Modes

author: fleh date: 09/16/2008 category: scales
rating: 7.2 / votes: 17 
I decided to write this lesson when I realised that I know about modes. All modes are are shapes that let you learn the differnt places on the fretboard that you can play the same scale. This lesson focuses on modes of the major scale although the theory behind them is more or less the same. I will be using the Gmaj scale as an example which contains the notes: G A B C D E F# You will probably know this scale as this:
e|---|---|-5-|---|-7-|-8-|
B|---|---|-5-|---|-7-|-8-|
G|---|-4-|-5-|---|-7-|---|
D|---|-4-|-5-|---|-7-|---|
A|-3-|---|-5-|---|-7-|---|
E|-3-|---|-5-|---|-7-|---|
This is what is most comonly thought of as the Gmaj scale but it is in fact just the first mode of it - the Ionian mode. The modes are named. I - Ionian II - Dorian III - Phrygian IV - Lydian V - Mixolydian VI - Aeolian VII - Locrian There are seven of them (one for each note in the scale) and yes they do have stange names as they are named after Greek islands (or something Grreek). Each mode is simply the same notes as rest of the scale but with a different starting point. Their numbers I to VII correstpond to the notes they start from G to F#. If you want to think of it in terms of steps I have seen it shown like this before which I found quite helpful.
Ionian________W W H W W W 
Dorian__________W H W W W H  
Phrygian__________H W W W H W
Lydian______________W W W H W W 
Mixolydian____________W W H W W H
Aeolian_________________W H W W H W
Locrian___________________H W W H W W
If you don't understand that don't worry its not essential it just helps to visualise it. The other modes of the Gmaj scale look like this: A Dorian
e|---|---|-7-|-8-|---|10-|
B|---|---|-7-|-8-|---|10-|
G|-5-|---|-7-|---|-9-|---|
D|-5-|---|-7-|---|-9-|---|
A|-5-|---|-7-|---|-9-|---|
E|-5-|---|-7-|-8-|---|---|
B Phrygian
e|---|-8-|---|10-|---|12-|
B|---|-8-|---|10-|---|12-|
G|-7-|---|-9-|---|11-|---|
D|-7-|---|-9-|10-|---|---|
A|-7-|---|-9-|10-|---|---|
E|-7-|-8-|---|10-|---|---|
C Lydian
e|---|---|10-|---|12-|---|14-|
B|---|---|10-|---|12-|13-|
G|---|-9-|---|11-|12-|---|
D|---|-9-|10-|---|12-|---|
A|---|-9-|10-|---|12-|---|
E|-8-|---|10-|---|12-|---|
D Mixolydian
e|---|---|12-|---|14-|15-|
B|---|---|12-|13-|---|15-|
G|---|11-|12-|---|14-|---|
D|10-|---|12-|---|14-|---|
A|10-|---|12-|---|14-|---|
E|10-|---|12-|---|14-|---|
E Aeolian
e|---|---|14-|15-|---|17-|
B|---|13-|---|15-|---|17-|
G|12-|---|14-|---|16-|---|
D|12-|---|14-|---|16-|---|
A|12-|---|14-|15-|---|---|
E|12-|---|14-|15-|---|---|
F# Locrian
e|---|15-|---|17-|---|19-|
B|---|15-|---|17-|---|19-|
G|14-|---|16-|17-|---|---|
D|14-|---|16-|17-|---|---|
A|14-|15-|---|17-|---|---|
E|14-|15-|---|17-|---|---|
Combining these modes will show you all the places on the fretboard you can hit notesand keep within a certain key. After the Locrain mode it simply goes back to Ionian as it is an octave and before the Ionian it is the Locrian. So the notes in the Gmaj scale would be:
e|---|-2-|-3-|---|-5-|---|-7-|-8-|---|10-|---|12-|---|14-|15-|---|17-|---|19-|
B|-1-|---|-3-|---|-5-|---|-7-|-8-|---|10-|---|12-|14-|---|15-|---|17-|---|19-|
G|---|-2-|---|-4-|-5-|---|-7-|---|-9-|---|11-|12-|---|14-|---|16-|17-|---|19-|
D|---|-2-|---|-4-|-5-|---|-7-|---|-9-|10-|---|12-|---|14-|---|16-|17-|---|19-|
A|---|-2-|-3-|---|-5-|---|-7-|---|-9-|10-|---|12-|---|14-|15-|---|17-|---|19-|
E|---|-2-|-3-|---|-5-|---|-7-|-8-|---|10-|---|12-|---|14-|15-|---|17-|---|19-|
Well there you go - all modes do is effectively split that up into 'boxes'. These are the modes of the Gmaj scale but with other scales the 'shape' of each mode remains the same, only the fret numbers change. For example lets say we want to find the Phrygian mode that fits into the D#maj scale. We know that the Phrgyian mode is the 3rd mode so it will start on the 3rd note in the D#maj scale. If you don't know what this is an easy way to find out is play the Ionian mode starting at D# and find the 3rd note. This is G. So you play the shape of the Phrygian mode satrting at G on the low E string. This would look like this: G Phrygian
e|---|-4-|---|-6-|---|-8-|
B|---|-4-|---|-6-|---|-8-|
G|-3-|---|-5-|---|-7-|---|
D|-3-|---|-5-|-6-|---|---|
A|-3-|---|-5-|-6-|---|---|
E|-3-|-4-|---|-6-|---|---|
You may have noticed that the Aeolian mode looks suspiciously like the Natural minor scale. Well thats because its the same thing! In the Gmaj scale the Aeolian mode starts at the 12th fret of the E which is E, hence the name being E Aeolian. Thats because the E natural minor scale has all the same notes as the Gmaj scale. The is the same with all Aeolian modes. The Aeolian mode is the 6th mode so this means that any major scale will contain the same notes as the natural minor scale of its 6th note. For example lets pick the Cmaj scale. Its 6th note is A. So A Aeolian/A natural minor contain the same notes as the Cmaj scale: C D E F G A B. Simple. Hope that explains the idea of modes. Enjoy.
More fleh lessons:
+ Finger Speed Workouts Soloing 10/06/2008
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