Modes - Part 1For simplicity's sake, we have restricted ourselves to modes that use the notes in C major scale. remember, there are 11 other major keys, and each is the "parent" to seven related modes.
Sooner or later the serious student of the guitar develops an interest in improvisation. This most stimulating activity need not, be confined to Jazz Improvisation, but can be practiced on all styles the student is able to appreciate and comprehend.Country/Rock, Blues, Metal, Jazz, all provide ample room for improvisation.
In ancient Greece the modes were the strong pylons upon which the Greeks built their musical bridges. They are certainly not recent inventions. As long ago as the 4th century B.C. Pythagoras and the Greek thinkers had derived a system which almost corresponds with the series of white keys on the present- day piano. It is not,therefore, surprising to find these ancient Greek modes gradually being recognized as important facets in our musical language. There is an undoubted fascination with these magical scales and one simply must be determined to work and be alert to the sounds they create and above all be patient.
How the modes work:
If we were looking at a piano keyboard we would notice that without the black keys there are 8 octaves of the C major scale. If you run your finger left to right along the white keys you will be playing , the scale of C major even though you happen to start on a note other than C. This musical fact is the essence of the modes. A scale can be played from any of it's notes to any other of it's without moving into another key. Actually if you were to play the scale of C major from F to F an octave higher you would be playing a nodal scale based on the key of C and the scale would be called F Lydian.
In each major scale there are seven modes because the major scale have seven different notes, if we were working with a pentatonic scale (containg five notes) we would have five modes to work with; one for each degree.
Learn the following table -
Play a major scale from note 1 to note 1 above = IONIAN MODE
Play a major scale from note 2 to note 2 above = DORIAN MODE
Play a major scale from note 3 to note 3 above = PHRYGIAN MODE
Play a major scale from note 4 to note 4 above = LYDIAN MODE
Play a major scale from note 5 to note 5 above = MIXO-LYDIAN MODE
Play a major scale from note 6 to note 6 above = AEOLIAN MODE
Play a major scale from note 7 to note 7 above = LOCRIAN MODE
Play a major scale from note 8 to note 8 above = note 1 to 1
All examles above are shown in the key of C major however the advancing guitarist should practice the modes in every key. The same formula works for each key:
note 1 to 1 always = IONIAN
note 2 to 2 always = DORIAN
note 3 to 3 always = PHRYGIAN
note 4 to 4 always = LYDIAN
note 5 to 5 always = MIXO-LYDIAN
note 6 to 6 always = AEOLIAN
note 7 to 7 always = LOCRIAN
note 8 to 8 always = note 1 to 1
Each modes unique sequence of intervals creates a mode's unique musical "quality" or flavor.
The following descriptions are "intuitive" and are meant to serve only as a general guide to the modes' individual differences, resulting from their unique intervallic makeup.
Description The Ionian Mode is the scale you get when you play one octave up from the first note of a major scale. This mode has the same step-pattern as the major scale, which means, C Ionian is also the C major scale. This mode has a naturally occurring dominant fifth chord, which indicates the fifth note G (in C Ionian) can be used as a dominant chord; i.e. G7. This pure and happy sounding mode can be heard in nursery rhymes such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I'm a Little Tea Pot.
Quality Happy, Merry, Upbeat, Cheerful
Music Styles Rock, Country, Jazz, Fusion, Folk Songs, Nursery Rhymes
Tonic Chords Unaltered major chords; i.e. C, C6, Cmaj7, Cmaj9, C6/9, Cadd9, Cmaj13
Improvising Try the C Ionian over this chord progression: C, F, G7, C
Description The Dorian Mode is the scale you get when you play one octave up from the second note of a major scale. D Dorian starts on the second note of the C major scale. Dorian is a minor sounding mode, which, is commonly used in Jazz, Blues and Irish folk songs. This mode can be heard in the folk song Scarborough Fair and the timeless classic Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. The Dorian Mode differs from the major scale because it has a flat 3rd (b3) and a flat 7th note (b7).
Quality Jazzy, Soulful, Sophisticated
Music Styles Jazz, Blues, Fusion, Rock
Tonic Chords Unaltered minor chords; i.e. Dm, Dm6, Dm7, Dm7sus4, Dm9, Dm11, Dm13
Improvising Try the D Dorian over this chord progression: Dm7, Fmaj7, Cmaj7, Em7 .
Look for the second part of this article where we will continue our description of the modes.
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About The Author: Mike Hayes is a guitar teacher, author, performing musician and session guitarist with over 30 years of professional experience. Find out more about how to learn guitar fast with his popular free ecourse, available at: => http://www.GuitarCoaching.com