First up thanks for sending The Mode De-coder, it’s much appreciated.
So down to business, I’m primarily a pianist and a composer, but I do play the guitar with a sufficient enough level of skill and knowledge to appreciate and approach TMDC from the view point of a guitarist. Although you’ve created TMDC for guitarists; what you’ve actually invented is a musical tool that can be used by musicians in all walks of life.
My first use of the TMDC was with the piano, using it as an improvisational aid. Without blowing my own trumpet, I would say that my knowledge of harmony and my improvisational and compositional skills are advanced. I’m able to sit at the piano and make things up on the spot, in every key under the sun and in a multitude of styles. Check out my website alanrickardmusic.co.uk for some examples of my music. Even with my experience and knowledge I still found the TMDC an excellent aid.
No matter how much you practice and how much knowledge you think you have its always good to have a reminder there in front of you. It can also shake up playing habits.eg. Say I’m playing in G# Dorian and because I’ve got TMDC in front of me, I end up using a min 9th chord were Id usually use a completely different extension in the same situation. Although I wouldn’t use TMDC all the time with the piano, it’s without doubt an excellent and interesting tool for improvisation. It gives me an approach and option I didn’t have before. Thank you.
TMDC teaches guitarists how and where to play the modes, but the wheel on the first page of TMDC could be used by any musician, on any instrument, if they already have a basic knowledge of modes.
But now to the meat and bones; the TMDC was designed to be used as an aide for guitarists and here it really shines.
I think your design and its implementation is nothing short of ingenious. Having the ability to find each individual mode so easily at the three different locations is what makes TMDC such an extraordinarily powerful musical tool.
Most people, especially beginner musicians find modes daunting and intimidating but your device should give confidence to guitarists everywhere. There is of course a small learning curve to figure out the system, but after ten minutes I was happily noodling away all over the fret board.
My only query is a matter about harmony. On the opening page you’ve put as a heading, half-diminished for the Locrian mode. All the headings on the other modes (major, minor, minor, major, major, minor) to me a least, suggest a quality based upon triads. Thus a triad built on say a B locrian scale would be b, d and f. This is of course a straight forward diminished chord and not half-diminished. The chord m7b5 which you’ve placed in the Locrian box as I’m sure you know is a half diminished chord. If what your headings suggest is an overall quality of sound and not triad based, ignore the previous paragraph.
[ Thanks for this.I hadn't thought of it in triads, but its a fair point as a lot of people work with triads I know.
I took to using m7b5 as opposed to the diminished as that was what was used in many videos I had seen and as I'm aiming this at the layman (myself!:)), I think I labeled the degrees as Major, minor, minor etc to be used as full chords, over the 6 strings rather than triads. If you play the bm7b5 notes on the chord shape on the back you get the notes of B, F,(A), D, (A), B which includes the triad notes of B,D and F, so, yes I think I am going for the overall sound with it rather than only the triads. SM ]
Once again I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to use The mode De-Coder. It should be used in schools and colleges, up and down the country to teach aspiring musicians about modes. It’s that good.
Best of luck with the product, you deserve every success with it.
All the best
Thanks to 9thaspect9 for contacting me after the Haydock show [May 2014], and taking the time to post this kind comment on YouTube.
Click here to see on YouTube
Saw this at the Northwest Guitar Show today, if you are a guitar player this will really help to unravel the world of Modes. Top product and really cheap A+
I teach guitar and know how to play all the modes.... but I've just got to have one! *Broad smile*
Wonderful wee learning tool ! Great visual for explaining stuff to students that normally seems to cause fear and confusion !
Miss (Edinburgh, UK)
Im still a working progress when it comes to modes, as it can be a difficult subject, The names of them etc, but the product helps to break things up into digestible chunks without being bombarded by too much information at the same time.
Hello, i bought one of your mode decoders at the british guitar show[November 2013], as a novice guitarist i have found it really helpful, the scales have just suddenly clicked now i have a visual aid, even my guitar teacher was impressed with the decoder. Thank you
Review from Amazon.co.uk:
5 out of 5 stars.
Colourful simplicity with a hint of genius...
Seriously... how has this not been done before?
I won a free guitar cable in a competition and enquired about the Mode De-coder at the same time as giving my details. Such a helpful chap I was given the Mode De-coder for free so I figured the least I could do was an honest review...
I have genuinely given myself headaches trying to wrap my admittedly overcooked brain around guitar modes for a what seems a very large proportion of my free time. What the Mode De-coder gives you is an instant access pass to the easy path.
I've spent hours going through some of my favourite works and finding new ways to go at them. Old songs come alive again and it just gives you the biggest smile. It's admittedly not perfect since it doesn't tune my guitar for me or make the tea... However it has accelerated my guitar skills and reduced my headaches!
When this ones finally dog eared (good quality materials so it'll take a while) I'll be buying another and I'd willingly pay five times the price! Thank you very much!
by Matt Allen
The Mode De-coder is a fantastically useful tool. The instructions are easy to follow and the design is very neat and compact - perfect to slip inside a music folder or instrument case. All that is needed is a basic understanding of chords and scales and the Mode De-coder does the rest.
It is equally useful for pianists; within minutes of using it I was improvising in all sorts of different styles and, as a music teacher, I can’t wait to use it to help inspire my pupils with their own compositions.
Finally, no more scratching my head when it comes to thinking about modes – if only I had this when I was still at university!!
Mr T Roberts
I've struggled with the modes, like a lot of guitarts have off and on for some time and this wheel pretty much solves my headache!! All you do is set it to the key you want to play in and read the notes and chords off. Can't believe anyone hasn't thought of doing it this way before now. It might be useful for guitar teachers?. There's some chord reference charts on the back which I didn't need, but I can see how they might be useful to some people. The solo guide is pretty useful too. Great product!