I wanted to make this series in easily digestible bites that can be eaten
with your lunch while sitting at a desk. Lunch is optional, but for todays meal
let's look at the two most easily recognizable modes, Ionian (major scale) and
Aeolian (natural minor scale).
Be it enough said that the Ionian mode is what we know as the major scale. I
assume that we have enough social conditioning to know "do re mi ..." and what
it sounds like. Think of Ionian as the "do re mi" scale. This is the root scale
from which the other scales are derived. To play in ionian mode we start to play
on the root note of the scale. If you start on a different note you are playing
in a different mode!
To visualize the intervals of ionian mode using a guitar, choose a guitar
string. For this example, I will use 2nd string B. Play notes on the string
while freting each of the following frets: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, then 13 for
the octave. This is the C ionian scale played on a single string. Notice that
the intervals are not equal. In terms of whole-note intervals (2 fret jump) and
half-note intervals (1 fret jump), notice on the guitar string that they
Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half
Playing notes of the major scale starting on the 6th note of the major scale
and ending on the octave, gives us the Aeolian mode. This scale is also known as
the Natural minor scale. It is relative to the Ionian scale that it is derived
from. If this scale is written on a clef in standard music notation, the key
signature has the same number of sharps or flats as its "relative" major key.
To visualize the intervals of aeolian mode, let's use the 2nd string B again
and play frets 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, then 13 for the octave. This time the
Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole.
I like to remember these intervals by the rhythm sound that they make
when saying them out loud.
Ionian and Aeolian Mode Compared
Check the example below of the C-major (ionian) and it's relative
C-major (ionian) scale
C D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
A-natural-minor (aeolian) scale*
- - - - - A B C
D E F G
- - - - - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
* There are two other common minor scales, harmonic and melodic minor that we
will look at later when visiting modes of the harmonic minor scales.
In lesson 3 we look at Mixolydian and Dorian. When I get around to it, I'll
be posting a convenient pdf file of the lessons on my website http://www.guitar-lessons.us