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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys... me (the guy from brazil) with another stupid and dummy again...LOL

I started to study theory... from the basics... I got a copy of The Jazz Theory Workbook(a very good book for beginners BTW) and something is not making any sense for me.

I will try to explain maybe you can help me to understand that...

Lets assume a basic progression Cmaj7 G7 the book says that on maj7 chords i can play the Ionian mode (so that will be C D E F G A B C) and on dominant chords I can use mixolidian mode (that will be G A B C D E F G)

I think this is a little bit funny because it is the same notes... so whats the difference? (besides the starting point) looking for that I just dont know why I cant just think in using the C major scale for the two chords? am I missing something?

Please be kind I know that a lot of you will think that is a really stupid question but Im a beginner on improvising and music theory Im just trying to improve my knowledge on the subject

Thx in advance
 

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Yes the notes in the two scales are the same, but the importance of each note is somewhat different. For example, over the Cmaj7 you could lean on the E heavily. Doing so over the G7 would clash against the F in the G7 chord. Though you might like the effect and choose to do it anyhow, the function of that E is completely different in the two chords. It's not just about what notes are in the scales, it's also about which notes you emphasize.
 

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Cmaj7 consists of CEGB and G7 of GBDF. Both chords consist of notes from the same group of notes (C scale) but have a different blend and flavor so to speak. Take a II/V7/I progression, for example D-/G7/Cmaj7, in effect you are using different "flavors" (modes) of the C scale.
I am currently learning these things myself, so I might be wrong, but this is the way I understand it.
 

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The basic explaination is ;

The C Major scale has these notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B ,C.
The Tonic in the C Major scale is C.
If we establish a new tonic on one of the notes other than C, for instance D, we now have a Mode.
The new mode on D has these notes: D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D.
This is the Dorian mode.
New modes may be created the same way on the other notes of the Major scale.
The Modes of the C Major scale:

Ionian/Major Scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
Dorian: D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D
Phrygian: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E
Lydian: F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F
Mixolydian: G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Aeolian/Natural minor scale: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A
Locrian: B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B

A Mode is a type of scale created by establishing a new tonic within a preexisting scale.

HTH.
 

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If you look at where the half steps and whole steps fall, you will notice they are in different places when the same notes are used in another mode. That is why modes have a new feel even though they are the same notes. It's important to focus on the root (first note), especially if you don't have a bass player to do that for you.
 

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Thanks for asking this question, acleitao. After years of rock and blues playing (where I mostly concentrated on tone and stamina) and years of stage band and pit orchestra playing (where reading and blending took priority) I'm finally playing with a primarily jazz-oriented combo and I've really had to begin digging into theory. I've been using books by Levine and Coker and I had pretty much the same question, especially after the answer given to me by DukeCity in this thread. It's slowly dawning on me that, rather than complicating things, thinking in terms of modes really helps understand why scales work they way they do with chords. Try sounding out the example given by Mal 2 (#2) and I think you'll see how (and why) a modal approach can be useful.
 

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What Mal 2 said about the difference in importance of each note is really the heart of the matter. It's all relational, so in the case of the C maj chord, the notes of the C maj scale are relating to C as the tonic and to the chord C maj7: C E G B. In the case of G7, the notes are related to G as the chord root and the chord G7: G B D F. If you play a C maj7 chord on the piano and play around with the notes of the C major scale it will sound quite different than when you play those same notes over the G7 chord. Or I should say certain notes will sound different in relation to the chord.

I was going to say a lot more but I think it will only confuse the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
hi guys thx for the repplies... so if I get what you said first I m comparing oranges and apples...I dont have to compare the mode (G Mixolydian G,A,B,C,D,E,F) with Ionian C( C,D,E,F,G,A,B) I have to compare it with G major scale(G,A,B,C,D,E,F#) thats first... second.. when I' m using a mode I'm changing the tension/resolution from one pitch to another(Ionian over Cmaj7 F is a tension pitch but E is resolution mixolydian G7 F sounds great but E sounds alot of tension) ... now I can pass over this and go to the next question (theres so much to learn and I'm between teachers right now so I just have you guys)....

Ok... I'm learning Stormy Weather song... Its on C Major(aebersold vol 44 version for alto sax) It has two chords for each bar (one chord for two beats and another for the next two beats) first part chords are:

C, A7b9, Dm, G7, C/E, A7b9, Dm, Fm6, C/E, A7+9,Dm,G7+, C, A7+9, Dm, G7b9,C

First question (less important but if anyone have time to answer I will be greatfull).... where that A7(all of them b9 and +9) came from? Progression of Cmajor has Am on it why that chords sound good?
Second: If you have to play this chords changes what do you will use? because change scales every two beats is too much harder... the II-V-I is used 3 times in the first part( thats my analysis LOL if someone can see another commons progressions here please show me)
a
guys thx again you are the best

PS: if you can recommend some famous records of this song I will be very greatfull
 

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i read some of the responses and I just got confused. I am not sure if anyone got to this exact point, but here is what I read and "conceived" from the OP's question.

...being that the G mixolydian scale and the C Ionian scale have the same notes, wouldnt they create the same scale and therefore the same sound since they have the same notes?

Well, to answer this question, I challenge you to play the following 3 scales, all back to back and in any order.

C Ionian- C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C
F Lydian- F,G,A,B,C,D,E,F
G mixolydian -G.A.B.C.D.E.F.G

Play all three of these scales. If you hear a difference, try and figure out WHY you hear a difference! This will start you on your journey of discovery and the sound should intrigue you.

enjoy
 

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First question (less important but if anyone have time to answer I will be greatfull).... where that A7(all of them b9 and +9) came from? Progression of Cmajor has Am on it why that chords sound good?
It's called a secondary dominant. The chord that follows the A7b9 is a Dm. Pretend for a moment that you are in the key of Dm. What is the dominant? A7, and if extended, A7b9 (because D minor has a Bb in it). That's where it comes from. A couple more you'll see a lot is C7 (in the key of C), serving as a secondary dominant to an F major chord, and D7 (again in the key of C) serving as a secondary dominant to G, which may itself be a dominant.

It can be extended from there, and often is. If you have a V-I in a temporary tonic, why not a ii-V-I? Why not a whole series of secondary dominants, like E7-A7-D7-G7? That's the bridge to "rhythm changes".

Also when you see a diminished 7th that doesn't make sense, it is probably serving the role of a secondary dominant. The equivalent in your example would be Bbdim7 (Bb-Db-E-G), as it matches the A7b9 with root omitted (A, C#, E, G, Bb), or C#dim7 (C#-E-G-Bb) which is the same thing.

Clear as mud? :twisted:
 

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I dont have to compare the mode (G Mixolydian G,A,B,C,D,E,F) with Ionian C( C,D,E,F,G,A,B) I have to compare it with G major scale(G,A,B,C,D,E,F#) ...
Well done! That's where I was going to go next but thought it might confuse the issue. Since you've made the leap, I'll point out you can learn the 'formula' for various modes when comparing them to the major scale. So in this case, mixolydian is 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7. Dorian would be 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7. And so on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ok... now I got it... I can use the secondary dominant chord as a preparation for the temporary tonic... cool... Can I borrow another chords or just the dominant V? May I use the dominant 7 or the subdominant chords as well? very cool if I could...

But two the second point... Theres to much chords on this song (like I said 2 chords per bar... ) is kind of hard to change scales on every chord

everytime the band is playing C, Dm, G7, C/E, Dm, Fm6,Dm,G7+, G7b9, I can use modes of C scale( and the notes of the chords like the b9 on G7b9) as the book said but when the band gets the A7b9 I have to use the mixolidan A scale( from D major scale) is it correct?(sorry I know that have many english errors in this sentence... hope you can understand... that is the worst sentence I wrote in my life LOL)

Yet, I want to know if is that what you do it when you guys play this song? (I know that the approaches usualy is too personal but I need a place to start...)

Thx again for your answers... you are really helping a lot

Ps: I trying to always think in chord/scale as a unity (as the book said) Im always stacking up notes in thrids and trying to see the scale behind the chords....
 

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It looks to me like you are getting the idea of this, I was going to post earlier but i didn't want to confuse things by putting a possible alternative point of view.

The idea of modes for each chord I find is very good initially, and as Tim [points out it gets you grounded in knowing what the root of each chord is, so in a G7 to C cadence, although the scale (mixolydian) is the same notes as the C scale it can help to get you to realise the root of the actual chord and the harmony you are in at the current moment.

When I was teaching this stuff at university this was a good way to start people off.

BUT

For those who delve a little further into the musicality of improvising it can be useful to think in another way (or rtaher the same way but a little deeper into the reason for the scales):

When you see a G7 what can you think?

1) The notes of the G7 = G B D F
2) How these notes can fit in melodically

OK, so the first thing to do is try just playing the chord tones. Very good exercise, but so good for melodic impro.

So what we do next is fill in some notes between.

Which notes?

Well, basically notes from the key we are in (which is C because this is part of a cadence G7 to C)

So let's play the chord tones on the strong beats, filling in eight notes in between from the C major)

G A B C D E F G

This is the actual derivation, and although it may seem the same thing, it actually isn't, because you don't always want to start each chord on the root and play a scale upwards. Ideally you think the chord tones and fill in melodically in between - this is often a scale, but is not always.

And what happens if you start in B instead of G

D E F G A B C D

Hmmm, it's gone out of whack, we now have some non chord tones on the strong beats.

I'm not going to get any further into it here, as this is definitely getting into some much more complex stuff, I just wanted to point out that although the modes to fit chords can be great to begin with, it's a system that you should sooner rather than layer think of as merely a springboard to learn the deeper stuff. (I have a lot more on my jazz theory pages that will explain this further I hope - I'd be keen to hear what you think.)

See here

If I see Dm7 G7 C - the last thing I want to do now is think to myself: "D dorian, G mixolydian, C ionianian". By the time I've got my brian round that the chords are over. Instead I just might think "C major notes, but get some of the important chord tones from Dm7 and G7 in strategic places for a nice melodic phrase. Otherwise I just end up running up and down a scale or two.

BTW, there is also a lot more on secondary dominants on those pages.

Again two ways of looking at them. You can think of them as preparing for a temporary tonic which never actually arrives because more often than not it's another dominant or minor 7 chord..
 

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I wish people would just learn to play by ear because these formulas are making jazz boring to me.
Fine, but jazz theory or music theory isn't compulsory. You can choose how you want to learn, live and let live that's what I say.
 

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I guess it's like Bach in the way you can do it all on paper; you know the way they teach harmony but you still won't be Bach if you just follow all the rules.
 

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No, I think ideally it's a bit of both. Very few people are blessed with the ability to do it all by ear, I know I'm not and neither were any of the students I had, so I devised a theory class and combined theory with practical aural experience.

If you can do it all by ear then I certainly congratulate you and take my hat off in respect.
 

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Theres to much chords on this song (like I said 2 chords per bar... ) is kind of hard to change scales on every chord
.
This is where the chord/scale approach tends to fall apart. The chords are going by every two beats and you are somehow going to think of a different scale every two beats? I can't imagine doing that. As Pete explained, far better to think in terms of chord tones. In many cases you can play off the melody of the tune also. I think this is very true for ballads. In other words, try to hear the melody in your head as you play and your note choices should fall within the chord changes without having to think of every single chord going by.

Differencetone, as to doing it all by ear, with no idea of the underlying harmony, I wish I could do that. I doubt more than one in a thousand could do it even if they worked at it. It might sound anti-intuitive, but imo, in order to play BY EAR, you need to have some understanding of the harmony, chord progression, and overall structure (AABA, ABA, AAB, etc) of the tune you are playing. It is true that once you've played a given tune enough to have digested all that, you don't have to think about it and you can just improvise on it. It's not a matter of formulaic playing, far from it. It's a matter of knowing the harmonic foundation on which you are improvising. Of course it's great to come up with original ideas (that's the idea), but it also has to sound good. It won't sound good if what you play clashes too much with what the rest of the band is playing!

If you really don't want to learn any music theory, then stick to reading music and you'll be fine.
 

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I think the basic problem is learning when to play modally (or using just chord-scales) and when to play harmonically.

To me, trying to learn all the chord scales for a progression like C Am7 Dm7 G7 where the chords are 2-to-a-bar is just wrong. (Learning the apreggios is another story, that's very important!) It doesn't help you learn how to "play the changes", or play a decent melodic line, which is usually what people want to do. Chord scales are good for sections where the chords last for 2 or more bars, like say, 8 bars at a time. But otherwise they are, IMHO, useless and will clutter up a beginner's mind. Better to learn about harmonic tension and release and guide tones.

To the OP, I would just think of these chords as belonging to C major, and try to play a melody that enhances or reinforces the harmonic progression. Learn the guide tones and follow them. Forget about chord scales when the chords are going by this fast.

This is not to say that chord scales aren't important, but for bebop or standard progressions, it's much more useful to think in terms of key center(s). This will help with those secondary dominants too; only alter the notes that NEED to be altered to fit the chord. So, substituting A7 in the above progression, only change C to C# and you'll be fine. If you went by the chord scale approach, you'd have F# in that scale, and I think that, while it might sound OK, and might even be useful when exploring some additional harmonic stuff, it detracts from the key center.
 
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