Hi I'm addressing myself to those who can spend an hour or so from time to time, to explain me the basic of modes and how to use them. i tried looking on the web for stuff but its sounds all chinese to me.
K, basically, if you start playing a major scale on a different note, it'll have a completely different sound, and it'll be in the key of the note that you started on.

To derive the modes, just start with the C major scale, start on each different note, then compare it to the major scale of that note.... like this.

C Major Scale: C D E F G A B C
The first mode is Ionian... it's the same as the major scale. If we compare the C major scale starting on the first note to the C major scale, all the notes are the same. So we can write this:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
This is just what we're going to have to do with a scale to make it into the Ionian mode... nothing. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th notes are all unchanged.

G Ionian is G A B C D E F# G

The second mode is Dorian. To derive it, we will start on the second note of the C major scale.
D E F G A B C D
This is the D Dorian mode. See, we started the C major scale on a new note. The root note isn't C anymore- it's D. Therefore, we have formed D Dorian, rather than C Dorian. This might confuse you a bit...

Now let's compare D Dorian to D Major.
D E F# G A B C# D
The third and seventh notes are different. To make the D Major scale into the D Dorian mode, we have to flat (lower by 1 note) the third and seventh notes.
So we can write this: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
This pattern applies to every key. So, if we want to make C Dorian...
C major is C D E F G A B C
So if we flat the third and seventh notes...
C D Eb F G A Bb C

The third mode is Phyrgian.
We will start on the third note of C Major... this gives us E Phyrgian.
E F G A B C D E
Then compare to E Major...
E F# G# A B C# D# E
To make E Major into E Phyrgian, we have to flat the second, third, sixth, and seventh notes.
So....
1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
And of course, this applies to every key. So if we want to make, for example, F# Phyrgian...

F# Major: F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#
We flat the second, third, sixth, and seventh notes..

F# Phyrgian: F# G# A B C# D E F#

Here are the patterns for each mode:
Ionian Mode 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Dorian Mode 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Phrygian Mode 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Lydian Mode 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
Mixolydian Mode 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Aeolian Mode 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Locrian Mode 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

...I hate to say it, but even if you don't understand how to derive the modes, you can still use them if you memorize the patterns. In fact, even if you can derive them, it's a lot more convenient to just learn the patterns than to derive them every time.

I hope that helped.
Thanxs a lot, you made it clearer for me... I guess I'll just have to study that a bit and practice!
The modes are NOT just the major scale starting on different notes - they are their own scales and have specific applications, also they only "exist" in certain situations as they're defined by what's being played behind them.

If you try to play "E Phrygian" over a C major progression you'll just be playing in C major.
Actually called Mark!

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...I hate to say it, but even if you don't understand how to derive the modes, you can still use them if you memorize the patterns. In fact, even if you can derive them, it's a lot more convenient to just learn the patterns than to derive them every time.

Memorizing patterns? They're exactly the same as the major scale! The mode is determined by the harmonic context.

TS, make sure you have a firm understanding of major scale theory before you look into modes. I don't know much about getting an online mentor, how about getting a guitar teacher instead?
Quote by Eirien
Memorizing patterns? They're exactly the same as the major scale! The mode is determined by the harmonic context.

TS, make sure you have a firm understanding of major scale theory before you look into modes. I don't know much about getting an online mentor, how about getting a guitar teacher instead?

Modes have unique patterns, and you can learn & memorize them as was suggested. You can also hear play and hear them without harmonic context (with no chordal accompaniment)

shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jul 2, 2008,
If you ever forget any of the names of the modes my theory teacher always taught me to remember that "I don't particularly like my Aunt Lola."

I. I - Ionian (Major)
ii. Don't - Dorian
iii. Particularly - Phrygian
IV.Like - Lydian
V. My - MixoLydian
vi. Aunt - Aonian (Minor)
vii.Lola - Locrian

Just a little saying to help you remember the name and the order they come in.

You need to know the major scales to understand the modes. Let's take C major for example.

The C Major (or Ionian) scale is spelled, CDEFGAB.
Now there are seven modes and seven notes in the scale above. Each note represents one of the modes listed above. Now since D is the second note in the C major scale and Dorian is the second mode, to spell the Dorian mode you would start with the note D and follow the scale as it is spelled so it would be seen as DEFGABC.
This also works with all other modes, lets say you want to know the phrygian scale in the key of C major. Phrygian is the third mode and the third note in the scale is E. So take E and just continue down the scale starting on E. So the E phrygian scale would be spelled EFGABCD.

Well that's just a little help I guess, I'm not the best teacher in the world but I hope that helps lol.
Last edited by MetropolisPt3 at Jul 2, 2008,
Quote by GuitarMunky
Modes have unique patterns, and you can learn & memorize them as was suggested. You can also hear play and hear them without harmonic context (with no chordal accompaniment)

I think it's confusing for people learning modes to think of them as being associated with their own patterns.

Quote by GuitarMunky
You can also hear play and hear them without harmonic context (with no chordal accompaniment)

In these cases I consider the harmonic context to be implied.
Quote by Eirien
I think it's confusing for people learning modes to think of them as being associated with their own patterns.

Why? they have their own unique formula, and sound. Learning the pattern on the neck only reinforces that concept.

Quote by Eirien

In these cases I consider the harmonic context to be implied.

Thats fine as that would be the case for most melodies regardless of scale. The concept of chords supporting a melody is not unique to modes.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jul 2, 2008,
Quote by GuitarMunky
Thats fine as that would be the case for most melodies regardless of scale. The concept of chords supporting a melody is not unique to modes.
They have the same patterns as their relative major scales. Learning that the pattern at the 10th fret is D Dorian leads to claims that you can play D Dorian over a C major chord.
Quote by GuitarMunky
Why? they have their own unique formula, and sound. Learning the pattern on the neck only reinforces that concept.

Well, it can lead people to thinking of them as box shapes for one thing. Do you not think the below statement is misleading?

...I hate to say it, but even if you don't understand how to derive the modes, you can still use them if you memorize the patterns

I'm not saying iimjpii is wrong as such, but this type of thing can lead to people thinking they can play D dorian over C major.

How do you see the patterns of them as being different to the patterns associated with the major scale by the way?
Quote by Eirien
Well, it can lead people to thinking of them as box shapes for one thing. Do you not think the below statement is misleading?

thats good if they learn the "box shapes". The modal scales (like any scale) do in fact form patterns on the neck. Thats a benefit to us as guitarists. Recognizing those patterns isn't something to be discouraged IMO. It's something to learn and utilize.

And no its not misleading. You could learn those patterns, learn what they sound like, and make music with them.
If you are going to take a theory class, you will need to understand them and their relationship to the Major scale. But if your just learning the patterns and learning what they sound like out of personal interest, you could still benefit from the experience. If you have a good ear, you'll likely be able to use them in your music. Either way it can't hurt.

Quote by Eirien

I'm not saying iimjpii is wrong as such, but this type of thing can lead to people thinking they can play D dorian over C major.

How do you see the patterns of them as being different to the patterns associated with the major scale by the way?

G Major:
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------2-4--5---------------------------------
----------------2-3-5--------------------------------------
---------3---5-----------------------------------------------

G Lydian:
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------2-4--5---------------------------------
------------------2-4-5--------------------------------------
---------3---5-----------------------------------------------

different scales
different scale formulas
different sound
different pattern on the neck
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jul 2, 2008,
Quote by GuitarMunky

G Major:
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------2-4--5---------------------------------
----------------2-3-5--------------------------------------
---------3---5-----------------------------------------------

G Lydian:
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------2-4--5---------------------------------
------------------2-4-5--------------------------------------
---------3---5-----------------------------------------------

I was clearly talking about them in relation to their relative major scales. I know it's more practical to learn about them in relation to their parallel major. I should've considered this earlier.

Quote by GuitarMunky
thats good if they learn the "box shapes". The modal scales (like any scale) do in fact form patterns on the neck. Thats a benefit to us as guitarists. Recognizing those patterns isn't something to be discouraged IMO. It's something to learn and utilize.

I wasn't trying to discourage anyone from learning box shapes, I understand how useful they are to guitarists with the guitar being such a visual instrument. Recognising patterns is very important when it comes to knowing the fretboard. I was saying it's wrong to think of modes as being box shapes. You can't argue with that can you?

Quote by GuitarMunky
You could learn those patterns, learn what they sound like, and make music with them.
If you are going to take a theory class, you will need to understand them and their relationship to the Major scale. But if your just learning the patterns and learning what they sound like out of personal interest, you could still benefit from the experience. If you have a good ear, you'll likely be able to use them in your music. Either way it can't hurt.

I completely agree with this. So many people here get told to avoid modes when they just have a casual interest in them. I learned about them like that and enjoyed using them to improvise with. I did get stuck in the box shapes and I did learn bits wrong but that didn't really matter until I started getting more interested in theory.
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Quote by Eirien
I was saying it's wrong to think of modes as being box shapes. You can't argue with that can you?

hehe no I can't and wouldn't want to.

The shapes are just there. Any group of notes, be it a scale or chord will be seen as a shape on the neck. I think most people realize this. Those that don't will in time if they keep studying.

also while I agree with you that you should know there relationship to the Major, I think for application purposes its best to compare them to the scale they are most like (either Major or minor). For instance it's helpful to think of Dorian as a minor scale with a raised (natural) 6th.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jul 2, 2008,
good one!
Since everyone seems to have their own specific opinion on this, I'll study the patterns and learn the theroy when I'll start guitar lessons again.
Quote by fuzzy_frank
Since everyone seems to have their own specific opinion on this, I'll study the patterns and learn the theroy when I'll start guitar lessons again.

No!

The patterns are meaningless without the theory when it comes to modes - you'll likely just end up learning the exact same thing 7 times over without realising it. Learn them properly or don't bother trying.
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Personally, I dont think anyone reliant on patterns should be learning modes (IMO). Modes are quite complex. Understanding them (formulas, order and so on) is probably the easiest part, applying them is where most people get stuck.

Patterns are very misleading when it comes to modes. For example, it doesnt matter what fingering your using, the mode will always be dependant on the harmonic content (chords and so on) underneath. If you played an E phrygian pattern over a Bm7b5 vamp, you'll be playing B locrian, not E phrygian. But alot of guys would say, I'm playing this pattern so its going to sound like this, which is obviously not true.

tldr; I dont think modes are the way to go. Start with major scale theory.
start by understanding the major and minor scale , and then learning them in keys up to 2 or 3 flats or sharps , then introduce the modes 1 at a time ,
starting with dorian , and then mixolydian .
use pratical examples/pieces to understand them ,
learn about their interval formulas , that's probally enough for 1 lesson !