Not every musical situation will need the same approach.
Sure, you can use modes over any chord. But, there are some musical situations where modes might not be the best approach.
In this bass lesson, I’ll give you an effective guide for when it is best to play modes on the bass.
Here is a basic guide for when it’s best to use modes
In some chord progressions, the chords move fast.
When chords are moving every 2 beats, there is not enough time to communicate a mode. Playing modes may not be the most efficient approach for harmonic clarity.
The reason is that the chords are simply not lasting long enough to fully appreciate the mode that is being played for each chord.
Instead, approach notes, arpeggios, or guide tones might better. By focusing in on the chord tones you’ll get harmonic clarity.
For modes, what works well are chords that are lasting for a measure or longer.
When chords last for a longer duration, you have time to experience a mode that is being played.
How to practice going in and out of modes
If you have device that can play chord progressions you can practice going in and out of modes.
- Start with a simple chord progression that lasts for 4 measures.
- For the first 2 measures, make the chord progression be a single chord.
- For the last 2 measures, make the chord change every 2 beats.
- Solo with a modal approach for the first two measures.
- When you get to the last 2 measures, use the an approach note method.
- To take this a step further, you can imply chord changes for the first 2 measures, by switching approaches. And in the last 2 measures, you can simplify the chord changes with a single mode.
Modes are fun in that you can think of only one thing and play that. But, there will be times in the music where harmonic clarity is necessary. Approach notes will be the most direct way.
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Scales and modes are a foundation for knowing what notes to play over a chord. Check out this book on Amazon: Mel Bay’s Encyclopedia of Scales & Modes for Electric Bass