Right...with the major scale for example you have the 7 modes, so how the hell do these 7 modes all have different sounds when they all have the same notes, like the major is happy, and the phrygian is spanish (i think)...

and also when someone is playing in the key of D Natural Minor, what makes it this key and not something like G Dorian which has the same notes...?

thanks in advance dudes!
The progression you're playing over determins what key the song is in

I always explain modes by saying, here just an example

D dorian contains the same notes as C major, but revolving them around the D gives the scale a completly different sound/vibe

If you're playing over a G major chord progression, and you start a lick on an Eminor say

you're still using the G major scale, not the E minor. Why? because the progression is G major
Last edited by Peaceful Rocker at Oct 5, 2008,
A mode is basically a texture or feeling within a key. It all depends on what you're playing over. For example, if you play the notes in C major over an A minor chord, you would actually be using A natural minor. They may have the same notes, but the feeling/mood is much, much different because of the chord you're playing it over.
Really, the composer is what makes them sound different . You have to focus not only on what keys you're using, but how you are using them. The tonic changes as you change modes, and as such your musical goal is different. Since all the notes are the same, what actually leads to a different sound is the fact that a different note is the tonal center, causing every note to have multiple and distinct musical functions depending on the mode you use. Write out the intervals between successive notes for two modes sharing a key signature. Keep in mind that the essential detail is that the first key is the tonal center and the concept of modes should become clear.
Dorian isn't the same as natural minor.
EDIT: Didn't read properly.

BTW: "Natural Minor" is also called Aeolian mode.
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Just, no. Locrian should be treated like that gay cousin. Just avoid him cuz he's weird, unstable, and is attracted to the wrong thing.

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Big deal, I bought a hamster once and they put that in a box...doesn't make it a scale.
Last edited by yM.Samurai at Oct 6, 2008,
Harmony implies modes most of the time. I mean, Mixolydian is a pretty "standalone" mode, which is easy to resolve to the proper note.

The difference between all the modes in one key is the note they start on, and the tonic triad. The same way that C Major and A minor are different.
look at modes from a relative perspective but more importantly (and should always be done first to avoid confusion) look at them from the parrallel perspective.

Relative modes:

This is where you derive the modes from a parent scale, so taking the parent scale of C Major: you get the modes C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian and B Locrian. Many people don't like this way of describing relative modes (and to be truthful I don't either) but it is where a lot of people tend to get hung up. If you are playing over a Cmaj progression then you are only using C major/Ionian, none of the other modes are being used because you are resolving to C.

Parallel Modes:

This is a much better way to get a good understanding of how modes work, you relate each of the modes to the same root note, so you compare C Ionian, C Dorian, C Phrygian, C Lydian, C Mixolydian, C Aeolian and C Locrian. You need to have an understanding of the major scale and intervals before you can work with modes.

You must know the following interval formulas for creating the different modes if you want to be able to work with them.

mode - interval formula
Ionian - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Dorian - 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Phrygian - 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Lydian - 1 2 3 4# 5 6 7
Mixlydian - 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Aeolian - 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Locrian - 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

So start with your major scale intervals 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 and then change the intervals to match up with any of the above to get the mode you want.
Last edited by Helpy Helperton at Oct 7, 2008,