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Modes

Dave Ratcliffe (289) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Intermediate · Tempo: 90
Pages: 1 2 3

C D E F G A B C D E F G A

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 --- C Major

These are one and a half octaves of "White Notes"---no #'s or b's. The numbers are the tonic degrees of the C Major scale.

At school, this was taught as "doh, re, me, fah, soh, la, te, doh". The horror is that some youngsters nowadays have missed it! Ask an older relative, or listen to the "Sound Of Music" song, "Doh, a deer, a female deer..."

C to C above is the C Major scale. What happens if you start on the sixth note (degree)? You play A to A, The scale of A minor.

C Major
A Minor


Major and minor, the Natural Minor that is, are also modes:

Major = Ionian --- C to C

Minor = Aeolian--- A to A

The long names are 3,000 year old Greek tribes and have always turned people off. In the past, peasants were always presented with barriers when they tried to learn anything "learned". As you learn them, always say the White Note root, like this:

C Ionian: C D E F G A B C

D Dorian: D E F G A B C D

E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E

F Lydian: F G A B C D E F

G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G

A Aeolian: A B C D E F G A

B Locrian: B C D E F G A B

How do they sound?

D Dorian
E Phrygian
F Lydian
G Mixolydian


B Locrian


All these modes are the same set of white notes. The only difference is the start/finish root.

Like chords, scales remain the same anywhere on the fretboard; only the pitch changes.

This means, a mode shape--including Major and Nat Minor--can start on any root and retain its property i.e. Major stays Major, Minor stays minor, Mix stays Mix etc.