The Architecture of Music

Modes

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

The Relationship Between Chords and Modes

The main use of modes in the book and the most important concept about modes to understand is their relationship with chords. When the individual modes of the Suspended Pentatonic scale are analyzed, their linear circle of fifths diagrams describe exactly which chords can be played with them (below). In a key, modes describe exactly which chords can be played with each note as the bass note in a root position or root inversion chord. For each mode, any root position, 1st and 2nd inversion can be played in combination with any add variation while still remaining within the limits of the key and scale being played. This is an invaluable tool, as it gives us the options to work with when playing within a scale and allows us to explore chords we might not normally use.

If you look at the 2nd mode, no root position chords can be played with that mode because it has no P5th note. The 5th mode is the exact opposite and no 2nd inversions can be played with it as it has no P4th note. All scales (with the exception of the chromatic scale) have modes that are theoretical “ends” where either no root position or 2nd inversion chords can be played with them. This is why it is so important to learn and use chord inversions as it gives us the ability to use every note in a scale as the bass note in a chord. In more complex scales with an isolated note around the COF, only 1st inversions can be used to play the isolated note as the bass note in a chord, at least as far as root position and root inversion chords are concerned.

 

The Relationship Between Chords and Modes