How to Write in 2 Modes Simultaneously • Music Theory from The Brooks "Pain & Bliss"


How to Write in 2 Modes Simultaneously


Humans are walking paradoxes! You know those times when you’re feeling two contradicting emotions at the same time? Like when you’re in a difficult situation but you feel hopeful about the future, while simultaneously doubting your own optimism. How on earth would you reflect those contradicting feelings in music?


As we cover in our Songwriting & Producing PDF, each mode conveys a general emotion. Feeling optimistic in a difficult situation would be well represented by the Dorian mode, which is the natural minor scale* with a major 6th (i.e. the cloud’s silver lining). Cancelling out that optimism with doubt would revert back to the natural minor scale, where the cloud doesn’t have a silver lining.


So you may be thinking now that it can’t be too difficult to write something using the Dorian mode then switch to the Aeolian mode. And you’re right, that’s not difficult. However, using one mode first and then moving into the other one, does not reflect the paradox of feeling both of the contradicting emotions simultaneously.


But you can’t use two modes at the same time, can you? Yes my friend, yes you can!


This is where things get juicy. Are you ready? Right, so in the title-track of their album “Pain & Bliss”, The Brooks play in both the Dorian and Aeolian modes at the same time. The guitar plays in Dorian while the bass simultaneously plays in Aeolian. It’s awesome!


So, inspired by this great song, here’s our 6-step method for writing music in two modes that will be played at the same time. But first… Tea!


*Natural minor scale is another name for the Aeolian mode.



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Lastly, are you new to music theory? Or are you experienced, but you want a refresher? Then download our FREE BOOK (link opens in new tab). It only takes 30 minutes to read, then you’ll have a solid theory foundation that you can instantly apply to your songwriting and producing. Enjoy!

Ray Harmony
Multi award-winning college lecturer