Modal Interchange: Borrowing Weird Chords | Hub Guitar

Modal Interchange: Borrowing Weird Chords

Modal interchange refers to the use of “borrowed” chords.

Consider the following scenario: our song is in C major, and contains the chords I, vi, IV, V or C, Amin, F, G. At some point, the F chord becomes an Fmin chord, borrowed from the parallel C minor. This is an example of mode mixture. However, rather than only borrowing from the parallel minor, we can also borrow from any other mode.

You may need to refer to the modal harmony chord chart. Any of the chords in this chart can be borrowed.

For example, we can use a Gmaj7 in the key of C; this will be the Vmaj7 chord borrowed from the C Lydian mode.

Many of the possibilities have already occurred between major or minor systems, so they don’t present anything “new”. For instance, in the C Dorian scale we might find I-7, or C-7. However, this chord already exists in the C minor scale, so it isn’t necessarily a meaningful or new addition to the harmony.

Modal Chords

Since we’re looking for new options, let’s remove the functions found in the major or minor scales.

Dorian Phrygian Lydian Mixolydian
IV7 ♭IImaj7 II7 I7
VI-7♭5 ♭III7 ♯IV-7♭5 III-7♭5
♭VIImaj7 V-7♭5 Vmaj7 ♭VIImaj7
♭VII-7 VII-7

Key Tasks

Write 13 chord progressions, each using one of these chords. Consider using the chord progression chart. You can substitute one of the chords from the chart with one of the substitutions above.

Note: The progressions can be in major OR in minor. Before you include any chord in the progression, spell the chord and look for common tones or interesting coincidences. Try to use the chord in some interesting or logical way, exploiting its unique characteristics to create an interesting progression.

As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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