Author name: Sion

The next ‘Now and Then’! – ‘Across the River’ full song from Lennon demo using AI and The Mode Decoder

Giles Martin and Peter Jackson gave us Now and Then from the Dakota demos, and now I give you Across the River from the same recordings. In an alternate universe John Lennon took the Across the River demo to Abbey Road and made it into a full Beatles song. Now, with the help of The Mode Decoder and Google Colab AI, you can hear Across the River in its entirety as a full studio version! The Mode Decoder gave me the tools to play along and solo in the ‘Let it Be’ style and AI changed my vocals to sound just like Lennon and McCartney.

The next ‘Now and Then’! – ‘Across the River’ full song from Lennon demo using AI and The Mode Decoder Read More »

See how PINK FLOYD could have saved a lot of ‘TIME’ using the Mode Decoder to choose their chords

My tutorial cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’ (Dark Side of the Moon) showing how setting the Mode Decoder to the song’s key (F sharp minor) displays all the chords and notes of the song like magic. From the front I highlight each chord as it’s played. On the back I show the fingering of each chord and where to play it on the fretboard. On the inside I show where the solo locations are for playing the minor pentatonic scale in F sharp minor and also how to quickly change soloing position as the song changes key to B minor!

In the past, Pink Floyd didn’t have a Mode Decoder back when they wrote Time, but I hope you can see how they could easily have used the menu of chords it shows to create it! You’ll see how you can easily do the same and use the Mode Decoder to write your own songs… in the future!

See how PINK FLOYD could have saved a lot of ‘TIME’ using the Mode Decoder to choose their chords Read More »

Unlocking Guitar Proficiency: How The Mode Decoder saved me at this record-breaking event!

In this video, I share the incredibly rewarding journey of joining a record-breaking gathering of 600 guitarists at the iconic St George’s Hall in Liverpool. With only a week to learn three songs for the Florrie’s ‘Big Guitar In’ event, I relied on the Mode Decoder to transform my playing experience.

What’s Inside: –

  • Breaking down the three songs we tackled.
  • Exploring the Mode Decoder’s role in enhancing my playing without relying on chord sheets.
  • Sharing insights on how understanding chord relationships can unlock your guitar proficiency.
  • Short Event highlights and a glimpse of the fantastic atmosphere at the ‘Big Guitar In.’

Watch as I showcase how the Mode Decoder helped me play instinctively and enjoy the event to the fullest! If you’ve ever wanted to break free from chord sheets and elevate your playing, this video is for you. Support the Cause: This event was organized by ‘The Florrie,’ a fantastic local charity in Liverpool. They’re doing incredible work in the community, and I encourage you to contribute to their fundraiser. Every donation makes a difference! https://www.theflorrie.org/support-us

Unlocking Guitar Proficiency: How The Mode Decoder saved me at this record-breaking event! Read More »

Amazon Question – ‘How is this different from a chord wheel?’

I thought it was worth blogging my answer to this question asked on ‘Customer Questions & Answers’ on my Amazon product page:

Question: How is this different from a chord wheel?

The short answer:

Think of The Mode Decoder as a chord book and solo guide all rolled into one – with extras!

For all diatonic keys and their modes (all 84), the Mode Decoder shows visually:

1. The main major and minor chords plus the half diminished chord
2. Additional chord variations (with ‘easy bar chord’ diagrams on reverse.)
3. Chords are in sequence I ii iii IV V vii viii
4. Solo with the minor pentatonic and minor scale in any key/mode
5. Focus on modal character / target notes both for chords and solo
6. Transpose keys easily or transpose a song between modes – make a sad song happy!

The long answer:

There’s so much more to the Mode Decoder than a regular chord wheel. Because it is a visual system, you don’t need to learn any theory or do any working out to be able to see which chords go together and you don’t need to learn all the modal scales either – just use the regular minor pentatonic scale (and optionally the full minor scale) for all keys and modes.

Chords

The Mode Decoder will show you not only what chords are major and minor (and half diminished), but also a handful of variations for each . For example, as well as C major, you can see that Cmaj7; C6; Csus2; Csus4 and a C5th powerchord are all playable in the Key of C major (there are simple bar chord diagrams for all these chords on the back page). Simply use one of these alternative chords in place of the main chord to instantly sound more jazzy or to add colour and light and shade to your playing and composing. Additionally, these chords are colour coded so you can see instantly which ones go best with each mode you are in e.g. if playing or composing in Mixolydian, try choosing the chords marked with a blue dot first.

Soloing

On the inside, The Mode Decoder will show you which frets to start the minor pentatonic and minor scale pattern so that all the notes are within your chosen key or mode. There are 3 places the minor pentatonic scale will fit and a further possible 3 past the 12th fret for all diatonic keys and modes of these keys (That’s 84 scales). So you can easily solo up and down the guitar neck in up to 6 places in any key or mode using only the minor pentatonic (and optionally, the minor scale).

Transposing:

Unlike a normal chord wheel which is usually based on the circle of fifths diagram, The Mode Decoder is set out in a logical sequence from I ii iii IV V vii viii . This makes transposing easy by just counting. If you have a song in C major with the structure I IV V (C F G), you will see C in the first window, F in the fourth window and G in the fifth window. To transpose this from a major (aka Ionian) progression to be a C Dorian progression for example, just turn the Mode Decoder so ‘C’ is in the Dorian window and then count 1,4,5 to reveal the new chord progression (cm F gm). Great fun for changing the sound of well known songs! You can also easily transpose songs in the traditional way eg to transpose the above to F, just put ‘F’ in the window that C was in (The Ionian) and count 1,4,5 again (F Bb C). Because it is sequenced in a line from 1-7, this also works very well with Nashville Numbers.

Background

I created the Mode Decoder for myself and out of necessity because I didn’t and still don’t have much time to play. I was frustrated that all that time was mostly taken up trying to learn a particular song or scale. Then, once I had learned something, I had to remember it and by then I probably felt like learning something else! My skill level was and is quite low – I can play a handful of chord shapes, cowboy style and bar chord style plus the minor pentatonic scale. Because my job is being a graphic designer, I had the skills to design this product and get it printed and constructed – so that’s what I did 3 years ago. Since then I have been selling on Amazon and taking it to guitar shows around the UK. The response has been fantastic and many have fed back to me with feedback such as “It was a game-changer for me’ and “A light went on and I could suddenly play along to any track”

The Mode Decoder is a compact, but a very powerful way to ‘see’ music and is useful as an aid for writing and analysing songs and for enabling you be able to to solo to most songs without hours of learning scales or music theory! Eventually, you won’t need to even find the key – just find where the pattern fits! Its a must-have because it remains useful whatever skill level you achieve.

Amazon Question – ‘How is this different from a chord wheel?’ Read More »

Albatross by Fleetwood Mac tutorial

I have to admit – I’m not very good at playing my guitar. However I do enjoy playing immensely and so after many attempts at following systems and tutorials have created my own system which allows me essentially to turn on the radio and play along with whatever is playing. Watch how I apply it to Albatross by Fleetwood Mac. Hopefully it will help you to do the same!

Albatross by Fleetwood Mac tutorial Read More »

A really useful guitar wheel for anyone who hates guitar theory!

I’ve struggled with the modes, like a lot of guitarists 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!

CJP

A really useful guitar wheel for anyone who hates guitar theory! Read More »

Amazon Question – ‘How is this different from a chord wheel?’

I thought it was worth blogging my answer to this question asked on ‘Customer Questions & Answers’ on my Amazon product page:

Question: How is this different from a chord wheel?

The short answer:

Think of The Mode Decoder as a chord book and solo guide all rolled into one – with extras!

For all diatonic keys and their modes (all 84), the Mode Decoder shows visually:

1. The main major and minor chords plus the half diminished chord
2. Additional chord variations (with ‘easy bar chord’ diagrams on reverse.)
3. Chords are in sequence I ii iii IV V vii viii
4. Solo with the minor pentatonic and minor scale in any key/mode
5. Focus on modal character / target notes both for chords and solo
6. Transpose keys easily or transpose a song between modes – make a sad song happy!

The long answer:

There’s so much more to the Mode Decoder than a regular chord wheel. Because it is a visual system, you don’t need to learn any theory or do any working out to be able to see which chords go together and you don’t need to learn all the modal scales either – just use the regular minor pentatonic scale (and optionally the full minor scale) for all keys and modes.

Chords

The Mode Decoder will show you not only what chords are major and minor (and half diminished), but also a handful of variations for each . For example, as well as C major, you can see that Cmaj7; C6; Csus2; Csus4 and a C5th powerchord are all playable in the Key of C major (there are simple bar chord diagrams for all these chords on the back page). Simply use one of these alternative chords in place of the main chord to instantly sound more jazzy or to add colour and light and shade to your playing and composing. Additionally, these chords are colour coded so you can see instantly which ones go best with each mode you are in e.g. if playing or composing in Mixolydian, try choosing the chords marked with a blue dot first.

Soloing

On the inside, The Mode Decoder will show you which frets to start the minor pentatonic and minor scale pattern so that all the notes are within your chosen key or mode. There are 3 places the minor pentatonic scale will fit and a further possible 3 past the 12th fret for all diatonic keys and modes of these keys (That’s 84 scales). So you can easily solo up and down the guitar neck in up to 6 places in any key or mode using only the minor pentatonic (and optionally, the minor scale).

Transposing:

Unlike a normal chord wheel which is usually based on the circle of fifths diagram, The Mode Decoder is set out in a logical sequence from I ii iii IV V vii viii . This makes transposing easy by just counting. If you have a song in C major with the structure I IV V (C F G), you will see C in the first window, F in the fourth window and G in the fifth window. To transpose this from a major (aka Ionian) progression to be a C Dorian progression for example, just turn the Mode Decoder so ‘C’ is in the Dorian window and then count 1,4,5 to reveal the new chord progression (cm F gm). Great fun for changing the sound of well known songs! You can also easily transpose songs in the traditional way eg to transpose the above to F, just put ‘F’ in the window that C was in (The Ionian) and count 1,4,5 again (F Bb C). Because it is sequenced in a line from 1-7, this also works very well with Nashville Numbers.

Background

I created the Mode Decoder for myself and out of necessity because I didn’t and still don’t have much time to play. I was frustrated that all that time was mostly taken up trying to learn a particular song or scale. Then, once I had learned something, I had to remember it and by then I probably felt like learning something else! My skill level was and is quite low – I can play a handful of chord shapes, cowboy style and bar chord style plus the minor pentatonic scale. Because my job is being a graphic designer, I had the skills to design this product and get it printed and constructed – so that’s what I did 3 years ago. Since then I have been selling on Amazon and taking it to guitar shows around the UK. The response has been fantastic and many have fed back to me with feedback such as “It was a game-changer for me’ and “A light went on and I could suddenly play along to any track”

The Mode Decoder is a compact, but a very powerful way to ‘see’ music and is useful as an aid for writing and analysing songs and for enabling you be able to to solo to most songs without hours of learning scales or music theory! Eventually, you won’t need to even find the key – just find where the pattern fits! Its a must-have because it remains useful whatever skill level you achieve.

Amazon Question – ‘How is this different from a chord wheel?’ Read More »

Understand and play ‘Here There and Everywhere by The Beatles.

Here, there and everywhere from the album ‘Revolver’ by The Beatles.

A showcase of the theory behind this beautiful Beatles song using The Mode Decoder in an easy to understand tutorial. Because once you see the structure, its easy to play!

It demonstrates the move between the two keys of G Major and g minor and also shows how chords may be ‘borrowed’ and a clever trick with a secondary dominant chord.

The intro chords are all in the key of G major except for the chord Bb major. I show how Paul McCartney mixes up the modes here by temporarily switching from G major to g minor to add in a Bb major. You can see how this works by simply moving the ‘G’ from the Ionian window to the Aeolian window. Bb major is ‘borrowed’ from the g minor key.

G  bm [ Bb ] am C7

Secondary dominant trick:
Moving completely into the g minor key for the bridge a very clever device is used by ending on a C7 chord. This is clever because it is part of the G major scale, in fact the dominant 7th chord wants to resolve to a G. The C7 is also a secondary dominant 7th chord for the g minor key too, so its an excellent common chord to pivot around.

This song also unusually used chords from eb=very one of the 7 notes of the G major scale including the much avoided m7b5!

Understand and play ‘Here There and Everywhere by The Beatles. Read More »

The Chain, Fleetwood Mac. How The Mode Decoder can help

I recently uploaded a cover of ‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac, and Andrew made a very reasonable comment that it would be more useful for me to demonstrate how I used the Mode Decoder to do this.

It also allows me to show you how to pick out the melody (mainly from locations 2 and 3 on your guitar neck).

—————

The first step is to find out the key the song is written. You can do this in 3 ways

    Ask Google! Often you can find out the key a song is played in by Googling the name of the song + ‘key’. This works best for more famous songs.
    Find the chords used in the song from a guitar tab website and then turn the Mode Decoder until the chords match. If there are only a few chords, this could be more than one match, so you’ll need to test each one
    If you have been using the Mode Decoder for a while, you can probably find where the pattern fits in by ear.

The first part of the song I go through is the beginning picked chord. On the tabs I have seen, this looks like an unusual fingering and rather complicated picking, so I use the notes in location 3 to make a simpler version. All I’m doing is barring at the 7th fret and pressing the third string down, 2 frets further up. The notes then just fall into place – plus you can embellish them!

The second part shows how I pick up the melody (and how you can apply this technique to any song) in locations 2 and 3.

Thirdly I show how the ‘Formula 1’ phrase and famous, simple solo fit into location 1 and 3.

Great fun!

Here’s the original cover I’m responding to:

The Chain, Fleetwood Mac. How The Mode Decoder can help Read More »

Will improve both ear and playing skills

This gets beginner guitar players “tuning in” to recordings and will improve both ear and playing skills. If the player takes the trouble to learn the fretboard and the other 4 main Pentatonic “shapes” then so much the better.

By Alan via Amazon feedback

Will improve both ear and playing skills Read More »

Finally a way to learn modes that makes sense!

To set up my review, I’ve been playing guitar for nearly 40 years. I play everything from classical to light rock to hard rock to heavy metal. (You can find my stuff on youtube under JohnLogsdonMusic, if you’re interested). Anyway, I learned most everything I know by ear and studying up on tablature. Over that time I obviously picked up what all the notes are, many of the chords (though not all), and numerous scales. However, I couldn’t tell you what mode I’m playing in at any given time. I’ve learned how to find my way on the neck, but I don’t know WHY I’m playing where I’m playing on the neck … other than it sounds right. Well, I received the Mode De-coder today and I spent the last hour watching the youtube videos and messing about with the little wheel and all the diagrams. I put down a quick backing track that played 8 bars of C, then 8 of D#, then 8 of B, and finally 8 of E. I found that I was jumping in and trying different modes, hearing nuances I’ve *played* before but now was understanding what I was doing! It was pretty awesome. Next I started looking at the chord structures and found myself playing all sorts of things I’d never played before. Honestly, I’m just blown away. There are time when any artist gets stuck trying to come up with new song ideas and being caged into only knowing a handful of ways to piece things together doesn’t help. I just came up with three new rhythms using this tool that are way different than I’m used to, and that’s sparked some fresh creativity! All I can say is bravo! I tried many a different product over the years and found them to be confusing at best and frustrating at worst. This is the first time in all my years of playing that I’m starting to understand the modes. I know I still have some studying to do, but this is great stuff. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

John P. Logsdon

Finally a way to learn modes that makes sense! Read More »

…  you have freed my soul and helped me to improvise

Thank you VERY MUCH. . .I am learning the lead to this song. . . i followed a lesson with tab and played at a very slow pace and i have managed to play the first solo off by heart EVEN with my eyes closed. . .HOWEVER the second solo is so long and when broke down into small sections i was loosing the feel for the lead. . . So i decided i should really learn the scales. . Yes it was back to basics. . .i leaned the minor one very easily and your video was exactly what i was looking for to play it up and down the guitar as i was loosing the will to live following the tab. .. It was like writers block or something similar  . .  you have freed my soul and helped me to improvise . . i am off to practice. . .Thanks again. . .

Gus from Glasgow

…  you have freed my soul and helped me to improvise Read More »

Tutorial – solo guitar to a song which is in two modes – Bob Dylan’s Don’t think twice its alright

Do you know what is unusual about Bob Dylan’s song ‘Don’t think twice, its alright’? I analyze the chords and modes and show how the Mode Decoder can easily help you to expand your soloing ability. Knowledge is power! NB I’m using a James Tyler Variax set to Acoustic guitar.

The Chords of this song are

C G Am F

C G Am D

So the song is mostly in C major (C Ionian). The only problem is that D major is not part of the C Major scale – the correct chord is Dm. However all this does is place this part of the song into G majoe (G Ionian).

For soloing, this gives us an opportunity to expand our soloing by adding a note not available to the rest of he. We can see which note this is by changing the Mode Decoder from C major to G major and back again. From this we can see that the 5th fret and 12th fret are common – so we can solo with the minor pentatonic in both modes. However, using the 2 additional notes which, when added to the minor pentatonic, make the minor scale, we can see that because the 5th fret is firstly in location 1 and then in location 2, the position of these 2 notes change as the mode changes – ie when the D major is played.

Practically then we can see that this means that there is a new note available to play on the 5th string only when the D major is played.

Listen to the recorded version on Soundcloud below:

Tutorial – solo guitar to a song which is in two modes – Bob Dylan’s Don’t think twice its alright Read More »

Outstanding – you won’t regret buying it

Since others have written so eloquently and accurately about the quality of this item, I will merely say that having just received this, everything they say is correct. It’s a quality item that allows you to use a simple wheel mechanism to identify which style will suit what chord and it’s progression. On the inside there’s information on Location 1, 2 and 3 and the seven styles available, e.g. Ionian through to Lorian. On the back page there’s the chord reference chart. No space is wasted. It’s also a quality glossy paper and should last a while.

In addition, when you receive the item further material to help is also provided. For example, the mode de-coder is also on YouTube. It was watching this that made me decide to buy. Having talked through the benefits of the item, Sion Wyn Morris, the creator, then begins to play and it’s then that you see the guy’s love of music and the guitar shine through. I like people like that. I also like that people like that are willing to share their expertise and help make one’s own guitar development easier.

It’s a good price, a quality product and will help your development. Recommended.

by Urbanmeister

Outstanding – you won’t regret buying it Read More »

Fatboy Slim’s Praise You – How to change the mode from G Mixolydian into E Phrygian

This tutorial shows how The Mode Decoder helps me bypas modal theory  but be able to change the mode of ‘Praise You’ by Fatboy Slim from its original G Mixolydian mode to E Phrygian mode by carefully selecting from the palette of chords displayed.

Since the melody contains notes of the G Mixolydian scale (GABCDEF) by moving the root note emphasis away from G and onto E, the whole character of the song can be changed from a happy bluesy character to a Spanish / Egyptian sounding one!

Fatboy Slim’s Praise You – How to change the mode from G Mixolydian into E Phrygian Read More »

Fantastic Sir!… This is a completely superior level

Fantastic Sir ! I got the Kirk Lorange slide rule from Australia in the 1980s and have used it ever since. This is a completely superior level (I have ordered one). Us ‘teach ourself’ types have spent years barking up the wrong or the same trees. I taught myself bass over years and focussed on scales and had no idea about modes or pentatonics! I even written and recorded many songs and played in many bands but it would have been nice to know this and something about chord progressions for jazz and funk and whatever. I did kart racing in the 1980s and it was like a secret society – no one would share any set up info and all before the Internet so I reckon it was same with music. Thx vm from Poole, England 🙂 🙂

Hugh Davison

Fantastic Sir!… This is a completely superior level Read More »

Hey Joe Re-engineered with new chords

Further to my earlier posting about the modulating modes of Jimi Hendrix Hey Joe, here is a re-working of the chord structure of the song. Its an interesting chord progression as the first half of the progression is in E Aeolian and the second half is in Fsharp Aeolian. They share a D Major chord which allows the progression to pivot around this chord.

Hey Joe chords are:

C G D A E

E aeolian part:

C G D

F sharp Aeolian part:

D A E

So to mess about with this, using The Mode Decoder ®, I have created a chord progression modulating between E Aeolian and B Aeolian (which pivots around the chord Bm instead – like this:

First 3 chords – E Aeolian

C G Bm

Last 3 chords – B Aeolian (which shares the Bm chord – and pivoting on it instead of the D as in the original)

Bm Fsharp min A

To solo to this, solo with our old friend ‘minor pentatonic position 1’ on frets 12, 5 and 7 (as you would for for E Aeolian) but end the phrase on a Db note!

Finished progression:

C G Bm Fsharp min A

Setting The Mode Decoder ® to E Aeolian:

Setting The Mode Decoder ® to B Aeolian:

Hey Joe Re-engineered with new chords Read More »

The design and its implementation is nothing short of ingenious.

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. 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.

Alan

The design and its implementation is nothing short of ingenious. Read More »

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

Colourful simplicity with a hint of genius Read More »

All that is needed is a basic understanding of chords and scales and the Mode De-coder does the rest

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!!

T Roberts

All that is needed is a basic understanding of chords and scales and the Mode De-coder does the rest Read More »

Re-engineering Hey Joe – video

Here is a re-working of the chord structure of Hey Joe, made famous by Jimi Hendrix. Its an interesting chord progression as the first half of the progression is in E Aeolian and the second half is in F# Aeolian. They share a D Major chord which allows the progression to pivot around this chord. At the end of the analysis is the studio version I use in the demo.

Hey Joe chords are:

C G D A E

E aeolian part:

C G D

F sharp Aeolian part:

D A E

So to mess about with this, using The Mode Decoder, I have created a chord progression modulating between E Aeolian and B Aeolian (which pivots around the chord Bm instead – like this:

First 3 chords – E Aeolian

C G Bm

Last 3 chords – B Aeolian (which shares the Bm chord – and pivoting on it instead of the D as in the original)

Bm F#min A

To solo to this, solo with our old friend ‘minor pentatonic position 1’ on frets 12, 5 and 7 (as you would for for E Aeolian) but end the phrase on a Db note!

Finished progression:

C G Bm F#min A

Re-engineering Hey Joe – video Read More »

Decoding Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones (E Mixolydian)

Stmpathy for the Devil is a fairly straightforward song using mainly 3 chords.

We start on E major, which is our root note.

This means that, as E is major, the song could be in either the Ionian, Lydian or Mixolydian mode.

The next 2 chords are D major and A major with a Bminor in one section. This makes the song Mixolydian.

The structure is:

I – VII – IV  with a V section

E – D – A             Bm

On the front of the Mode Decoder ® you can see a palette of 31 chords Mick Jagger could have used to write the song. Its good fun to use them to create your own sections – a middle 8 that never was!

We could use the mode Decoder to do this simply by picking different nimbers 1-7 e.g.

VI – II – I

Reading from the choices on the Mode Decode ®, these could be 

Csharp min7 – F sharp SUS4 – E

Though you could also have

Csharp SUS4 – Fsharp Min9 – E11

…and then back to the song.

To jam along to it look for the 3 neck locations on the Mode Decoder® – These are

Location 1 – F sharp – 2nd and 14th fret

Location 2 – B – 7th and 19th fret

Location 3 – C sharp – 9th and 21st fret (thought the 21st probably won’t be useable)

Decoding Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones (E Mixolydian) Read More »

Jam Night – and modal analysis – Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix

A recording from Sion and Colin’s Jam Night. We are doing Hey Joe as Col has just bought a beautiful 60th anniversary Fender Strat – which means playing a lot more Jimi Hendrix!

About Hey Joe’s modulating modes

Hey Joe is an Interesting composition as it doesn’t remain in one mode or key, instead it modulates between overlapping closely related modes during the repeated chord progression:

The first 3 chords C G D are VI VII III  in E minor while G D A are also VI VII III  but in B minor and D A E are also VI VII III but in Fsharp minor. These modes are closely related because they are a fifth apart and the progression goes from one to the other via common chords (first GD is common, then DA is common – the movement pivots around the D major chord which is common to all).

The progression happens so fast over the chord changes though, that its most sensible to just take E minor as the first half and Fsharp minor as the second part.  For soloing take the tonal centre to be E minor at the start – so here I’m soloing over this progression in minor pentatonic on frets 12, 5 & 7. As the modes are closely related, this works well over the second half too as almost all the notes are common – and you can easily use your ear to select the best and worst. However you can use the Mode Decoder to see that its also possible to solo minor pentatonic over the overlapping parts in F sharp minor when these are played. Practically, all this would mean moving up 2 frets during the second part of the progression. The frets to solo minor pentatonic for F sharp minor are 14(and 2), 7 and 9. This movement give you acces to the two notes which are not in the E Aeolian mode but are in the F sharp Aeolian scale – Ab and Db.

By moving up like this and looking at all the notes of the Aeolian scale we can see that the note on the 13th fret of the G string is now available -Ab (and also 16th fret on the Estring)[click here for a backing track]. Bending up to the Ab from the G on the top e string is also a good way to get to the Ab note (bend 15th fret E string up). The Db is nice to play just before the Ab ar the end of the phrase. Db is on the 14th fret of the b string. Note however how these notes sound terrible when played during the first 3 chords though – this is because during these chords we are back in E Aeoian.

The great thing about the Mode Decoder is that you don’t need to learn the names of the notes – just where they are in relation to the minor pentatonic shape! I had to look up the names of the notes Ab and Db on a fretboard guide for this explanation once I’d found them with the Mode Decoder!

Another interesting thing you can do to hear the modulation between modes is to play an E minor in place of the start chord C. Eminor is in the E Aeolian mode of course, and E major is in the A Aeolian mode, so moving from the last chord E major to the first chord E minor highlights the change – normally you couldn’t play amajor followed by a minor of the same root note.

In this recording I’m just playing E minor pentatonic though as we just launched into it!  I used the The Mode Decoder ® to work out the Ab and Db notes afterwards!

E Aeolian:

B Aeolian

Fsharp Aeolian

Jam Night – and modal analysis – Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix Read More »

Feedback from The Northern Guitar Show at Haydock – May 2014

Well, the day started off with a slight hiccup as I thought we’d arrived without our wristband passes, despite having checked they were in the box many times! But they were found right at the bottom thankfully though.

Once up and running we were in a nice spot upostairs in Hall 4. Big thanks to Gail and Peter, the organisers, who made it very easy – binbags, electrical sockets and table with paper tablecloth included.

Noise levels were a lot better than in other shows – didn’t have to turn things up too much to demo but plenty of guitary background ambience. We were near the ‘cigar box’ guitar stands which can be loud but weren’t this time!

It was great to interact with all levels of guitarist at the show and find that the Decoder has something for everyone. This was my 4th show with the Mode Decoder and me and my jam buddy (and stand manner) Colin really enjoyed chatting about, and demoing the Mode Decoder to everyone we met. The response was overwhelmingly friendly and sales were very good as usual. Better than sales though was finding out that the word is slowly starting to get around.. Several people came by to let us know how useful they found it and we saw many new people and witnessed the ‘lightbulb’ moment during the demoing. The feedback was very brilliant again – very positive and encouraging.

Unlike previous shows, I think I have now relaxed quite a bit as the anxiousness that no one would ‘get’ or ‘like’ the Mode Decoder has well and truly vanished!

Comments were along the lines of

  • “That’s a really clever way to show information”
  • “I like it!”
  • *heads nodding*
  • *smiles*

I usually might ask if someone played guitar – which was probably a fairly safe bet since we were at a guitar show! But the answer was often ‘a bit’ or “I strum a little’ or ‘so-so’, which was good for me as being no great guitarist myself, I was able to show how it was possible for someone like me (and them) with little knowledge, to use the decoder to play along to pretty much any music.

Specific comments I remembered were:

A customer who hadn’t bought from me in Birmingham, but had spoken with me about it there but whose friend had bought one. They both came to the stand with a group of some friends and I was so pleased that having seen his friend write a song with his, now thought it was wonderful I smiled broadley as he said to the group “This guy is a genius!” and then explained the whole idea to them. Very satisfying indeed. I think its fair to say that many musicians have had this experience with the device and it is wonderful to think you can cut through the theory and still play great guitar!.

Another customer was an experienced guitar teacher who said that yes, he knew how to play the modes – no problem…then he paused and with a big smile said “But I’ve just got to have one!!”

By far the most suitable person to have one that sunday was Kevin, who was currently learning the modes with his guitar teacher and had been tasked to write a modal solo. He said that this woul help him to see how the modes worked and he was going to use it to write the solo … but not tell the teacher just yet and see if he could amaze him with his new ability!

Had some nice comments about my Fender Marauder too – still love it and am quite pleased that it has been discontinued!

Sadly as I arrived home I found we had to call out an emergency electrician and the days profits were wiped out!!

Never mind! – See you next show. 🙂

Sion.

Feedback from The Northern Guitar Show at Haydock – May 2014 Read More »

Transposing Modes – Guns ‘n’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine from Db Mixolydian to Db Aolian mode

Demonstrating the ability to transpose one song from one mode into another with The Mode Decoder®. The original song is in Db mixolydian and has been transposed to Db Aolian. Bit of a rough take, but you get the idea.

Normally this is a very complicated thing to do as chords and solo notes need to be worked out with traditional music theory – but its no sweat with The Mode Decoder® – just read off the chords and notes.

If you’re wondering, the change means that the penultimate note of the familiar refrain is down a half step from F to E and the Db chord is changed to a Db minor and the Fsharp changes to Fsharp minor – but you don’t need to work any of that out – the Mode De-coder will just make it obvious!

To play the original song, Slash simply detuned his guitar down a half step to Eb and played the familiar D, C and G chords.

As a side-note, The Mode Decoder® allows you to play along with songs recorded down a half step in Eb without having to detune your guitar.

Transposing Modes – Guns ‘n’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine from Db Mixolydian to Db Aolian mode Read More »