Intro To Modes

October 15 to December 8, 2018

Work directly with Trey Gunn on a weekly basis in this 8-week group course

We will break down one of the basic building blocks of music — the modes — into digestible parts, both sonically and theoretically, so you can use them with ease.

For all instrumentalists and singers. 

This course will:

  • Help you to immediately find your ground in a piece of music

  • Give you flexibility when improvising

  • Give you greater color choices when developing your own compositions

  • Help you grasp command of the core material of music

  • Give you a long-term pathway to hear deeper into the relationships of the notes

This course is designed to work for all players:

  • Beginning players

    • We'll start with the basics

  • Intermediate players

    • Hone the fundamentals in your hearing for improved playing and writing

  • Advanced players

    • Find the gaps in your melodic hearing

    • Apply practices to close the gaps and take your playing further

Learn to play confidently while capturing the unique quality of each mode in your improvisations and compositions. This ease only comes from the deep exploration based on how you hear, in your own particular way. This course breaks down that exploration into its core essence, step-by-step.


When most musicians play by thinking in modes, or scales, they tend towards using all the tones equally and without their full meaning. This results in bland musical lines. Lines that come across like white light where, instead, there could be gorgeous color.

How a painter uses color is a useful analogy for working with the modes. Any musical idea can be tinted with one of the modes. The idea remains essentially the same; but the color of the music changes based on which mode you are using.

This course is designed to establish these “modal” differences in your ear so you can use them as you need to, much as a painter pulls from his or her palette of colors.

Learning about modes isn't about the information. The information is easy. Learning this material, the way I think we should, is about getting to know each tone intimately within its context -- the mode's center of gravity, or tonal center.

This course will use a progression of practices to develop our sense of each note and how that note fits into its mode. Known as 'functional hearing', in contrast to 'intervallic hearing', this work proves much more vital when improvising.

This is an oversimplification; but based on many years of practice, study and playing I have honed an approach to go directly into the sounds.

First, we learn the sounds. The information can come afterward, simply to help us organize.

This course is part of my work in aiding musicians and artists to speak from their own, original voice.

This will be an email type of correspondence course with info/practices being presented each week. All of us will be discussing and digesting the material together via a Google Group. There is no real-time participation, so any time-zone or personal schedule will fit with our work together.

NOTE > We will not be using standard music notation in this course. So, please feel included even if you don't consider yourself a "reader".

The course will adapt to the people participating and how things develop as we go along. But the general curriculum will be based on the following progression:

Week 1
General Concepts of Modes
Language And Method For The Course
Root, Fifth, Octave (+ listening/singing)

Week 2
Thirds (+ listening puzzles)

Week 3
Sevenths (+ extra singing)

Week 4
Sixths (+ playing)

Week 5
Seconds (+ composing)

Week 6
Fourths (+ audiation/memorization)

Week 7
Full Modes (+ pentatonics/hexatonics)

Week 8
Locrian/Pathway to Exotics (+wrap-up)

Cost is $299

"Intro to Modes" 8-week course with Trey Gunn

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