Modes II

author: Logz date: 10/03/2007 category: the basics
rating: 9.5 / votes: 237 
Welcome all to my complete lesson on modes. In this lessons, I hope to explain in detail what modes are, how they work and how they can be applied to music. Table Of Contents
1. Enharmonics and Diatonics
2. Modes Defined
2.1 Modes Feelings
3. Constructing Modes
3.1 Example 1: Dorian Mode construction
3.2 Example 2: A# Phrygian Mode
3.3 List of Intervals
4. Chords Over Modes
4.1 The four Triads
4.2 Major Modes
4.3 The Minor Modes
4.4 what's left? Locrian
4.5 Extending your chords
4.5.1 Ionian Mode
4.5.2 Dorian Mode
4.5.3 Phrygian Mode
4.5.4 Lydian Mode
4.5.5 Mixolydian Mode
4.5.6 Aeolian Mode
4.5.7 Locrian Mode
4.6 Just looking for that feeling? 
4.7 Until next time! 
5. Modal Chord Progressions
5.1 What is a chord progression
5.2 Refreshing your mind
5.3 Moving Modes
5.3.1 Step 1 - Moving to the mode
5.3.2 Step 2 - Applying the rules
5.4 Roman Numerals
5.5 And there you have it! 

1. Enharmonically Speaking

Ok, before we go on, there's one thing you need to know. Enharmonics, and diatonics. A Definition for enharmonics means Two names for one meaning. Ok, lets use an audible example. Play the 2nd fret of the Low E String. Hear that? It is a half step above F, and can be called F#. However, it is a half step below G and so it can also be called Gb. These are exactly the same thing. Another example, the 1st fret of the B string. This is a C note. However, it's also called B#. Below, I have included a list of enharmonics, just for your knowledge:
A > A#/Bb > B/Cb > B#/C > C#/Db > D > D#/Eb > E/Fb > E#/F > F#/Gb > G > G#/Ab
The next thing, is Diatonics. This means you need, in a 7 tone scale, each note used at least once. For example, in the C Major scale, we use all the notes:
C D E F G A B C
This scale, is therefore, diatonically correct. Lets use another example. The F# Major scale, but make it diatonically incorrect:
E Gb Ab A B Db Eb E
Why isn't this scale diatonically correct? Well look at it. Where is the F note and C note? Why has the A and E notes been used twice? This can easily be solved using enharmonics:
E F# G# A B C# D# E
Fb Gb Ab Bbb Cbb Db Eb Fb
These are both enharmonically and diatonically correct versions of the E (or Fb) Major scale.

2. Modes Defined

Modes are much like scales. They are a series of intervals, which with a scale key provide a series of pitches. You can build modes of any scale. But for the time being, and to avoid confusion, I'll only be talking about modes of the major scale. The difference between modes and scales, is that a mode comes from a scale. For example, the C Major scale has these notes:
C D E F G A B C
A Mode is basically, the exact same scale, but starting on a different note. Therefore, the first mode of the C Major scale would be this:
D E F G A B C D
A good way to see how this works, is to look at the diagram of modes below. Each mode is derieved from the C Major scale.
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
There are 7 different notes in the major scale. This means, we can create a total of 7 different modes from the major scale alone. These modes are:
Ionian 
Dorian
Phrygian 
Lydian 
Mixolydian 
Aeolian 
Locrian
2.1 Modes Feelings. Each mode of the major scale can create it's own, individual sound. However, you can only accomplish this sound by learning the theory behind modes. So what do I mean, "individual sounds"? Well, Each one of those 7 modes can, if used properly, sound distinctive. Guitarists use modes in to suit the feeling of the song they are trying to write. If they are trying to write a happy song, they'll use a certain mode, if they try to give the song a sad sound, they'll use another mode. And so on.

3. Constructing Modes

This part of the lesson will either be very confusing, or very simple, although, when you understand how it works, and it suddenly clicks, it'll all make sense! Ok, this is why, you need to know about the major scale and intervals. Lets start with the basics. We know each degree, or note, of the major scale is the root note of a mode. Therefore, the first note of the Major scale, creates the first mode, which is Ionian. The second note of the major scale creates the second mode, which is Dorian. The third note of the major scale creates the third mode, which is Phrygian, and so on. Lets start with the 1st degree of the major scale. This creates the Ionian mode. But you might be thinking; "Well, if the root note of the major scale creates the Ionian mode, does that mean there's two names for one scale?" The answer is yes. The major scale, can also be called the Ionian mode. This is our starting scale, so give each note of the Major scale an interval. In these examples, I will be using the C Major scale.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 - Major scale intervals
C D E F G A B C - C Major scale
You should be familiar with this. So, we've already constructed our first mode! Congratulations. 3.1 Example 1: Dorian Mode Construction. Lets move onto the Dorian mode. This is the second mode of the major scale, so we start on the second note / degree. Because we are using the C Major scale, the root note of the Dorian mode will be "D", and this is our D Dorian mode:
D E F G A B C D
The next step, is to compare the notes of the D Major scale with the D Dorian Mode:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1   - Major scale intervals
D E F# G A B C# D - D Major Scale
D E F G A B C D   - D Dorian Mode
There are two differences between the notes. In the Major scale, there is an F#, however, in the Dorian scale, it's only a F. Also, In the major scale, there is a C#, however, in the Dorian mode, there is a normal C. So, how do we get the major scale to flatten it's 3rd and 7th notes? by putting a flat (b) sign before it's intervals:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1   - Major scale intervals
D E F# G A B C# D - D Major Scale
1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 1 - Our new flattened 3rd and 7th intervals
| | | | | | | |
v v v v v v v v
D E F G A B C D   - D Dorian Mode
3.2 Example 2: D Phrygian Mode Construction. Lets take a more harder one. Our base will be the Bb Major scale.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
We want to find out the intervals used in the Phrygian Scale. So, the phrygian scale is the 3rd Major mode, so we find the 3rd note of our Bb Major scale. It's D, therefore, we will be using the D Phrygian mode.
D Phrygian:
D Eb F G A Bb C D
So, we have the notes for the D Phrygian scale, now we need to compare them to the D Major scale:
D Eb F G A Bb C D - D Phrygian Mode
D E F# G A B C# D - D Major scale
As you can see, there are a lot of differences. Lets start from the left and work to the right. 1. Both the D's match up, so there ok. 2. The second notes don't match up. Ones a Eb, and ones a E. Therefore, we need to flatten the second interval of the Major scale in order to fit it in with the Phrygian Mode. 3. The 3rd degrees don't match up either. In the Phrygian mode, there is a F and in the Major scale there is a F#. Therefore, we need to flatten the 3rd degree of the major scale as well, to make that F# into a F. 4. The 4th, and 5th degrees are both the same, so we don't need to worry about them. 5. The 6th and 7th degrees of each scale don't match either. We need to flatten the 6th and 7th degree major scale to fit into the phrygian mode. Therefore, to sum it up, we need these intervals:
1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1
If you apply these intervals to the D Major scale, you now have the D Phrygian mode. If you use this process for each mode, you will eventually be able to work out every interval for every mode of the Major scale! 3.3 List Of Intervals.
Ionian Mode     1  2  3  4  5  6  7 1
Dorian Mode     1  2 b3  4  5  6 b7 1
Phrygian Mode   1 b2 b3  4  5 b6 b7 1
Lydian Mode     1  2  3 #4  5  6  7 1
Mixolydian Mode 1  2  3  4  5  6 b7 1
Aeolian Mode    1  2 b3  4  5 b6 b7 1
Locrian Mode    1 b2 b3  4 b5 b6 b7 1

4. Chords Over Modes

4.1 The Four Triads. You should be familiar with chord construction, however, if you'r not, I'll quickly go over it. Basically, a triad is a chord with 3 different pitches in it. An easy example of this would be C Major: C E G. See? Three different pitches. Now, there are four different types of triads, and these are:
Major
Minor
Augmented 
Diminished
Each one of these triads has a set of 3 intervals which you can apply to a scale in order to get the desired chord. Lets look at these intervals:
Major      1  3  5 
Minor      1 b3  5
Augmented  1  3 #5
Diminished 1 b3 b5
You should be familiar with intervals. These are the four triads we will be using extensively throughout the course of this lesson. 4.2 Major Modes. Each mode has a dominant feature about it. Some modes have a major sound and some have a minor sound. In this section, I'll explain how you work these out based on intervals. Lets start with the Major modes. As you know, the modes are Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. 3 of these modes are what we call major modes. Why call them major? Well, lets look at the major triad again. it's intervals are 1 3 5. So what's so major about this? The Major 3rd and perfect 5th intervals! These two intervals tell us that this chord is major. Also, any scale with these two interval in it, is also major.So lets recap on our modes again, and look more closely at the intervals:
Ionian Mode     1  2  3  4  5  6  7 1
Dorian Mode     1  2 b3  4  5  6 b7 1
Phrygian Mode   1 b2 b3  4  5 b6 b7 1
Lydian Mode     1  2  3 #4  5  6  7 1
Mixolydian Mode 1  2  3  4  5  6 b7 1
Aeolian Mode    1  2 b3  4  5 b6 b7 1
Locrian Mode    1 b2 b3  4 b5 b6 b7 1
To find the modes which are major, we need to find which ones have a Major 3rd (3) and Perfect 5th (5) interval in them. This is easy! There's only 3 modes with 3 and 5 in them.
Ionian
Lydian
Mixolydian
These 3 modes are dominantly Major. However, they must not be confused with dominant chords. 4.3 The Minor Modes. Now we have found out which of the 7 modes are major, we can find out which ones have a minor sound to them. We do this using the same process, however, lets look at the Minor triad.
Minor 1 b3 5
What's so minor about this chord? Again, look at the 3rd and 5th intervals. The 3rd interval has a 'b' in front of it. We call this a Minor 3rd. So, lets look again through our modes and find out which ones are minor!
Dorian   1  2 b3 4 5  6 b7 1
Phrygian 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1
Aeolian  1  2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1
These 3 modes are dominantly Minor. Again, these modes should not be confused with Dominant Minor chords. 4.4 What's Left? Locrian. Okay. Now that we have found out the tonality of 6 of the 7 modes, we only have one left to look at - Locrian. Locrian is a weird one. If we look at the 3rd and 5th intervals, they are both flattened (Minor 3rd and Diminished 5th). So which triad does this mode fit under? We already know it can't be a Major triad, and we know it can't be a Minor Triad. Therefore, it can only either be Diminished or Augmented. If we look at our augmented triad, it has a Major 3rd and an Augmented 5th. So this can't be it. We need a triad which has a minor 3rd and diminished 5th. The only one which has these two, is the diminished triad. Therefore, Locrian is a Diminished Mode. 4.5 Extending Your Chords! Ok, so now we know which modes are Major, which ones are minor and also which one is diminished. Below I've written it all out to make it simple for you:
Ionian Major
Dorian Minor
Phrygian Minor
Lydian Major
Mixolydian Major
Aeolian Minor
Locrian Diminished
Now, before you read on into this section, you should be confident about chord construction, as this part will go into depth about each mode. The thing we have to do here is to find out what's different about the mode we're looking at. Each triad can be extended to make it fit in better with it's mode. In this section, we'll look through each mode separately and look at possible chord combinations. 4.5.1 Ionian Mode Extensions. Ok, lets start off with a nice easy one. The Ionian Mode. We already know we can fit a nice easy Major Triad into this mode. So what can we do to extend this triad? Well, look at the intervals which make up the Ionian Mode: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1. The one that's most "in your face" is that Major 7th. The intervals for a Major 7th chord are: 1 3 5 7. As you can see, these intervals fit into it easily enough as well. You can play this mode over any major chord. Possible variations are:
Maj7  1  3 (5) 7
Maj9  1  3 (5) 7  9
Maj11 1 (3) 5  7 (9)  11
Maj13 1  3 (5) 7 (9) (11) 13
4.5.2 Dorian Mode Extensions. The next mode we'll work with is the Dorian mode. Again, we know this is a minor mode, because it has a minor 3rd and perfect 5th. Lets look at the Dorian Modes intervals: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 1. What's the next "in your face" extension? Well, in our previous scale, we used the Major 7th. If we look at this chord, what helps to define this minor scale? The minor 7th (b7) of course! Therefore, this mode fits very well over minor7th (m7) chords:
m7   1 b3 (5) b7
m6   1 b3 (5)  6
m6/9 1 b3 (5)  6  9
m9   1 b3 (5) b7  9
m11  1 b3 (5) b7 (9)  11
m13  1 b3 (5) b7 (9) (11) 13
4.5.3 Phrygian Mode Extensions. Phrygian is one of my favourite modes to work with. It can have a Spanish feel to it, and works as well over rock genres, but can be used over any genre. Phrygian has the intervals 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1, and works over a Minor triad. This mode has a minor 3rd, perfect 5th and a minor 7th. Therefore we know, like the Dorian mode, it'll fit over a m7 chord.
m7    1  b3  5 b7
susb9 1 (5) b7 b9
4.5.4 Lydian Mode Extensions. The Lydian mode can create a dreamy sound. It fits well over a Major triad. The only difference between the Lydian mode and the Ionian mode is it's Augmented 4th. This augmented 4th makes it an ideal mode to play Maj7#11 chords over:
Maj7    1 3 (5) 7
maj9    1 3 (5) 7 9 
Maj7#11 1 3 (5) 7 9 #11
4.5.5 Mixolydian Mode Extensions. Again, there's only once difference between this mode and the Ionian mode. This is the Minor 7th. You can play any Dominant 7th chords over this mode:
dom7    1 3  5  b7
 - 7/6  1 3 (5)  6 b7
 - 9    1 3  5  b7  9
 - add9 1 3 (5)  9
 - sus  1 4 (5) b7 OR 1 2 (5) b7
4.5.6 Aeolian Mode Extensions. The aeolian mode is the main recognised "minor" mode. It is also widely recognised as the natural Minor scale. It has a minor 3rd, minor 6th and a minor 7th.
m7   1 b3 (5) b7
m9   1 b3 (5) b7  9
m11  1 b3 (5) b7 (9) 11
(b6) 1 b3 (5) b6
In some cases, this mode can be used as a substitute from the Dorian Mode. 4.5.7 Locrian Mode Extensions. This mode has a dark mood to it, helped by it's minor 3rd and diminished 5th. This mode works over diminished chords, and is also good for m7b5 chords.
1 b3 b5
1 b3 b5 b7
4.6 Just Looking For That Feeling? Below I have included a diagram, wrote by Elvenkindje which helps you to see the mood of each mode. The happy modes start at the top, and as you move downwards, they get progressivly "sadder".
Lydian:     1  2  3 #4  5  6  7
Ionian:     1  2  3  4  5  6  7
Mixolydian: 1  2  3  4  5  6 b7
Dorian:     1  2 b3  4  5  6 b7
Aeolian:    1  2 b3  4  5 b6 b7
Phrygian:   1 b2 b3  4  5 b6 b7
Locrian:    1 b2 b3  4 b5 b6 b7

5. Modal Chord Progressions

5.1 What Is A Chord Progression. A chord progression is basically what it says. A progression, or series, of chords. Some chords sound good together, some sound bad. Some sound average and some sound awesome. Every band uses chord progressions, if not in their guitars, in their singing. Progressions are used as a base for improvisation, solos, singing and so on. Now, this is where modes come into it. If you remember back to the Modal Chords installation, you'll remember that we can build a chord for each interval, or degree, of the major scale. Because there are 7 notes in each mode, that means you can create 7 triads in total for each mode, one triad for each degree of the mode. 5.2 Refreshing Your Mind. In installment 1, we realised that the major scale can construct 7 different modes. In installment 2, we realised that each mode has a certain triad that can fit over it. This is what we came to:
Ionian Major
Dorian Minor
Phrygian Minor
Lydian Major
Mixolydian Major
Aeolian Minor
Locrian Diminished
If you do not understand this, read back over installment 2! Without realising it, you have just worked out the Major scales, or Ionian Modes chord progression. How? You ask? Easy. Remember I said degree of a mode can create it's own chord? Well, in the diagram above, you have the modes for each degree of the major scale!
1     2     3     4     5     6     7          1
Major Minor Minor Major Major Minor Diminished Major
Ok, so, we have created the Ionian modes chord progression. What next? The rest of the modes! 5.3 Moving Modes. Ok, This part is simple. To create mode chord progressions based on modes, there are two steps.
1 - Moving to the mode
2 - Applying the rules
5.3.1 Step 1 - Moving To The Mode. So, Lets move to another mode from the Ionian Mode. Say, Dorian, seeing as it's the next one along. Dorian is the 2nd degree of the Major scale. So how do we make a chord progression of this? First of all, we need to look back at our chord progression of the major scale, this time, look at the intervals:
1     2     3     4     5     6     7          1
Major Minor Minor Major Major Minor Diminished Major
The major scale chord progression starts on "1" and ends on "1." This is because it's the 1st degree of the major scale. So, if Dorian is the second degree of the major scale, that means we start on "2" and end on "2"! Lets apply this to the chords:
2     3     4     5     6     7          1     2
Minor Minor Major Major Minor Diminished Major Minor
See! That wasn't so hard was it! All we've done, is shift the chord progression one chord to the left. So, we've taken the first chord, Major, at put it at the end. Lets try another one to get you in the hang of it. Lets do Aeolian. Aeolian is the 6th mode of the major scale, therefore, we need to start on "6" and end on "6".
6     7          1     2     3     4     5     6
Minor Diminished Major Minor Minor Major Major Minor
Understand it now? This is the first of the two steps to creating chord progressions. You've successfully "moved the mode". Just for a visual guide, I've wrote out the basic chord progressions of each of the modes below:
Ionian     Maj Min Min Maj Maj Min Dim 
Dorian     Min Min Maj Maj Min Dim Maj 
Phrygian   Min Maj Maj Min Dim Maj Min 
Lydian     Maj Maj Min Dim Maj Min Min 
Mixolydian Maj Min Dim Maj Min Min Maj 
Aeolian    Min Dim Maj Min Min Maj Maj 
Locrian    Dim Maj Min Min Maj Maj Min
5.3.2 Step 2 - Applying The Rules. There's one rule to apply to these chord progressions. This is where it might get a little tricky. it's important that you fully understand mode construction and the intervals for modes from this point. I have explained how to create a basic modal chord progression. The next part is how to get the sound to have a "mood". Each mode has intervals. These modes sound unique because they have flats and sharps, and they change depending on what mode your using. Below, I have re-wrote the intervals for each mode. This is to jog your memory, and to use as a guide for the next step.
Ionian Mode     1  2  3  4  5  6  7 1
Dorian Mode     1  2 b3  4  5  6 b7 1
Phrygian Mode   1 b2 b3  4  5 b6 b7 1
Lydian Mode     1  2  3 #4  5  6  7 1
Mixolydian Mode 1  2  3  4  5  6 b7 1
Aeolian Mode    1  2 b3  4  5 b6 b7 1
Locrian Mode    1 b2 b3  4 b5 b6 b7 1
So how do we apply the rule? Well, you need to transfer these flats (b) and sharps (#) to the chord progression. So, lets take an easy example, Lydian, because it only has 1 sharp and no flats. Lydian is the 4th mode of the Major scale. It only has one sharp, which is on the 4th degree. Lets take the Lydian Chord Progression now:
       1     2     3     4          5     6     7 - Intervals
Lydian Major Major Minor Diminished Major Minor Minor
Now, If we look at the intervals used on the Lydian chord progression, and compare them to the Lydian modes actual intervals, you can see, the chord progression is missing a sharp on the 4th degree. To correct this, we need to make the 4th chord in that progression, a sharp. Therefore:
       1     2     3     #4               5     6     7 - Intervals
Lydian Major Major Minor Sharp-Diminished Major Minor Minor
See what I've done? Lets take another example, but a little more harder. The Aeolian mode. The Aeolian mode has the intervals: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1. So, look at the intervals. The 3rd, 6th and 7th degrees are all flats. So lets apply these to our Aeolian Chord Progression:
        1     2          3     4     5     6     7
Aeolian Minor Diminished Major Minor Minor Major Major
Changes to:
        1     2          b3         4     5     b6         b7
Aeolian Minor Diminished Flat-Major Minor Minor Flat-Major Flat-Major
See how it works? 5.4 Roman Numerals. Ok, so now we have learnt how to create modal chord progressions! Congratulations! But sometimes we need to explain chord progressions. It seems inappropriate that we have to say each chords full name (like above) to say what chords are in a chord progression, therefore, we use roman numerals. You may have seen these in music theory, you may have seen them on a sundial. Roman Numerals are like numbers. Now, how do we change Major, Minor, Diminished, Flat, Sharp into Roman numerals? Well lets start with the basics. First of all, we have 7 chords. That means, we need seven roman numerals. These are:
I - ii - iii - iv - v - vi - vii
Now, these, on their own, don't say much. They say we have 7 of something. We need to define them to make them relevant to our chords. Lets start with Major chords. We can define major chords by writing our numerals in capital letters! Therefore, if our first chord was major, it would change from "I" to "I" If our 6th chord was major, it would change from "vi" to "VI." So, how do we define minor? Easy! We leave them in lowercase letters! The next one. Diminished chords. Now, Diminished chords can function as Minor chords, because it has a b3, so we write them in lowercase letters. However, we also need readers to understand that it's not a minor chord, but it is, in fact a diminished chord. So how do we do it? To do this, we add a little symbol. The symbol is a little circle, which floats to the right of the numeral. This is the symbol: You can write this symbol by holding down "alt" on your keyboard, and pressing 0 1 7 6 in that order. So, if our 1st chord is diminished, instead of writing just "I" we will add to the end of it, to create this: "I". If our 7th chord is diminished, we write: "vii". The last two symbols are easy. Flat and Sharp, "b" and "#" respectively. So, now you know how to describe roman numerals. How do you apply them? Well, lets take the Ionian Mode chord progression to start with:
Ionian: Major Minor Minor Major Major Minor Diminished
So, using our new knowledge of Numerals, lets change this into them. The 1st chord is a Major chord. Therefore our 1st roman numeral will be in capitals. The 2nd chord is a Minor chord. Therefore our 2nd roman numeral will be in lowercase. The 3rd chord is a Minor chord. Therefore our 3rd roman numeral will be in lowercase. The 4th chord is a Major chord. Therefore our 4th roman numeral will be in capitals. The 5th chord is a Major chord. Therefore our 5th roman numeral will be in capitals. The 6th chord is a Minor chord. Therefore our 6th roman numeral will be in lowercase. The 7th chord is a diminished chord. Therefore our 7th roman numeral will be in lowercase, and have a . So, using this, lets change it into our numerals:
Ionian: I ii iii IV V vi vii
This is our Ionian Modes chord progression in Roman numerals! Now, lets take another example, of a harder one. The Locrian Mode. We know that in long term, this is what the Locrian mode looks like:
Locrian:
Diminished Flat-Major Flat-Minor Minor Flat-Major Flat-Major Flat-Minor
So lets change this into roman numerals:
Locrian: I bII biii IV bV bVI bvii
See how that works? Eventually, if you work out all the numerals for each mode, you'll end up with this:
Ionian     I   ii   iii   IV   V   vi   vii 
Dorian     I   ii  bIII   IV   v   vi bVII
Phrygian   I  bII  bIII   iv   v bVI  bvii
Lydian     I   II   iii  #iv  V   vi   vii
Mixolydian I   ii   iii  IV   v   vi  bVII
Aeolian    I   ii bIII   iv   v  bVI  bVII
Locrian    I bII  biii   iv  bV  bVI  bvii
5.5 And There You Have It! Well that's the end of this lesson. I hope you have understood this lesson, and that it'll come in use for you one day. Best luck!
More Logz lessons:
+ Basic To Advanced Tuning The Basics 07/01/2005
+ Tuning Your Guitar By Ear For Beginners 12/16/2004
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