Part 10 – modes & arpeggios

Basic Instructions

1. pick a mode, a key, and a shape

2.  from within the shape you picked, play triad arpeggio associated with mode (i.e. major triad arpeggio for Ionian, Lydian & Mixolydian; minor triad arpeggio for Aeolian, Dorian, Phrygian; diminished triad arpeggio for Locrian)

3.  play the 7-note scale of the mode

4.  play lines that use any of the scale tones, but that resolve to chord tones (i.e. notes in the arpeggio)

(see diagrams below to illustrate steps 1 to 3)

More Advanced Ways to Practice

1. practice one mode all over the neck (i.e. in any shape at any time), resolving each line to chord tones as above

2.  take two chords from one mode, play their arpeggios in one position (ex: D phrygian play Dm in “A” shape and Gm in “D” shape), play two bars per chord (ex: | Dm | % | Gm | % |) and use the same pool of notes for both (ex: D phrygian scale in “A” shape) but resolve each 2-bar phrase to the respective chord tone (i.e. to d, f or a while on Dm chord, and g, bb, d while on Gm chord)

3.  introduce structure of tension and release within a mode, where r = release = 1, 3, 5 and t = tension = 2, 4, 6, 7.  (Note: any of these numbers could be flat or sharp depending on what mode you’re in).  Using two-bar phrases, do an 8-bar schematic in any of the following combinations:

  1. rrrr
  2. rrrt
  3. rrtr
  4. rtrr
  5. trrr
  6. tttt
  7. tttr
  8. ttrt
  9. trtt
  10. rttt
  11. rtrt
  12. trtr
  13. ttrr
  14. rrtt
  15. rttr
  16. trrt

Yet Another Practice Exercise

1.  play the arpeggio associated with mode I of the scale you are working on (major scale, melodic minor, harmonic minor, etc.) (ex: in Bb Ionian, the arpeggio would be Bbmaj7)

2.  play the scale itself (ex: Bb major scale)

3.  improvise within the scale position, emphasizing chords via visualizing the arpeggio notes within the scale (ex: integrate Bbmaj7 arpeggios and Bb major scale in same position)

4. work your way through all 5 shapes of CAGED, for example:

start key of Bb, shape of G

next key of Eb, shape of C

next key of Ab, shape of E

next key of Db, shape of A

next key of Gb, shape of D

5.   You are at key of B, shape of G. this is 1/2 step up from where you began.  Go to next mode and start the same process, following the keys in fourths, staying in the same area of the neck (ex: continuing from above, you play B dorian in the G shape, so you would first play Bm7 arpeggio, then Bm Dorian scale, then integrate them.   After that you would be in the key of E dorian in the C shape, etc.