Exploring the Music Modes with Software: SLModes

The idea of the music modes was not something that was too hard for me to grasp much due to the thoughtful teachings of Joe Satriani and the iconic website Guitar Shred Show.

I understood the possibilities of the modes and explored their atmospheres in my music. I also quickly found out that one of the things that resonated with me a lot was chord progressions with two chords, which allowed me to jump back and forth between two modes.

Then I started to expand my way of thinking about the modes. What if I dropped the notion of jumping between two modes just because they are in the same key but instead started to jump between modes because they have notes in common?

And why should I restrict myself to the modes of the major scale when I also have the mode of the melodic minor and the harmonic minor scale available? With just 3 scales I end up with 21 different modes:

  • Major Scale
    • Ionian
    • Dorian
    • Phrygian
    • Lydian
    • Mixolydian
    • Aeolian
    • Locrian
  • Melodic Minor
    • Melodic Minor
    • Dorian b2
    • Lydian Augmented
    • Lydian Dominant
    • Mixolydian b6
    • Locrian #2
    • Altered
  • Harmonic Minor
    • Harmonic Minor
    • Locrian 6
    • Ionian #5
    • Dorian #4
    • Phrygian Major
    • Lydian #2
    • Ultralocrian

Mastering his approach would certainly infuse new exciting possibilities into my music so for a long time I wished there was some kind of tool that would help me with that process.

That tool didn’t exist – at least to my knowledge – so I decided to create it myself.

It is called SLModes and it gives instantaneous feedback on our certain mode sounds.

It shows and plays chords that belong to the selected mode and it also generates a list of matching modes based on how many notes they have in common

I use this approach in one of my songs – The Richest Man in Babylon – in which the bass and guitar were constantly playing the same two root notes over and over again while on top of them I kept changing between modes which were not in the same scale but had those two root notes in common. This is what Joe Satriani calls the Pitch Axis Theory and this software helps you explore that concept.

So overall I have been quite happy with the software and the functionality has brought me and I have been using it successfully in my own music.

I believe the time has come to release it to the public and so if you are interested in getting your copy check out SinewaveLab.com.

Thank you very much and see you soon.

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