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Modes of Limitless Inspiration - Part 1    Page 1 2 3 4
a Stickschrift for Emmett Chapman about his "Offset Modal System" by Sean Malone

Offset Modal System: The Triple-Wheel™ Chart

The inner Wheel of the triple-Wheel chart represents the seven pitches of the major scale and their attending modes; those adjacent to one another are half steps and the others are whole steps. The yellow lines connect pitches related by the interval of a fourth (or a fifth, by inversion). Tracing through these connections is akin navigating the circle of fifths, revealing the kinds of chord progressions found in jazz standards, or for that matter, the bulk of Western tonal music. For example, starting in the quadrant marked "Dm13", you can trace a line to "G7", and then to "C"; this is the archetypical ii – V – I turnaround. It is important to note here that C major is being used only as an example – the entire chart can be transposed to any key. Now, look at the inner Wheel again, but this time as a geometric pattern. There is a single quadrant on a symmetrical axis: the Dm13 quadrant has the same arrangement of half steps and whole steps in either direction around the wheel, or as Emmett has said, it is "the most 'balanced' mode on this inner Wheel." This simple gesture, switching from "thinking notes" to "seeing patterns", generates a sense of infinite inspiration. The next time you play your Stick, try to envision the grid beneath your fingers in the same way you have just been shown the "inner Wheel"; I’ll bet you’re already sizing up the possibilities...

The next installment of this article will describe the two remaining wheels, as well as the other "charts" of the OMS.

©2007 by Sean Malone, used with permission.
Triple-Wheel is a trademark of Emmett Chapman

coming soon, Part 2
Sean Malone is a performer and composer, and has recorded and performed with notable musicians such as Bill Bruford, Mike Portnoy, Steve Hackett, and Paul Gilbert. Sean has written four books published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, ranging in topics from music theory to transcriptions of performances by Jaco Pastorius. His website is www.seanmalone.net