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Tutor Kei_S 's Column

モード・ジャズとは?What is

Aug 6, 2019

English text follows the Japanese text.


Have you ever asked yourself “What is mode”? Many practicing musicians have. The most of my students have.

People say, “The notes in C major scale and in what’s called “Ionian” scale are the same. Why different names?”
“The notes in C major scale and in what musicians often call “D dorian” are the same. D dorian is exactly C major scale only starting from the 2nd note. I know what C major scale is and people play C major scale from any note of the scale. Then why you don’t call it a major scale but you call it “Dorian”?

Today, we have so many different kinds of music. When I started playing music, there were already Weather Report, Chick Corea Elekctic Band and Scott Henderson’s Tribal Tech. But, think about it. What if in our contemporary, the most popular music was Chopin? Or, Bach?

The development of western music is also the history of harmonic confinement. In each era, harmonic development opened up little by little its possibility and has reached the point where there are so many harmonic possibilities available as we enjoy them listening and playing today.

Before Miles Davis pulled out the famous “Kind of Blue” album, jazz harmony was almost confined to three (or four) notes of the chord. This evolutionary and historic album has broken the chain. If you always needed to go back to one of the basic three notes of the chord when playing or writing melodies, that would sound for us like very restricted. Instead, if you can use all the 8 notes of the scale or even, all the 12 notes of music freely, that will just make so many things possible.

Actually, “you can use all 12 notes of music” has a bit of catch. Compared to former styles of music, you can say that in mode jazz, you can almost treat 8 notes equally or use 12 notes with some intellectual efforts. However, there are cases where you need to give priorities to each degree of the scale and choose in between them.  But I wouldn’t say it’s a negative constraint. I will explain why it’s a positive constraint in my lessons!

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