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DulciTheory #11

SOME EXCELLENT QUESTIONS (about modes) ANSWERED

A few weeks ago, one of my peers sent me an email asking some incredibly probing and insightful questions about theory, and most of the questions were directly related to modes.

Below you will read the questions, and my gut-level, spontaneous responses. Please bear in mind that this person (who prefers to remain anonymous) is an extremely accomplished dulcimer performer as well as being a superb teacher. Because of this, my responses tended toward the direct "no-punches-pulled," "get-right-to-the-problem" style. If you don't fully get what I'm talking about here, don't despair! I will explain everything in depth in due time.

Q: Now I have a silly question, I know, but need an answer. I am making a chart . I know the first chord is called the tonic... But is there a name for the I II III IV V VI VII VIII? Are they just chords or is there a technical name for them?

A: Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant, Leading Tone

Q: Also can you explain the major and minor thing. Am I correct in saying that the I, IV, V, VII and VIII are major and the rest are minor in the Mix. mode?

A: Whoa!!!! First of all, PLEASE KNOW from this day forward that you are talking about the Major Scale (Ionian) and NOT the Mixolydian Mode (unless you are confusing the tuning with the mode -- in which case you need more help than I can deliver right here, though this help is on the way in the form of my DulciTheory newsletter and web site -- so don't despair if this is the case.)

In the major scale, there are (3) different types of triads:

  1. 1 - 3 - 5 major (I, IV, V)
  2. 1 -b3 - 5 minor (ii, iii, vi) [lower-case roman numerals often used for minor]
  3. 1 -b3 -b5 diminished (vii)

Q: Is that true in all modes?

A: The above three triad categories span the entire seven diatonic modes, but they are, of course, shifted in location and hence, function, when you choose a different mode:

Dorian Mode:

i -- ii -- III -- IV -- v -- vi -- VII ... or as I write:

i -- ii -- bIII -- IV -- v -- vi -- bVII

(hint: don't try to relate this to the dulcimer just yet, because it will just confuse you due to the mixed-mode environment characteristic of any dulcimer tuning)

Q: Or is that what makes the modes sound different.

A: I think what makes the modes sound different is that each one has a unique "signature" of intervals, and I always relate those intervals to the drone for a continual reference point.

Q: Dumb questions huh.

A: Nonsense!!! These are the kinds of questions which allow you to learn! They are **precisely** the sort of questions that expose you as someone needing the knowledge, but most people never get around to phrasing them and asking in a clear, non-pretentious way. So.....the result is that they remain clueless forever.

Q: Also does the Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do change when the modes change?

A: Dorian:

Do -- Re -- Me("may") -- Fa -- Sol -- La -- Te("tay") -- Do

1  -- 2  -- b3        -- 4  -- 5   -- 6  -- b7        -- 1

...you should learn to sing all the modes with the above solfege!


DulciTheory #12

MORE ON MODES

Last time we did a little intro to the modes, and I answered some great questions on the modes from one of my peers. This time I will give you some D-A-D fingerboard charts for the four most common modes used in folk music:

All of these modes will be accessed on your D-A-D tuned dulcimer, so they will be the modes RELATIVE to D Major (D Ionian):

B Aeolian is also called the natural minor or "pure minor" scale. You also might hear the term "Relative Minor" for this key:

By extension, we can also use this same terminology to define our modal relationships:

ALL of these modes share the same key signature of two sharps.

SCALE-DEGREE FINGERBOARD SURVEYS for Tuning: D-A-D

D IONIAN (D Major):

1|---------2|-------3|---4|------5|-----6|--|-7|-1|---2|--3|-4|
5|---------6|-------7|---1|------2|-----3|-4|--|-5|---6|--7|-1|
1|---------2|-------3|---4|------5|-----6|--|-7|-1|---2|--3|-4|

E DORIAN:

b7|---------1|-------2|--b3|------4|-----5|--|-6|b7|---1|--2|
_4|---------5|-------6|--b7|------1|-----2|b3|--|-4|---5|--6|
b7|---------1|-------2|--b3|------4|-----5|--|-6|b7|---1|--2|

A MIXOLYDIAN:

4|---------5|-------6|--b7|------1|-----2|--|-3|-4|---5|--6|b7|
1|---------2|-------3|---4|------5|-----6|b7|--|-1|---2|--3|-4|
4|---------5|-------6|--b7|------1|-----2|--|-3|-4|---5|--6|b7|

B AEOLIAN:

b3|---------4|-------5|--b6|-----b7|-----1|--|-2|b3|---4|--5|
b7|---------1|-------2|--b3|------4|-----5|b6|--|b7|---1|--2|
b3|---------4|-------5|--b6|-----b7|-----1|--|-2|b3|---4|--5|

APPLICATIONS

Now.....getting right to the heart of the matter, which is how you actually USE this stuff:

With the E DORIAN -----> Suppose we wanted to get the sound, the color and the "vibe" of the Dorian mode. Here are a few options:

  1. Slap your capo on the first fret and use the dronal sound of the capoed frets -- acting as open strings -- to support our E DORIAN as it moves up and down all 3 strings.
  2. Using the regular D-A-D dulcimer: Emphasize the 1 and 5 (root and fifth) by FRETTING these notes as a "base position," or Reference Structure, while you move the successive degrees of the Dorian mode THROUGH this root and fifth drone.

It is this second option we will explore here, via an arpeggiated TAB that you can flatpick or fingerpick your way through:

USING THE FIRST 3 FRETS:

   Em7   /     /     /       /     /     /     /      
D|-1-----2-----3-----------|-1-----------1-----1-----|
A|----------1--------0-----|-1-----2-----1-----1-----|
D|----1-----------1-----1--|-------------0-----1-----|

using the base position, or dronal reference structure:

T--1--
A--1--
B--1--

.....which is simply E, B, E -- or Root, 5th, Root.

USING FRETS 3 --> 8:

   Em7   /     /     /       /     /     /     /      
D|----5-----5-----5--------|-5-----------5-----5-----|
A|-4-----5--------------4--|-4-----------6-----6-----|
D|-------------3-----4-----|-5-----6+----7-----8-----|

using the base position, or dronal reference structure:

T--5--
A--4--
B--5--

.....which is simply B, E, B -- or 5th, Root, 5th.

EXERCISES TO COMPLETE (HOOPS!):

  1. Referring to the Fingerboard Survey for A MIXOLYDIAN, build your own TAB that MOVES the A MIX THROUGH its own, unique dronal Reference Structure. As in the example above, do the first 3 frets -- then move to the middle regions of the fingerboard.
  2. Do the same for B AEOLIAN.
  3. If you've done this and still need more to do, then do your own Scale Degree Survey and TAB for:

Try to get your ears wrapped around the dramatic shifts and unique colors of each mode. Make a special note of what parts of the mode sound "different" -- or what particular scale degrees really STICK OUT with a particular mode.

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DulciTheory #13

A7 and D7 Chords on 4-String Equidistant

For the purposes of DulciTheory, let's use our reference charts to scope out some great A7 or A9 chords, and then we'll find some D7 or D9 chords. Most of the first exercises from the January 2004 CD just used a repeating four measure reference structure:

.  A7    /     /     /       /     /     /     /      
D|-------------------------|-------------------------|
A|-------------------------|-------------------------|
D|-------------------------|-------------------------|
D|-------------------------|-------------------------|

.  D9    /     /     /       /     /     /     /      
.|-------------------------|-------------------------||
.|-------------------------|-------------------------||
.|-------------------------|-------------------------||
.|-------------------------|-------------------------||

Here is a survey of all pitches in D-A-D-D:

D|-----------E|--------F#|----G|-------A|------B|--C|-C#|--D|-----E|
A|-----------B|--------C#|----D|-------E|-----F#|--G|-G#|--A|-----E|
D|-----------E|--------F#|----G|-------A|------B|--C|-C#|--D|-----E|
D|-----------E|--------F#|----G|-------A|------B|--C|-C#|--D|-----E|

Now, we let R = A to find all numerical scale degrees for chords with a root of A:

4|-----------5|---------6|---b7|-------R|------2|-b3|--3|--4|-----5|
R|-----------2|---------3|----4|-------5|------6|-b7|--7|--R|-----2|
4|-----------5|---------6|---b7|-------R|------2|-b3|--3|--4|-----5|
4|-----------5|---------6|---b7|-------R|------2|-b3|--3|--4|-----5|

So.....if we are looking specifically for A7 chords, here is the formula:

Fingerboard Survey: A7

A C# E G
R 3 5 b7

Now here is a survey showing just the 4 ingredients of the A7 chord:

.|-----------5|----------|---b7|-------R|-------|---|--3|---|-----5|
R|------------|---------3|-----|-------5|-------|-b7|---|--R|------|
.|-----------5|----------|---b7|-------R|-------|---|--3|---|-----5|
.|-----------5|----------|---b7|-------R|-------|---|--3|---|-----5|

The voicing I started with on the 4-bar exercises looks like this:

A7/C#

.|------------|----------|-----|--------|-------|---|--3|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|--------|-------|-b7|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|-------R|-------|---|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|--------|-------|---|---|---|-----5|

(notice that it has all four ingredients! A BIG plus for the 4-equidistant set-up)

The next step is find a nearby way to shift to D7 or D9 (they are very similar-sounding tense dominant chords and may be interchanged freely). So here are the A7 and D7 surveys one after another:

A7:

.|-----------5|----------|---b7|-------R|-------|---|--3|---|-----5|
R|------------|---------3|-----|-------5|-------|-b7|---|--R|------|
.|-----------5|----------|---b7|-------R|-------|---|--3|---|-----5|
.|-----------5|----------|---b7|-------R|-------|---|--3|---|-----5|

D7:

R|------------|---------3|-----|-------5|-------|-b7|---|--R|------|
5|------------|----------|----R|--------|------3|---|---|--5|------|
R|------------|---------3|-----|-------5|-------|-b7|---|--R|------|
R|------------|---------3|-----|-------5|-------|-b7|---|--R|------|

So we might do something like this for a nearby D7:

.|------------|----------|-----|--------|-------|-b7|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|--------|------3|---|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|-------5|-------|---|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|--------|-------|---|---|--R|------|

.....or we could sustain the high E at the 8th fret of the melody string, which becomes the 9th of a D9 chord:

.|------------|----------|-----|--------|-------|-b7|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|--------|------3|---|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|-------5|-------|---|---|---|------|
.|------------|----------|-----|--------|-------|---|---|---|-----9|

....which is actually what I used on all the beginning exercises:

.  A7    /     /     /       /     /     /     /      
D|-------6+----------6+----|-------6+----------6+----|
A|-------6-----------6-----|-------6-----------6-----|
D|-------4-----------4-----|-------4-----------4-----|
D|-------8-----------8-----|-------8-----------8-----|

.  D9    /     /     /       /     /     /     /      
.|-------6-----------6-----|-------6-----------6-----||
.|-------5-----------5-----|-------5-----------5-----||
.|-------4-----------4-----|-------4-----------4-----||
.|-------8-----------8-----|-------8-----------8-----||

There are, of course, many, many more tasty voicings of these two chords, and I encourage you to find more of your own. Try finding some A9 to D9 voicings in the first 4 or 5 frets.

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DulciTheory #14

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR

These tablature exercises are from a recent workshop -- they are a good example of how you can open out a simple tune and embellish the harmony, create some polyphonic texture, and generally transform the tune into an infinitely varied reference structure. You can then hang all sorts of new melodic material and improvisations on this new structure. I have only given you some tidbits here, but you can take it from here if you use your imagination.

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR

 D   /   /   /    /   /   /   /    G   /   /   /    D   /   /   /    
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|0-------0-------|4-------4-------|5-------5-------|4---------------|

 Em  /   /   /    D   /   /   /    A7  /   /   /    D   /   /   /
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1-------1-------|0---------------|

 D   /   /   /    A7  /   /   /    D   /   /   /    A7  /   /   /
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|4-------4-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1---------------|

 D   /   /   /    A7  /   /   /    D   /   /   /    A7  /   /   /
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|4-------4-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1---------------|

 D   /   /   /    /   /   /   /    G   /   /   /    D   /   /   /
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|0-------0-------|4-------4-------|5-------5-------|4---------------|

 Em  /   /   /    D   /   /   /    A7  /   /   /    D   /   /   /
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1-------1-------|0---------------|
_._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._._
<|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|><|>
~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~'~

CHALLENGES:

  1. Getting some nice movement in the bass line / good contrary motion where you can
  2. How the bass line generates chords and suggests chord choices: especially chords in inversion
  3. Speeding up the HARMONIC RHYTHM and getting sub-cycles of chords going
  4. Decorating and embellishing the melody -- spinning out motives --> UNFOLDING the chords
_____________________________________________________________________
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.) Getting some nice movement in the bass line / good contrary
motion where you can:

 D   /   /   /    /   /   /   /    G   /   /   /    D   /   /   /
|0---------------|0---------------|3---------------|2---------------|
|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|3---------------|3---------------|
|0-------0-------|4-------4-------|5-------5-------|4---------------|
_____________________________________________________________________
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
2.) How the bass line generates chords and suggests chord choices:
especially chords in inversion:

 D   /   /   /    DM7 /   /   /    G   /   /   /    D/F#    /   /
|0---------------|0---------------|3---------------|2---------------|
|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|3-------3-------|3---------------|
|0-------0-------|4-------4-------|5-------5-------|4---------------|

 Em  /   /   /    D   /   /   /    A7/G/   /   /    D/F#    /   /
|1---------------|0---------------|3---------------|2---------------|
|1---------------|0---------------|0---------------|0---------------|
|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1-------1-------|0---------------|
_____________________________________________________________________
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
3.) Speeding up the HARMONIC RHYTHM and getting sub-cycles of chords
going:

 D   /   /   /    DM7 /   /   /    G   /   Em  /    D/F#    DM7/F#
|0---------------|0---------------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|
|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|3-------4-------|3-------2-------|
|0-------0-------|4-------4-------|5-------5-------|4-------4-------|

 Em7 /   A7  /    D   /   Bm/D     Em/G    A7/G     D/F#/   /   /
|1-------4-------|0-------0-------|3-------3-------|2---------------|
|3-------2-------|0-------1-------|1-------2-------|0---------------|
|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1-------1-------|0---------------|


 DM7 /   /   /    Em  /   /   /    F#m /   /   /    A7sus4/G
|0---------------|1---------------|2---------------|3-------3-------|
|2---------------|1---------------|2---------------|3-------2-------|
|4-------4-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1-------1-------|

 DM7 /   /   /    Em  /   /   /    F#m /   /   /    A7sus4/G
|0---------------|1---------------|2---------------|3-------3-------|
|2---------------|1---------------|2---------------|3-------2-------|
|4-------4-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|2---4---1-------|
_____________________________________________________________________
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
4.) Decorating and embellishing the melody -- spinning out motives --
UNFOLDING the chords:

 D   /   /   /    DM7 /   /   /    G   /   Em  /    D/F#    DM7/F#
|0---------------|0---------------|----3-----------|2---------------|
|----3-------3---|----2-----------|--------4-------|----3---2-------|
|0-------0-------|4-------2---4---|5-----------5---|4-----------4---|

 Em7 /   A7  /    D   /   Bm/D     Em/G    A7/G     D/F#/   /   /
|1---------------|0---------------|3-----------3---|2---------------|
|----1---2-------|--------1-------|--------2-------|3---------------|
|3-----------3---|2-------2-------|1---0-----------|0---------------|

 DM7 /   /   /    Em  /   /   /    F#m7/   /   /    A7sus4/G
|0-------0-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|3-------3-------|
|5-------5-------|4-------4-------|2---4---2---4---|----3---2-------|
|4---6+--4---6+--|3---5---3---5---|2---4---2---4---|1-----------1---|

 DM7 /   /   /    Em7 /   /   /    F#m /   /   /    A7sus4  A7
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----7---6+------|
|7-------7-------|6-------6-------|5-------5-------|----5---4-------|
|6+--8---6+--8---|5---7---5---7---|4---6+--4---6+--|4-----------4---|

 D   /   /   /    DM7 /   /   /    G   /   Em  /    D   /   /   /
|0---------------|0---------------|0---------------|0---------------|
|------------3---|2-------0-------|6---7-----------|----5-6-5-------|
|2---1---0-------|4---3---2-------|--------5---6+--|7-----------4---|

 Em7 /   A7/G     D/F#    Bm       Em/G    A7/G     D/F#/   /   /
|1---2---3-------|2---------------|3-----------3---|2---------------|
|------------4---|--------1-------|--------2-------|3---------------|
|3---4---5-------|4---3---2-------|1---0-----------|0---------------|
_____________________________________________________________________
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
5.) a. Taking note of the common 6-5 suspension* sometimes heard in
the 4th measure of the B Part:

 DM7 /   /   /    Em  /   /   /    D   /   Bm  /    A7
|0---------------|1---------------|0---------------|----------------|
|2---------------|1---------------|0-------1-------|----0-------0---|
|4-------4-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|2-------1-------|
                                                    6------>5
    b. Pair it with its lower 4-3 suspension (same as in Hush Little
      Baby):

 DM7 /   /   /    Em  /   /   /    D   /   Bm  /    A7
|0---------------|1---------------|0---------------|4---------------|
|2---------------|1---------------|0-------1-------|----3---2---0---|
|4-------4-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|2-------1-------|
                                                        4-->3
                                                    6------>5
    c. Do the 4-3 suspension only:

 DM7 /   /   /    Em  /   /   /    D   /   Bm  /    Asus4   A
|0---------------|1---------------|0---------------|4-------4-------|
|2---------------|1---------------|0-------1-------|----3---2-------|
|4-------4-------|3-------3-------|2-------2-------|1-----------1---|

*suspensions are given in intervals above the bass, as is the norm
in Western Classical Theory. In this case the bass note is A, so a
4--->3 would simply be D--->C#. The 6--->5 would be F#--->E.

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