Modal Harmony

by MoshZilla1016 (Aug 08, 2010)

In this lesson you will learn how to use the Major Modes to create 2 & 3 part harmonies. This is the easiest method that I have found to perform almost effortless harmony.

You will need to KNOW the following in order to complete this lesson..

1) The Major Modes
2) How To Play Modes 3 Notes Per String
3) Scale Sequencing


Since you are able to to view the modes on the scale generator or the other lessons on this site I will not be showing any visuals for this portion of the lesson but it is required to KNOW the order the Modes occur. IONIAN..DORIAN..PHRYGIAN..LYDIAN..MIXOLYDIAN..AEOLIAN..LOCRIAN. After getting familiar with the order move on to the next segment.


For the entire lesson we will use the 3 notes per string method of playing scales. The following charts are in A. The DOTTED NOTES ARE THE ROOT OF EACH SCALE.

Notice in every visual shown above THE ROOT REMAINS THE SAME. All other notes change to play the Mode. The charts are in A to allow you to hear the difference in tone each Mode holds.


A scale sequence is simply numerical value to each note of a scale in order.DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH SCALE VALUES..1st..3rd..5th..b7th..etc. Look at the example

This is an A minor Pentatonic scale. The notes are numbered in order. The 1st is 1...the b3rd is 2..the 4th is 3 and so on.....We are counting notes NOT scale degrees. So if this sequence was to be played.. you should play this...
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And that is how to follow a sequence. Once you get an understanding of sequencing it's time for the fun to begin!


Time to harmonize. Actually this is a very simple method to make you sound like Maiden, A7X or any other duo on the six string. This lesson will teach you how to harmonize the 1st(root),3rd and 5th of any of the 7 Modes.

You should have the order of the Modes memorized so let's start with Ionian.
For these examples we will only be using 9 notes to simplify the lesson.

Use this sequence to perform the example.
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To create a harmony using the 3rd of the scale just skip a Mode. A Ionian would skip B Dorian and play C# Phrygian.

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Put them together and you get...
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And for all the southern rockers..3 part harmony. Use the same method..Use A Ionian, skip B Dorian, use C# Phrygian,skip D Lydian, use E MIXOLYDIAN.

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You can also play these harmonies starting on the third or fifth lower than the root.


Tapping and hammer on harmony can be used. Just tap each string using the same sequence pattern for each mode. This example's sequence is.. string using the Ionian and Phrygian modes.

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I realize that this method may not be for everyone but I find it works best because I don't have to think about playing the third in the correct Major or minor, which can get complicated when you play different modes. It was hard enough to remember the modes so why go through the same process to figure out the third and fifth harmonies. You already know the modes play the third and fifth mode to create perfect harmony.


As you use different Modes for your root you need to use every other Mode for harmony. This chart gives you those..

Now when you and another guitarist plan harmonies you don't have to pick out every note, just use the Modes and create an interesting sequence pattern(STUDY VARIOUS SEQUENCES). This is just the tip of the iceberg but it was just the tip that sank the Titanic so take this tip and create some damage.


You can use this method to create harmony using these scales also..
1) The Harmonic Minor Modes..1st.3rd.5th
2) The Melodic Minor Modes..1st.3rd.5th
3) The Whole Tone Scale..1st.3rd only
4) Half Whole & Whole Half Scales..1st.3rd only
5) Diminished & Diminished Half..1st.3rd only

This does not work on Pentatonic Scales but try it anyway, you get some interesting stuff.

The last example uses a Whole Half ascending with a Diminished descending.

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