The Magic Formula (Guitar Lesson)

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David Wallimann

The Magic Formula

David Wallimann teaches a magic formula that will allow you to play each of the modes up and down the entire fretboard. He also teaches some exercises to help cement this knowledge.

Taught by David Wallimann in Theory and Improvisation with David Wallimann seriesLength: 11:49Difficulty: 3.5 of 5

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

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don000don000 replied on January 19th, 2017

did he make a mistake and say B Phrygian when he actually meant B Dorian? maybe I have to rewatch this.

muim100muim100 replied on March 13th, 2018

No he didn't make any mistake. B Phrygian has the same notes of A Dorian. That's what he meant

1straieye1straieye replied on December 4th, 2016

This has been the best lesson about connecting modal playing for me. Thank you very much Wallimann !!

rarebird0rarebird0 replied on August 27th, 2016

The "magic formula" could be simplified by expressing it as a chord scale. It's confusing but after quite while of using differing resources I' coming around to getting it. Let's say instead of A we want to play a chord scale starting with open E. The next chords to play to make a major chord scale would be F#m,G#m,A,B,C#m,D#dim,E. Thus the formula would be M,m,m,M,M,m,Dim,M. The major, minor and dim(Locrian) modes as David ordered them correspond. I think he's trying to make a distinction that is like trying to tell a newbie that there is a D position from the CAGED sytem for instance, which is not a D if it's played at another fret. It confuses people at first--they say you told me that shape is a D. No it's a D shape but it's not an E if you play it two frets up. I don't have all these modes memorized but I understand the principle that makes them unique from each other. And they are Major, minor and one has the dim 5th (Locrian). I'll have it within a few weeks I think.

zarcapzarcap replied on January 17th, 2015

There are not any magic formula David, sorry.

skibidiuskibidiu replied on July 1st, 2013

Hi David! I have a question. I know that if I'm playing at any position in a minor scale and there is a minor chord in the backing track I am playing A aeolian mode of course. And if there is E minor chord in the backing track I am playing e phrygian chord and so on... But thing that is confusing me is this. Let's assume that I want to play solo for instance only in D dorian. And then the chord in the backing track is D minor. But it is obvious that there is never only one chord in backing track coz then it is really boring backing track. :D So if the next chord in the Backing track is for example E minor can I still play in D dorian or is my solo changing automatically to E phrygian? Is the mode changing always when the chord is changing? I don't believe that so there has to be some kind of explanation.

woody53woody53 replied on January 17th, 2015

Enter your comment here.

mikaelymikaely replied on June 23rd, 2013

the Phrygian and Lydian modes are in the same position, this does not make sense to me, they sound almost the same

cjv17cjv17 replied on July 4th, 2013

Hi... I had asked the same question a while ago and did not receive and answer. I don't think David Wallimann may have left Jamplay.

cjv17cjv17 replied on July 4th, 2013

Sorry... "I think he may have left Jamplay" When I play the modes, I skip over the Lydian.

bsow2012bsow2012 replied on June 16th, 2013

ive watched this video 10 times and im still lost. is he saying i can play a B phrygian over an A min backing track and it works? and if so why call them modes at all and not just shapes if each mode works over any key

muim100muim100 replied on March 13th, 2018

G ionian, A dorian, B phrygian, C lydian, D mixolydian, E aeolian, and F♯ locrian, They all work over an Am chord (not over to Am backing track necessary) because they are the same notes and scale.

rckmsnrckmsn replied on May 11th, 2013

why these are just the major scales

antl58antl58 replied on April 12th, 2013

great lesson , all your lessons really teach alot. my question is if I am playing over a G i start Ionian ( in key of G 3fret being the root do I then proceed up the neck following the Formula as taught only a whole step back ? will i then be playing in the key of G?

ryan2968ryan2968 replied on August 23rd, 2012

on the mode diagram why does Lydian have a flattened 7th?

tsteve3736tsteve3736 replied on April 28th, 2012

I Don'y Play Like My Auntie Lucy. Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian Locrian. Mneumonic to remember mode order.

csg148csg148 replied on April 24th, 2012

Thank you for this lesson!!!!! This answered alot of questions for me about the modes. I've known the modes for a long time, but have never known the reason for the modes or understood the use of the modes.

dahlmandahlman replied on March 5th, 2012

Great lesson!

amosmosesamosmoses replied on February 19th, 2012

Glad a skipped ahead to this lesson soon after the introduction of the 1st position modes. I was about to transcribe them all myself over the fret board, I probably would have come across the magic formula myself!!

playaxemanplayaxeman replied on January 9th, 2011

Hello David, Very helpful series about the modes. I have a question. I thought I heard you see "Am chord you can play A dorian or B Phrygian position/shape (not mode)" But A dorian and B Phrygian both have a F# in the scale which doesn't match with Am chord.notes in that scale. Do you avoid this note playing over Am chord? What is the difference between B phrygian mode and B phrygian position? Overall I am struggling what mode to play at what chord / chord progression. What is the best advice you can give to comprehend this issue.

alien_xalien_x replied on January 4th, 2011

... and all the confusion has finally come to an end. I was always looking for somebody wrapping it up like you did. Modes in a nutshell. I love it. Very, very helpful! Thanks a million David!

clarke1966clarke1966 replied on October 8th, 2010

This is an excellent lesson David, thanks a lot!

rohintoniranirohintonirani replied on September 30th, 2010

Hey david, is the first position A dorian or ionian that you are playing in the fretboard exercise section? you keep saying dorian but looks like ionian

silverphoenixsilverphoenix replied on September 28th, 2010

Hey David. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the "Advancing Guitarist" way of mastering the fretboard. Personally, I feel a that there is a limitation that comes with simply memorizing scale patterns, chord shapes.....; without learning the note names, the scale degrees, and how everything fits together. However, with that being said, the Advancing Guitar Method does strike me as being arduous at best. Have you used any particular approach yourself in becoming familiar with this great instrument. Thanks in advance. Matthew.

bobbobbobbob replied on July 31st, 2010

On the fretboard position exercise he meant to say A Ionian for the first scale

f3l18ipsk8ermf3l18ipsk8erm replied on September 1st, 2010

are you sure? In the sup. content it starts in A dorian

kevin4truthkevin4truth replied on August 21st, 2010

thanks Bob

kevin4truthkevin4truth replied on August 21st, 2010

Outstanding David!

T Russ BluesT Russ Blues replied on August 5th, 2010

Awesome lesson, awesome guitarist...

wayne gilbertwayne gilbert replied on August 3rd, 2010

A useful lesson, great

gaud2029gaud2029 replied on August 2nd, 2010


mike4370mike4370 replied on July 31st, 2010

great lesson david, i think this is gonna open people's eyes wide.

roy944roy944 replied on July 31st, 2010

Magical indeed!

leon126leon126 replied on July 31st, 2010

Very good lesson again Thanks!!!!

ssnowmanssnowman replied on July 30th, 2010

Very helpful!

Theory and Improvisation with David Wallimann

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

David Wallimann will cover all of the topics necessary master the art of improvisation. He will cover theory, including intervals, scales and modes as well as techniques to improve ones improvisation.

Lesson 1

Understanding Intervals

Before one can truly understand music theory the concept of intervals must be introduced. This lesson covers that topic in great depth.

Length: 27:40 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 2

Minor Pentatonic Scale

David teaches the minor pentatonic scale. He explains its scale formula, various fretboard positions, and how it can be used.

Length: 20:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Major Pentatonic Scale

David Wallimann moves on to cover the the major pentatonic scale. He teaches its scale formula, all five patterns, and gives advice on how the scale can be used.

Length: 9:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

The Blues Scale

In this lesson, David covers both the minor and major blues scales. He explains the formulas and patterns for each scale. In addition, David has included a backing track for you to play along with.

Length: 9:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Minor Modes

David Wallimann introduces three minor modes. In this lesson he covers Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian modes.

Length: 11:37 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Major Modes

David Wallimann covers three major modes in this lesson. He covers the Ionian, Lydian and Mixolydian modes.

Length: 8:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

The Locrian Mode

David Wallimann introduces the Locrian mode. He explains its formula in terms of scale degrees as well as its five fretboard patterns. A few fun arpeggio-based ideas are also demonstrated.

Length: 20:37 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

The Magic Formula

David Wallimann teaches a magic formula that will allow you to play each of the modes up and down the entire fretboard. He also teaches some exercises to help cement this knowledge.

Length: 11:49 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Classifying Modes

David Wallimann talks about how modes can be classified and thus used in a musical context. This is a valuable wrap-up lesson to the mini-series on modes.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Creating Chord Progressions

David Wallimann explains how to write diatonic chord progressions. This lesson features excellent practical music theory.

Length: 12:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Easy Outside Tricks

David Wallimann teaches a valuable fusion guitar technique that he calls "Easy Outside Tricks."

Length: 8:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Playing Modal with Pentatonic Scales

David Wallimann demonstrates how minor pentatonic scales can be used when improvising over the minor modes.

Length: 22:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Playing Modal with Major Pentatonic Scales

David Wallimann shows how the major pentatonic scale can be used in modal playing.

Length: 11:13 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About David Wallimann View Full Biography David was born in Aix-en-Provence, South France in 1977. At the age of 15, he picked up the guitar and started developing a true love for instrumental music and composition.

In 1999 he was recognized by Ibanez for his promising musical achievements and received an artist endorsement. That early recognition in David's musical career encouraged him to consecrate more time on crafting his musical art and apply to the school of modern music Artist' in Cavaillon, France. He received a full scholarship there where he graduated with honors.

In 2001, David won first place for the Tal Farlow French national jazz contest which gave him a full paid scholarship to the CMA school of modern music in Valenciennes, France. He graduated specializing in advance guitar with honors.

Following his school years, David spent the next 5 years working with several bands recording, writing and playing shows in France and Belgium. It's during that time that Wallimann was exposed to the world of progressive rock which opened new doors to his musical creativity.

Deep inside the Mind is his first release as a solo artist in which he exposes his Christian faith. The album was well received in the specialized press and was compared several times to some of Frank Zappa's approach to music adding an element of humor to deep subjects.

In 2005 he joined the internationally renown progressive band Glass Hammer based in Chattanooga, TN. He released several studio albums and live DVDs with the band.

David is today working on his next upcoming solo release and is also spending quite a bit of time teaching guitar in his studio and online at JamPlay.

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