5 Modal Progressions You MUST Know

5 Modal Progressions You MUST Know

Looking to jump-start your rhythm guitar playing? Check out these lessons from Robbie Calvo’s 30 Modal Progressions You MUST Know, in which Robbie shares how to play rhythm guitar parts for 30 contemporary modal progressions across a variety of styles, tempos and tonal centers.

Plus, there’s more progressions where these came from as well in the full course. Let’s get started expanding your rhythm guitar arsenal!

Modal Progression #1: Ionian – Push It

Download the tab & notation for this modal progression.

“Push It” is our first modal progression in the key of E, consisting of two chords: the I chord and the II minor chord. The chords specifically are E – Esus4 – F#min7(add4). The tonal center of this progression (where the resolution occurs between the chords) is E.

There are some nuances to make this progression more interesting: using the Esus chord to add flavor and movement, pushing into the F#min(add4) chord on the fourth beat, and using a nice little sixteenth note riff as a turnaround to the beginning of the two bar phrase. Let’s take a listen and learn this little gem. Once you have it down try soloing over it using the E major scale.

Modal Progression #9: Dorian – Wrecking Ball

Download the tab & notation for this modal progression.

“Wrecking Ball” is a rocky little dance groove in the key of D. However, the tonal center is the II chord, Emi9. The chords that make up this E Dorian progression are as follows: Emi9 – Emi7 – D/E – G – A. If we break that down into Roman numerals (scale positions), you have a II – I – IV -V progression.

The minor 9 chord may be a tricky one to transpose due to the open strings used for the specific voicing, but it’s worth giving it a shot if you’re looking to understand transposition using the Roman numeral method.

Modal Progression #11: Phrygian – The Moments

Download the tab & notation for this modal progression.

This progression for “The Moments” resolves nicely to the III minor chord (Cmi), with the chords being Cmi – Eb/Ab – Ab/Db. If we were to analyze the progression for transposition purposes, you would have a III – V/I – I/IV in the key of Ab. Try playing through the progression and then shift the chords into another key.

Modal Progression #17: Lydian – Purple Dawn

Download the tab & notation for this modal progression.

“Purple Dawn” is a haunting little number in the key of D. However, the tonal center is G Lydian. The chords I used to compose this progression are G5/2 – A/G – C#mi7(b5), which in Roman numerals is a IV – V/IV – VII progression. After you’ve got it down, try transposing this G Lydian progression into another key.

Modal Progression #25: Aeolian – In a Trance

Download the tab & notation for this modal progression.

“In a Trance” is a dance groove with lots of ambience and mood behind it. The chords are Bmi7(b13) – Emi6, which is a VI – II progression.

I’m arpeggiating the main chords so that the notes ring together and sustain over each 2 bar phrase. I added a rock guitar overdub to give the track some energy and punch. Solos can utilize the B Aeolian mode (D major scale), B minor pentatonic, and E minor pentatonic over this track.

Dig these modal progressions? Download Robbie Calvo’s 30 Modal Progressions You MUST Know for much more including tab, notation, and jam tracks!