Guitar Lesson 14: Understanding the modes – TITU’s mini-modal module – a) mixolydian and b) dorian.

Brad Paisley Performs At The Abbotsford Centre


After looking at the scales and the notes of the scales in detail, I wanted to return to look at how modes are constructed and the feel that they give when used well. I also wanted to develop my understanding of the mixolydian mode, as I still find the quick chord changes in a lot of country music a challenge to play over and want to increase my ability to do so. This in turn will hopefully benefit my improvisation over other styles and genre of music and will be useful for further developing my

PART 1 – The first of a four-part lesson of modes. Lesson 14a includes an introduction and rationale, followed by a focus on the mixolydian mode, including some hints and applications and some playing by Dan and myself over backing tracks.

Understanding modes and using the mixolydian in Blues and Country:

PART 2 – In Lesson 14b we look at another very commonly used mode – the dorian mode.  As the rationale and use of this mode is slightly more accessible than the mixolydian we tend to get stuck straight into improvising over relevant backing tracks this time round.

Using the dorian mode with some tips for how to be effective:

Em Dorian with A#

Useful YouTube videos for further studies:

Our philosophy:

As a result of some feedback we decided to break our lessons up into two parts, releasing part 1 each fortnight and part 2 the following weekend. Hopefully, this will make the length of the lessons a bit more digestible and bite-size. This may mean that there are references in each part to the other, but we will try to ensure that our lessons have two sections.  As always get in touch to let us know your preferences, suggestions and feedback.

We love direct engagement and to show our appreciation you may get a mention: What lessons do you want us to cover? What would you like us to do? How would you like us to develop TITU?

Our podcast and blog has organically grown and we appreciate all feedback, follows, likes and suggestions. It is meant to be used as a way of introducing some ideas and themes which are useful to be aware of as you develop your practice on your guitar. Hopefully, you’ll find them useful in the audio format which we release them in as this way you can listen while doing another task and then use the suggestions we raise in each episode to do some extra research and to inform your own practise. It is our hope that you find this a useful listening exercise, to support the development of your musical ear. It is good to think that you, our listeners, are not immediately looking for tabs, but rather using your ear to find the notes yourself. This is important to develop your feel, phrasing and dynamics.

The way I myself find these lessons useful is to study in great depth what Dan introduces me too, including guidance on who or what to listen to, and I feel lucky that I can return to each lesson and not forget all his excellent advice as was the case prior to the recording of our lessons. I also find studying my own mistakes hugely valuable, I hope you do too.

We plan to continue producing posts for each podcast episode, linking in some guitar lesson videos from online tutors and guitar covers from players out there. I hope that you will find our lessons and blog useful and that we help you to see the big picture. I certainly think that I could have organised my own practice to be more effective earlier in my own learning and if this had been the case, then I would have developed my skills more quickly and easily. For further ideas about this we encourage you to spend some time looking at my article on guitar practice, apps and software and then dedicate some time NOW into learning to recognise intervals, rhythms and chords by ear. This will hugely fast-track your learning.

I hope you enjoy this lesson as much as I did and that you keep listening. If you want to support us further, then like us on Facebook, follow us on SoundCloud, Twitter or Google+ and subscribe, rate and review on iTunes to help us conquer the Apple algorithms. You can also follow my online magazine: Lessons and Gear for Guitar Geeks and Fanatics.

Good luck on your musical journey!

Gary and Dan.


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