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Theory 03: Modes

Carlos Eduardo Seo (900) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3

In my last theory lesson, we studied the diatonic scales. Now, from the major scale, we'll derive the Modes. Actually, the major scale itself is a mode called "Ionian Mode". First thing to do is to know the major scales and their notes:

Scale

I Degree

II (IX) Degree

III Degree

IV (XI) Degree

V Degree

VI (XIII) Degree

VII Degree

I (Octave) Degree

A

A

B

C#

D

E

F#

G#

A

A# / Bb

A#

C

D

D#

F

G

A

A#

B

B

C#

D#

E

F#

G#

A#

B

C

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

C

C# / Db

C#

D#

F

F#

G#

A#

C

C#

D

D

E

F#

G

A

B

C#

D

D# / Eb

D#

F

G

G#

A#

C

D

D#

E

E

F#

G#

A

B

C#

D#

E

F

F

G

A

A#

C

D

E

F

F# / Gb

F#

G#

A#

B

C#

D#

F

F#

G

G

A

B

C

D

E

F#

G

G# / Ab

G#

A#

C

C#

D#

F

G

G#

Mode

Ionian

Dorian

Phrygian

Lydian

Mixolydian

Aeolian

Locrian

Ionian



The interpretation of this table is quite simple:

- Choose a line (a key). I'll choose the 4th line as an example. If you look at the table, you'll see the C major scale notes (C D E F G A B C).
- The columns represent the root note of that particular sequence of notes. If we look at the second column (I degree), we'll see the root note is C and then we have the C Major scale (Ionian Mode): C D E F G A B C. Now, if you look at the third column (II degree), you'll see the root note is D and you have this scale: D E F G A B C D, which is the D Dorian mode. In other words, the II degree of C Major is D Dorian.
- If you do the same thing for the next columns, you'll have E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian (the natural minor scale, of course, as you studied in the last lesson) and B Locrian.

Now, the interesting thing: remember when I said to write down and memorize all the patterns for the major scales? So... if the notes of these seven modes are exactly the same as the ones in a major scale, that means you can use the same patterns to play all the modes. Just change the root note!