Monday, October 2, 2023
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Home Tutorials Music Production MUSIC THEORY FOR PRODUCERS - MODES - PART 4


In the previous lesson, we were learning how to apply our knowledge about modes to create solos and improvisations. The idea is to practice in the simplest way possible, and then add more elements so that we can build a good solo.

As we’ve seen before, there are a few basic approaches when soloing:

1) Soloing over the song key;

2) Soloing using only chord notes;

3) Applying a different scale for each chord;

4) Applying a different scale + chord notes for each chord.

The first two methods have been covered in the previous lesson. Today we will learn methods 3 and 4. Here’s the chord sequence:

The third approach will consider a different scale for each chord. That will give us more tools to build an interesting solo. So, what scale should be used on each chord?

First consider that ‘scale’ in this approach refers to major and minor scales, as well as modes. Also, consider that we might have more than one option of scales for a given chord (which is great).

The first chord is Dm7. Since it is a minor chord, we could create the solo by using some modes: Dorian, Aeolian and Phrygian. Also, remember that Aeolian is the natural minor scale. Here are the scales:

Since the chord sequence is in C Major key, probably you will prefer to use the Dorian scale, although it won’t be totally wrong to use Aeolian or Phrygian scales.

The next chord is G7. Since it is a dominant 7th chord, we could use the Mixolydian mode to solo. Remember, a Mixolydian mode is also a type of major scale, and it differs from the major scale by its minor 7th degree. Here’s the G Mixolydian scale:

The last chord is Cmaj7. For this one we can use the Major scale (aka Ionian mode), as below:

Finally, the fourth approach will consider both the scale and also chord notes to build a solo. The idea is to emphasize chord notes and use scale notes as options to create variation.

Here’s an example of a solo using the fourth approach:

Notice how chord notes appear on beats 1 and 3 of each bar (remember, beats 1 and 3 are the strongest in a 4/4 bar). The result is that the solo will sound focused and solid.

That’s it! Keep practicing and try to build your own solos.

Happy productions!

Pianist, keyboardist and music producer.

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