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Author Topic:   Modal Chord Progression Construction
MajorProgress

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posted January 24, 2003 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MajorProgress     Edit/Delete Message
I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out a clear cut strategy for creating chord progressions. All chord progressions/retrogressions can be valid and useful, however, there are definitely chord progressions that sound more pleasing than others. These sorts of chord progressions tend to follow a similar pattern that is derived from authentic cadences and circle progressions. Music theory textbooks usually present some sort of chart similar to the one displayed below. These charts, however, are usually only for the Ionian mode of the Major scale and do not cover the other modes. I am trying to find out if anyone knows more about harmonic progressions and their relation to various modes of a particular major (or even minor) scale.

Let's start out by listing all of the modes derived from the C Major scale:

C Major Scale with Derivative Modes

code:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 C Ionian C D E F G A B
2 D Dorian D E F G A B C
3 E Phrygian E F G A B C D
4 F Lydian F G A B C D E
5 G Mixolydian G A B C D E F
6 A Aeolian A B C D E F G
7 B Locrian B C D E F G A

Now let's harmonize those scales using triads:

Harmonized C Major Scale with Derivative Modes

code:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 C Ionian Cmaj Dmin Emin Fmaj Gmaj Amin Bdim
2 D Dorian Dmin Emin Fmaj Gmaj Amin Bdim Cmaj
3 E Phrygian Emin Fmaj Gmaj Amin Bdim Cmaj Dmin
4 F Lydian Fmaj Gmaj Amin Bdim Cmaj Dmin Emin
5 G Mixolydian Gmaj Amin Bdim Cmaj Dmin Emin Fmaj
6 A Aeolian Amin Bdim Cmaj Dmin Emin Fmaj Gmaj
7 B Locrian Bdim Cmaj Dmin Emin Fmaj Gmaj Amin


Now let's look at a chord progression chart as typically presented in music theory textbooks:

Chord Progression Chart:

code:

iii --> vi --> [ii, IV] --> [V, vii°] --> I --> to any chord
^ |
|_______________________________|


NOTE: [V, vii°] are called dominants and [ii, IV] are called predominants.

If we substitute in the C Major Scale (Ionian Mode) we get:

code:

Emin --> Amin --> [Dmin, Fmaj] --> [Gmaj, Bdim] --> Cmaj --> to any chord
^ |
|_________________________________________|


Here are some "valid" progressions taken from this chart:

Cmaj -> Fmaj -> Gmaj
Cmaj -> Emin -> Amin -> Fmaj -> Gmaj
Cmaj -> Amin -> Dmin -> Gmaj

etc...

Now, how do we apply this concept to other modes. Well, if we change modes we are changing the function of each chord. We could rewrite the chart for the Dorian Mode of a Major Scale:

code:

III --> vi° --> [ii, IV] --> [v, VII] --> i --> to any chord
^ |
|________________________________|


If we substitute in the D Dorian Mode (of the C Major Scale) we get:
code:

Fmaj --> Bdim --> [Emin, Gmaj] --> [Amin, Cmaj] --> Dm --> to any chord
^ |
|_________________________________________|


Here are some "valid" chord progressions taken from this chart:

Dm -> Fmaj -> Emin -> Amin
Dm -> Gmaj -> Amin
Dm -> Cmaj-> Fmaj

The triads are the same, but the FUNCTION is different. In D Dorian mode, the Dm chord functions as the tonic (or tonal center). Is it safe to assume, that taking the original chord progression chart and modifying it appropriately for each mode of a major scale will produce "valid" chord progressions? If this is the case, then knowledge of the major scales, modes and chord progression chart becomes very powerful as a composition "tool box".

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GuitarGretta

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posted January 24, 2003 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GuitarGretta     Edit/Delete Message
There were stricted rules about movement imposed on me in school. They were the only acceptable progressions in part writing because they were the ones used in the "Classical" periods. We couldn't branch out until we could follow them because they were the ones that were pleasing to the western ear. Of course they were blown off by later composers (and us), but when I find a "normal sounding" progression, it almost always follows those rules. It's been so long but I'm going to try anyway.
you can move:
up a step, up a 4th, down a third, I to anything, and anything to I. (V to anything, anything to V???)I don't think that is all, someone who knows, help. I would like to remember.
So yeah (I think) as long as you follow those rules, they can be applied anywhere. Thanks for the long post... it gave me a starting point to try and remember.

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dmt

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posted January 24, 2003 04:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dmt     Edit/Delete Message
MajorProgress (great name, btw!),

This is a very interesting question that I've also thought about quite a bit. Like you, I don't yet have a definitive answer. However, I do have some results/ideas:

It seems like Roman numeral chord positions can kind of have the same functions, at least sometimes. I'm not sure if they're technically the same function, but you can often generate useable progressions thinking of things in Ionic progression terms, especially if you avoid 7ths (and particularly that Dominant 7th chord that lurks somewhere in every harmonized mode). I'm thinking of the classic I-IV-V progression right now.

I IV V in C major yields: C F G
I IV V in C minor (aeolian) gives us: Cm Fm Gm. You might label it "i iv v", but I think you can see my idea.
I IV V in C Dorian: Cm F Gm

These are all very useable, recognizeable progressions.

_______________________________
When creating a progression based on modes, beware of a dominant7th chord - especially one followed by a non-dominant major chord a 4th higher (aka, a 5th lower). This will sound like a V7-I progression to the ear, and tend to make the listener (and player) hear that new, major scale key.

Example in C minor: Cm Bb7 Eb ...
(this will tend to make you hear the key of Eb Major)
________________________________
I think the Dominant 7th chord, regardless of Roman numeral position, always tends to take on a dominant, "leading to I" type of function. I think, because of the lack of a dominant 7 in the 'V' position, modal progressions that use a I (or i)-V (or v) tend to be weaker/more dreamy than major scale I-V7 progressions.
________________________________

It can be a matter of perspective. Modal progressions are usually thought of as mutations of major scale harmony. Take for example, the classic [in rock] I IV bVII progression. The obvious problem is that there is no bVII in a major scale! How do you explain this? - Well, for one, that progression fits perfectly with the Mixolydian mode. In C again,: C F Bb

We just explain the Bb as a bVII compared to the major scale.
________________________
Oops!, look at the time! Gotta run, I'll post more later. Or, I'll just read other people's better ideas!

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CptAhabVonDoobageKiper

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posted January 25, 2003 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for CptAhabVonDoobageKiper     Edit/Delete Message
quote:
"Is it safe to assume, that taking the original chord progression chart and modifying it appropriately for each mode of a major scale will produce "valid" chord progressions? If this is the case, then knowledge of the major scales, modes and chord progression chart becomes very powerful as a composition "tool box"."

^
|___Well,that "IS" the $64 mil. question now isn't it?

If anyone could please clarify this that would be really helpful.

also if [ii and IV]= "pre"-dominants and [V and vii*]= "dominants" and I is "tonic" then what about iii and vi?,aren't these also considered "tonics"?

I think there might be something to this,if only of somewhat minor significance "or" something more(?),I'm not sure.

S.O.S.[HELP!]-save me from the theory monster!

CpN'

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dmt

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posted January 25, 2003 05:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dmt     Edit/Delete Message
Capt. Doobie,

I iii and vi are essentially "tonic", while ii IV V and vii are essentially "dominant".

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dmt

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posted January 25, 2003 05:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dmt     Edit/Delete Message
Some more of my thoughts on modes and composition:

In classical composition (after the key system was established, but pre-modern), the V7 - I progression was considered essential to establishing key. The aeolian mode might be considered to be the first common mode used for composition, but the lack of a dominant7 in the V position pissed the boyz off so much that it led to the creation of the Harmonic Minor. Harmonizing the Harmonic Minor yields up that beloved V7. To hear the harmonic minor in action, try listening to "In The Hall of The Mountain King" from Peer Gynt (by Grieg).
______________________________
I think most music would address a chord outside of the Ionian or Aeolian modes with a change in scale/mode just over the offending chord(s). Most music isn't composed modally.

------------------------------
Mainstream jazz composition also revolves around the V7 - I. Other chords can be explained as substitutions or key changes. Miles Davis got away from this, introducing "Modal Jazz", in which he and his band (including Coltrane) would just improvise in one mode. The album that introduced this was "Kind Of Blue", and is definitely worth getting, especially if you're curious about modal composition.

--------------------------

I'd like to hear from others on how the functions of the chords change in the varios modes. You know, that was actually one of the original questions I had in mind when I joined this forum!

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jasonisreal

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posted January 25, 2003 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonisreal     Edit/Delete Message
CpN' had asked :

quote:
If ( II & IV ) are predominants & ( V & VII )
are dominants & I is tonic, then what
about III & VI ?, aren't these also
considered tonics?

I'm not sure if this is the same faucet to
be looking at what he is asking, but I had
thought that they were as follows:

I. tonic
II. super tonic
III. mediant
IV. sub dominant
V. dominant
VI. sub mediant
VII. leading tone

Is this right or what ???

And ... What do I do with this info?

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dmt

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posted January 26, 2003 06:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dmt     Edit/Delete Message
jasonisreal,

Those are the functions of each chord in classical composition, and yes, that is the same topic. You can group some of the different chords together, however. You could put the I, III and VI together in one group, the II and IV in another group, and the V and VII in a third group. They are different chords with different sounds and functions, but there is some similarity in sound and/or function between the chords in each group. You could further simplify this grouping by putting the II, IV, V, and VII chords together in one big group. The relationship here is that they all take you away from the tonic sound. This leaves the listener's ear kind of mentally "hanging", expecting to get relief by the next chord coming back to that tonic sound.

The I chord completely relieves this harmonic tension, while the III and VI can also resolve the tension a bit, or keep harmonic tension from building. To some extent, you could consider them all "Tonic".

A progression with no tension tends to be unexciting. People want some tension, and occassionally they want a lot of tension. The big tension building chord is the Dominant. The song or progression never wants to end here, your ear wants the next chord to be the Tonic. Another chord that wants you to go to the Tonic is the VII, aptly named the "Leading Tone". Since these two so strongly pull you towards the Tonic, they could both be considered "Dominant".

The II and IV could be considered "pre-dominant" as they contrast pretty strongly with the Tonic (providing dominant-like harmonic motion), but they can also pull the song towards the Dominant first.

ex.: I ii V7 I; or, I IV V I

In a bigger sense, however, they can effectively generate motion away from the Tonic on their own, so you might consider the II and the IV to be (along with the V and VII) part of the Dominant group. I IV (or IV I - think "Amen"["Ah-men"] like at church) is a classic cadance all on it's own, without any V.

So, the I, II , III, IV, V, VI, VII all obviously sound and act noticeably different and deserve their own individual names. On the other hand, they can be placed into larger functional groups.

[This message has been edited by dmt (edited January 26, 2003).]

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CptAhabVonDoobageKiper

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posted January 26, 2003 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CptAhabVonDoobageKiper     Edit/Delete Message
But I think this is the question,is it not?

TPTPDTD

1234567
CDEFGAB
DEFGABC
EFGABCD
FGABCDE
GABCDEF
ABCDEFG
BCDEFGA

T = Tonic
P = Predominant
D = Dominant

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CptAhabVonDoobageKiper

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posted January 26, 2003 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CptAhabVonDoobageKiper     Edit/Delete Message
Let's just get rid of the numbers...don't really need 'em.

TPTPDTD

CDEFGAB
DEFGABC
EFGABCD
FGABCDE
GABCDEF
ABCDEFG
BCDEFGA

T = Tonic
P = Predominant
D = Dominant

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All times are PT (US)

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