The CAGED System Antidote Part 4

why the caged system sucks

In Part 3 we started to look at making the modes a little more usable within the confines of the CAGED system. In this part we’re going to continue along the same lines but remember we’re looking at things diatonically by taking different triads from the C major scale and using them as a springboard into the modes. This allows us to locate the best notes to use to a) sound like we know what we’re doing and b) bring out the sound of the mode instead of the generic CAGED sound you get by running up and down the scale patterns.

Let’s take a look at the Mixolydian modes (in the key of C). Here’s how the modes break down in the key of C:

C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian, B Locrian.

For C Ionian (the major scale) we took a C major triad and added in the CAGED notes. We did the same for F Lydian but paying special attention to the #4 and the 7, which are the notes that give the Lydian mode its characteristic sound. We also looked at A Aeolian from the point of view of A minor triads.

To get into G Mixolydian we first need a few G Major Triads:

Next we’re going to add in the b7 which, in my opinion, is what gives the Mixolydian mode its characteristically bright major sound. Again, pay special attention to the b7 but allow the other CAGED notes to appear around the triad and bring them in. Remember to avoid running up and down the scale pattern; instead, refer back to the triad pattern and the b7 when creating lines.
As we’re in the key of C (but using G as a root), the C pattern is the CAGED pattern that should appear around the triad. This is not an ideal situation as when you’re playing in G you want to be thinking G, not C. This is one of the main flaws of the CAGED system but it helps to see the C major scale CAGED pattern (or any major scale pattern) as a generic template which will appear around the triad you’re playing. In a later part we’ll look at how to avoid this kind of thinking and get straight to what you want to play.

Practice coming up with lines over the following very cool backing track. It’ll feel clunky at first but if you stick at it you should get some nice melodic stuff going.

In Part 5 we’ll start looking at the minor modes.

Go to: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5

About Graham Tippett 301 Articles
Compulsive guitar blogger and writer of many innovative guitar books.

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