Modal Harmony: An In-Depth How-To Guide

How to write and play with modal harmony? That’s a good question! Once we grasp the sounds of the modes, how do we actually use them in our compositions and improvisations?

Over certain chords in a functional, tonal chord progression? Sure, that works. “The Dorian mode goes over the ii chord and the Mixolydian mode goes over the V7 chord.”

But we can tap into a mode’s true sound by playing modally or playing within modal harmony. This article is an in-depth How To Guide to writing and playing with modal harmony!

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Ionian Mode: Everything You Need to Know About Ionian

The Ionian Mode is the first mode of the Diatonic Major Scale. Let’s look and listen to it with a bit more detail.

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The Dorian Brightness Quotient

This is an article inspired by a great musician and YouTuber named Adam NeelyIn the linked video, the discussion turns to the idea of brightness and darkness in chords and scales and introduces the idea of the Dorian Brightness Quotient.

Simply put, the Dorian Brightness Quotient describes a scale’s brightness (or darkness) compared to the Dorian mode. Of course, there’s more to it than that, and more to discuss, so let’s get into it!

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Musical Light Spectrum: Brightness and Darkness

Musical brightness and darkness is something that has been on my mind lately. This idea of a ‘musical light spectrum’ is really interesting. I call it a spectrum, but it’s actually cyclical and doesn’t necessarily work with absolutes. Brightness and darkness are relative ideas.

The concept of brightness and darkness in music theory is applied to chords, scales, and harmony in general.

In this article, we’ll discuss the idea of musical light: brightness and darkness!

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Chords of the Harmonic Major Scale

The Harmonic Major Scale is probably the least know of the 4 main heptatonic scales (Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, Harmonic Major). As we’ve done with the other scales listed above, in this article we’ll look into the chords of the Harmonic Major Scale!

We’ll look mostly at triads and seventh chords but will stray away from tertian harmony to in order to include some other interesting chords of the Harmonic Major Scale.

Let’s get into it!

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Chords of the Melodic Minor Scale

When thinking diatonically in functional harmony, we harmonize and build chords based on the Diatonic Scale (Major Scale and its modes). This creates strong and common chord progressions. But what happens if we build chords based upon the Melodic Minor Scale?

Well, it wouldn’t be considered “functional harmony,” but the chord progressions would certainly sound interesting. Learning the chords of the Melodic Minor will also aid tremendously in the practical application of the scale. And that practicality shows up in soloing, composition, and general thinking of chord-scale relationships.

This article will offer some important “triads” and seventh chords of the Melodic Minor Scale and how we build those chords!

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Composing With Modal Arpeggios

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about modes, modal composition, and modal arpeggios. Studying modes and modal composition has been fulfilling and inspiring in my musical journey. And I’d like to share a concept I’ve been using in my music. What I call modal arpeggios!

What Is a Modal Arpeggio?

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The Only Musical Scale You Need To Know

Learning every musical scale is a daunting and tedious task. Learning the notes; what chords they form; and how they sound are all part of the process. Learning to play those notes in all octaves is another challenge for the producers among us who play instruments.

But what if there was a single scale you could learn that you could then build all the other scales around?

Well, it turns out there is, and chances are you already know of it!

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5 Effective Ways To Think About The Modes Of The Major Scale

The modes of the Major Scale can be intimating to learn. There’s a certain cloud of confusion surrounding the modes. I know I had a difficult time grasping their function in music. It’s one thing to know what they are, and another to put them to use in writing. This article will look at 5 different ways to understand the concept of modes so that we can better use them in our music!

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