Changing Guitar Modes Over Chord Progressions

Changing Guitar Modes Over Chord Progressions

Changing Guitar Modes Over Chord Progressions

“If I’m running through a chord progression of Am, F, Dm, G chords (as in Mr Jones by Counting Crowes) and noodling around with the C Major scale am I technically only playing the Aeolian Mode when the chord underneath me is Am? What if the chord progression hangs for a long while on the F; does it become a Lydian mode (4th scale degree of C)? Or does it solely depend on what chord functions as the root?”

The modal concept follows the root chord in a progression, but sometimes the root chord can change. In the verse to “Mr. Jones” the A minor chord is definitely functioning as the root. This creates the A Aeolian mode (or natural minor scale) sound. But during the chorus, the chord progression shifts and revolves around the C major chord. This produces C Ionian (or major scale). You can definitely hear the difference as the song clearly becomes brighter when the chorus hits.

If the song included a section that held the F chord long enough, then yes this would produce a Lydian sound.

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Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna (Google me!)

Comments ( 3 )

  • Anonymous

    I have watched the “modes” video several times and have gleaned new info each time, it has really de-mystified the modal approach for me.
    What still confuses me somewhat is when you refer to roots of chords of the moment, does this change the overall key feeling for instance if in the key of G you move to Aminor can you use the the Gmaj scale or would you use the A dorian pattern (which i realize is really gmaj played from a to a ?
    When the tune goes to D7 do you play a D7 scale or arpeggio or can you play a Gmaj scale or arpeggio over the D7. I guess what I am trying to get at is it sounds like everything can be played using the major scale of the key so why learn all the other scales and arpeggios. Am I correct in believing if you play a Gmaj scale from G to G over a D7 it will produce mixolydian or must u play the g scale from D to D to be in tune?
    Thanks for everything, I highly recommend your entire series

  • Mr. Desi Serna

    You’re right, you simply play the parent major scale over and the modal sound is made. It only matters what you’re playing over, not where you start in the scale. Arpeggios are still good to learn as you can map out the specific tones of each chord. Emphasizing and outlining these strong notes will help tie the scale into what you’re playing over better.