Author Topic: Modal songs that can be used as examples  (Read 25888 times)

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Offline Nat Eleison

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Modal songs that can be used as examples
« on: September 08, 2011, 06:16:50 AM »
This is only my third post but hopefully everybody else can also get a kick out of it as well.  I'm compiling a list of songs that can be used as examples for what different modes sound like.  I'm a guitar and bass teacher and will be using it for my lessons.  It's an ongoing project but something I've been interested in for a long time.  I'm basically compiling songs that can be used for examples, not just riffs and guitar solos (which is something that's very cool and I do do but would probably work better area of study).  Any examples and comments/ideas regarding the subject are welcome though.
Here's an example of what I'm doing.  Even though I've already got some examples of the lesser used modes I can still use more.
1.) Ionian: Literally millions of options
2.) Dorian: So What (Miles Davis)
               The bass plays the melody
               Jazz
3.) Phrygian: Mr. Man (Alicia Keys)
                  Vocal Melody and Chord progression
                  Melody also uses Harmonic Minor in V chord


Offline MK_Ultra

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 02:53:27 PM »
Phrygian: Creeping Death - Metallica
Locrian: Wherever I May Roam - Metallica
Aeolian can be found anywhere
Mixolydian: Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Offline 7StringedBeast

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2011, 02:56:09 PM »
Isn't Sweet Home Alabama aeolian?
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Offline Unimatrix

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2011, 05:15:33 PM »
The last few minutes of Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield) are a good example of Mixolydian. Or how about You're the Voice by John Farnham (or Vangelis'/Anderson's State of Independence, which sounds kind of similar close to the end of the song)  :)

I like modes. Especially Dorian. I'm not a fan of Ionian, but if it HAS to be a major key, it's gotta be Mixolydian for me  :lol

Are you only looking for rock/pop songs or orchestral stuff too? There's tons of great modal compositions in soundtracks.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2011, 05:33:12 PM by Unimatrix »

Offline Unimatrix

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 06:02:54 PM »
Isn't Sweet Home Alabama aeolian?

Hm.. I don't like the song, so my guess would be G ionian. At least it sounds like a standard major key to me.  ;D

Offline MK_Ultra

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2011, 12:30:54 AM »
Wikipedia cites this as its reference, but I don't know the song well enough to be able to tell.

Offline TheCor

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2011, 01:33:10 AM »
To me Sweet Home Alabama is a I VII IV progression in D Mixolydian, of which G Ionian is a relative mode, so you could hear it as a V IV I in G Ionian.  But to me (and most people I think) D sounds like the I chord, thus the Mixolydian feel.

Offline Unimatrix

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2011, 09:17:49 AM »
Yeah, it could be D Mixolydian, it's just that it doesn't have the typical Mixolydian sound to me. Don't know why, maybe I'm confused by the vocal melody, which sometimes seems to switch between the minor and major third to D. Or maybe that's just my Dorian-loving ears, trying to find a way to turn the whole piece to D Dorian  :lol

Which would be much cooler than the original of course.  :biggrin:

Offline jsem

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2011, 12:02:27 PM »
Mixolydian:
The Beatles - Norwegian Wood

Dorian:
Dear Old Stockholm - (Miles Davis)
Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 (NOT the famous one, but it's in dorian)

Lydian:
Simpsons theme

Just a few examples....

Offline 7StringedBeast

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2011, 04:01:02 PM »
Isn't Sweet Home Alabama aeolian?

Hm.. I don't like the song, so my guess would be G ionian. At least it sounds like a standard major key to me.  ;D

Woops I meant Ionian not aeolian.
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Offline carl320

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2011, 06:55:45 AM »
Scarborough Fair - Simon and Garfunkel (Dorian)
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Offline Nat Eleison

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2011, 03:29:26 AM »
Wow!!! Thanks guys, thanks for all the responses.  There's definitely a lot of stuff here that I'll have to check out.

Offline Nat Eleison

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2011, 03:58:44 AM »
"Are you only looking for rock/pop songs or orchestral stuff too? There's tons of great modal compositions in soundtracks."

Yeah, mainly pop/rock melodies with chord progressions that relate to the mode of the melody but I'm pretty much open to stuff like soundtracks as well as there's heaps of great examples from there as well (I've transcribed some themes from movies ages ago and have to find where I put them :-\).  I've still got to do a lot of homework as I'm planning to work out the melodies of some of the bands I listen most to (but only ever get around to working out the guitar parts of bass parts to) like Dream Theater or Fates Warning etc. 

An interesting thing though is that some songs will have chord progressions that will belong to one particular mode but the melody won't have any of the cool notes that spell out what mode that is and if you took out the chords accompanying it it could be anything.  E.g.  "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" the chord progression for the verse is |Em |G |D | A||, a very popular progression that is E Dorian due to the C# in the A chord but the melody doesn't use the C# at all.  And then there is "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction which uses the chord progression |G |A || in the verse and then |G |G#11 ||, so it's G Lydian but the melody actually uses a natural 4th in the melody, so it's an Ionian melody over a Lydian chord progression (it still works as a song though).

I guess that sometimes the worst thing you can do as a composer is to try confine your ideas to one thing, like saying, "I will only write a song using the Lydian scale and won't divert from it even if it would sound better if I did" so I can understand the danger in becoming to wound up with theory but then again this project is all about theory.  But it can also work to a composer's advantage, e.g. Joe Satriani and then some composers just write more in a particular scale.  The guitarist in my band, who doesn't really know anything about modes tends to write a lot using the Lydian scale just because he hears it in all the prog music he listens to.

Mr. Man is, for me a perfect example of using the Phrygian mode in the melody and chord progression as it blatantly uses the b2 in the melody and the chord progression.  I've got to do some research on Spanish melodies though, everyone always says that the phygian mode sounds Spanish but whenever I say that to my students I never really have an example of a Spanish song, just heaps of Metallica and Slayer riffs LOL.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 05:46:49 AM by Nat Eleison »

Offline SPNKr

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2011, 11:24:26 PM »
Smaller And Smaller by Faith No More
 - I believe it's in Phrygian Major (aka Spanish Gypsy). Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Offline Nat Eleison

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2011, 10:01:21 AM »
Smaller And Smaller by Faith No More
 - I believe it's in Phrygian Major (aka Spanish Gypsy). Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

I'll have to check that one out.

Here's a list of what I've got so far.  Basically I'm trying to compile songs that don't deviate from the mode but it's gonna happen anyway in so many cases.  Generally so many songs go between the relative major and minor e.g. Verse in Major (Ionian), Chorus in Relative minor (Aeolian), plus there's modulations, key changes etc.  Like I said in a previous post "I guess that sometimes the worst thing you can do as a composer is to try confine your ideas to one thing..."

There are also heaps of other melodies that I'm playing day in and day out that will be either Major or Minor but don't use those special notes that define them as a particular mode.  Some of the songs in the list below I have checked out (both the melody and chords) and some of them I still haven't but these look like pretty good examples of melodies in specific modes that I can transcribe.  Obviously this list will be expanding.

Ionian:
1.)   Let It Be – The Beatles
2.)   Goodbye to Romance – Ozzy Osbourne
*Although they’re not exactly the most “chirpy” examples
3.)   Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring – J.S. Bach
4.)   Always With Me, Always With You – Joe Satriani
5.)   Ode To Joy – Beethoven
Dorian:
1.)   So What – Miles Davis
2.)   Dear Old Stockholm - Miles Davis
3.)   Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 – J.S. Bach
4.)   Scarborough Fair - Simon and Garfunkel
5.)   Surfing With The Alien – Joe Satriani
Phrygian:
1.)   Mr. Man – Alicia Keys
2.)   White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
3.)   Dr. Who Theme
Lydian:
1.)   Simpsons Theme (this may be Lydian Dominant but I’ll have to check)
2.)   Flying In A Blue Dream – Joe Satriani
3.)   Together Alone – Crowded House
4.)   Oceans – Pearl Jam
5.)   E.T. Theme – John Williams
6.)   Here Comes My Girl - Tom Petty
7.)   When We Dance – When We Dance
8.)   Hog Heaven – Frank Zappa
Mixolydian:
1.)   Norwegian Wood – The Beatles
2.)   The Trees – Rush
3.)   Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Aeolian:
1.)   Black Orpheus – Luiz Bonfa
2.)   I Kissed A Girl – Katy Perry
3.)   Crazy Train (Chorus, Verse is in Relative Major [Ionian]) – Ozzy Osbourne
4.)   Blue Bossa – Kenny Dorham (also modulates up a semi-tone to Ionian scale)
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 10:26:46 AM by Nat Eleison »

Offline Nat Eleison

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Re: Modal songs that can be used as examples
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2011, 08:34:37 PM »
Found a new one for the Dorian scale:

A Horse with no name - America

Only two chords in the whole song (Em |F#m7 add4||) for both the verse and chorus and it's a poplular song most people would know.