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Thread: Modes and Emotions

  1. #1


    Join Date: Nov 2011
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    Modes and Emotions

    W'sup?

    I have been wondering for many moons what modes of the major diatonic are associated with what emotions?

    I can "feel" 1 mode as happy / complete.
    I know that minor modes are supposed to be sad but that's not what I hear or "feel". (I actually tend feel happy with 6 because I love the way it sounds and the way melodies play out on the fretboard. Kind of an excitement and sense of accomplishment when I write a technical sounding riff around that mode.)
    But as for the rest.....I suppose there is a disconnect somewhere in my brain.


    Anyone able to teach me what I seem to be missing / misunderstanding?
    A huge plus if you can explain how and why. I have trouble understanding and accepting anything without knowing how it works and why its done that way.

  2. #2


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    I don;t really think that any one emotion has a lock on any particular mode. I've heard mixolydian come across as both pretty happy (say, a celtic jig) and pretty sad (anything by the Smashing Pumpkins) and I could see phrygian being used for something pretty sinister as well as something pretty sad and depressing. They're just notes and intervals. Some are darker than others (I'd put locrian at the darkest end of the spectrum and lydian at the lightest) but really it's WHAT you do with them rather than the notes themselves, and even really the performance, that defines the emotion.
    "They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are a bit dicier." - David Foster Wallace

  3. #3


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    [VIDEO]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0qLKHnflo]joe satriani great lesson on guitar modes part 1 - YouTube[/VIDEO]

    Satch talks about that a bit in this video series if IIRC

  4. #4


    Join Date: Mar 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasperEads View Post
    W'sup?

    I have been wondering for many moons what modes of the major diatonic are associated with what emotions?

    I can "feel" 1 mode as happy / complete.
    I know that minor modes are supposed to be sad but that's not what I hear or "feel". (I actually tend feel happy with 6 because I love the way it sounds and the way melodies play out on the fretboard. Kind of an excitement and sense of accomplishment when I write a technical sounding riff around that mode.)
    But as for the rest.....I suppose there is a disconnect somewhere in my brain.


    Anyone able to teach me what I seem to be missing / misunderstanding?
    A huge plus if you can explain how and why. I have trouble understanding and accepting anything without knowing how it works and why its done that way.

    I recommend trying this backing track, you can use it to easily experiment and experience the vibe of each of the 7 major modes...

    [VIDEO]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSFcXP1lx9o]7 Modes Backing Track - C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, etc.. Happy Jammin'!! - YouTube[/VIDEO]

  5. #5


    Join Date: Mar 2012
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    oh and this one (slightly more advanced)

    all modes starting from C [VIDEO]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m37y2mltNNI]7 Modes Backing Track - C Ionian, C Dorian, C Phrygian, etc.. Enjoy!! - YouTube[/VIDEO]

  6. #6


    Join Date: Mar 2012
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    All I remember is Flying in a Blue Dream is in C Lydian (at least the beginning solo part) and it's kind of happy with its sharped 4th.

    I need to study music theory again.

  7. #7


    Join Date: Sep 2011
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    In Indian music, a 7-note descending scale can be alot of things depending on which 2 notes you exclude for the descending version.

    Ever notice how it is possible to get the same dippy lounge jazz emotion out of any possible scale?

  8. #8


    Join Date: Nov 2011
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    Thanks guys for your input. Im still not sure how to tie down which emotions to any given scale. Though I suppose what I feel doesn't matter as long as the audience thinks it sounds cool??

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