Modes

author: UG Team date: 07/31/2003 category: guitar techniques

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Modes? What are modes? With this lesson I will make them clear. The major scale can have 7 other scales derived from it - these are its modes. For example, this is the C major scale:
Fig 1:

e|----------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------10-12--|
G|-------------------------9-10-12--------|
D|-----------------9-10-12----------------|
A|---------8-10-12------------------------|
E|-8-10-12--------------------------------|

e|----------------------------------------|
B|-13-------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
But, if you were to play the same notes, except starting and ending on D, you would get the D Dorian scale:
Fig 2:

e|----------------------------------------|
B|-------------------------------10-12-13-|
G|-----------------------9-10-12----------|
D|---------------9-10-12------------------|
A|-------8-10-12--------------------------|
E|-10-12----------------------------------|

e|-10-------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
The notes in the C major scale are CDEFGAB, thus D is the second degree of the C major scale, thus a major scale played using the second degree as the key centre is a Dorian scale. The other major modes are as follows:
3rd Degree (E, in C major) = Phrygian
4th Degree (F in C major) = Lydian
5th Degree (G in C major) = Mixolydian
6th Degree (A in C major) = Aeolian
7th Degree (B in C major) = Locrian
Modes can also be built from Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor scales, but the principle is the same: you play the scale using a different note as the key centre. All modes have their own particular "color" and are useful in different situations, so play them until you familiarise yourself with their "colors."

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