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Watch the Wait, Modal Mother What? online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Modal Mother Lode Alpha

Modal Mother Lode | Alpha kicks things off with a unique look into eight essential modes that share a common bond - a major 3rd. Starting with the mother of all modes - Ionian AKA the major scale - you'll dig into Mixolydian, Lydian, Lydian Dominant, Lydian Augmented, Ionian #5, Harmonic Major and Phrygian Dominant. What makes this course so unique is my time-tested multi-faceted approach to modal study, which is rooted in parallel comparison and propelled by application.

This course includes eight weeks of involved melodic and harmonic playing choices that serve as a guide to making informed comparisons of the mode's sound against each other. Each mode will be presented through a scale fingering concept I call one octave cells and its extenders. I will hip you to each one in the weekly introduction video where I will also provide an attached horizontal scale grid-based chart that clearly displays the cell and its extenders. In the same video, I will also turn you on to the mode's degree formula, its inherent sounds and what main ingredients contribute to that sound. Once you have the one octave cell and its extenders under your fingers it will be time for you to go in deep and play.

Each week you'll have three style-based applications to choose from. You'll have a rock lick, a funk vamp, and a 12-bar blues solo to investigate these modal sounds with. Play one, play two, play them all! Everything you'll play will make use of a parallel root C. Once you come out of the proverbial shed record a video submission I can inspect and respond to. Once you get through Ionian - the mother of all modes - everything presented thereafter will be based off those same three ideas...

...this is about where that record scratch sound comes in.

That's right: Everything you'll play is based off the same three ideas. Same lick, same vamp, same 12-bar solo. Think of these three style-based ideas as "templates" based off the same root, just within different modal environments. That's what parallel comparison is all about and that's how you truly get the most accurate picture as to what a mode (or any scale for that matter) is all about. If you're thinking there's no way harmonic major can pass for a blues soloing vehicle - just wait! This method worked wonders for every aspect of how I deal with modes and now it's time for it to work for you!

More on the styles and approach...


You'll start off with a rock lick that does the job right. Overflowing with attitude by way of clever usage of legato and bending you'll get a great first impression of the mode's sound via the one octave cell and its extenders and how it feels to play it. This lick will be modally morphed verbatim in the following modes throughout all three courses. Be sure to pay close attention to the scale degree talk in the Breakdown & Analysis videos. Also watch for the mode-specific chord from my own personal trick bag of voicings designed to further drive home the mode's identity with something just plain cool at the close of each passage.


Next up will be a shift to harmonic playing within 16 bars of funky goodness. Now, it's no secret the funk is my jam. Part of what makes it so delicious to my ears is quartal harmony (pronounced "chordal" by me sometimes - sorry!), which is a harmonic device that relies on stacked intervals of a 4th. These three-note chords or "stacks" will be comprised of perfect 4ths, combinations of both perfect and augmented 4ths - even instances of diminished 4ths at times! Along with the stacks you'll have a chance to explore other adjacent string, three-note chords born of these modal environments. Every chord's purpose is to harmonize the underlying target note melodies, which will be called via scale degree designations. Every vamp is based off a common syncopated 16th-note feel that grooves and stays in play throughout the three courses. All the harmony supporting the target note melody ideas are once again built from the one octave cell and its extenders you will learn about in each mode's corresponding Introduction video. Just like the rock lick, you'll have a modal voicing at the close to geek on for added modal madness.


Once more making use of the one octave cell and its extenders you'll com up on a 12-bar blues solo constructed from the mode at hand. There will be solos that will follow a horizontal approach (one melodic device for all three changes) as well as vertical approach (an applied melodic device for each chord change) all identified by scale degree designation. If you're thinking there's no way harmonic major can pass for a blues soloing vehicle - just wait! It's all about phrasing, feel, and really hearing what the mode has to offer and learning how to best harness what you have at your disposal.