minor, then D Dorian, the second mode, is probably your scale for the job.

Ya with me?

Other camps say that you can simply treat modes as positions for your hand, and shred through them.

Yet another camp (the one that wears berets and thinks they're superior with their hollow body guitars,) suggests that each mode be matched with each chord. If you're playing a ii-V-I in C
(Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7), they suggest D Dorian, G Mixolydian, and C Ionian. That would the be second, fifth, and first modes, respectively. A jazz-approved way, to be sure.

There's no right or wrong way to approach this, and I suggest that you try all ways. Be like an electron according to quantum mechanics, and travel an infinite number of paths to reach your destination. The singer's chick will probably think that's nifty.

At the end of the day, remember- there's no one right way to approach this. Have fun, and rock on!


Square-Peg Karen said...

Ted Baxter!!! Oh, I sooo want to see you do that impression in person - YOU're a wildman Josh, very cool that your very cool mama gave you the arte y pico award (and if you DO find out how to pronounce it, yell over my way will ya??)

Anonymous said...

Woot! Congrats on the award, doesn't matter where it came from because it's still an award!

Great post too about modes, they sometimes elude me when I'm working on my solos. This post helps me out quite a bit though, so cheers!