# Basic Theory Made Easy. Part 3: Mostly Modes

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Basic theory and Modes shouldn't be put together. Modes are far from basic and the problem with a lot of players is that they think modes are necessary to understand when, in actuality, a solid understanding of tonal theory will get them much further in their effort to understand music. Also, you tack enharmonics onto the end. Surely you should have discussed enharmonics in an earlier column.
Modes are pretty basic if you learn them right. I think this is the wrong way to learn them. The intervals for the major(Ionian) scale is W,W,H,W,W,W,H. The Major modal scales are just the intervals moving up. The next scale in the sequence is the Dorian scale. The intervals are W,H,W,W,W,H,W. Now compare the intervals for the Dorian scale to the Ionian scale. See a pattern? This goes through all the modal scales. Well anyhow, thats how i see them. Also, you should learn the modal scales based on the harmonic minor scale, the melodic minor scale, the neopolitan, the pentatonic, and the diminished scale. Keep in mind that it's alot easier when you learn the intervals. Plus memorising the notes on the fretboard makes it so much easier.
@Myshadow46_2 Those are good points. But this article fits with the flow of my previous articles. Instead of going into reading actual notes first, I showed how to build a major scale in any key. All you have to do is read the previous articles and you'd understand. Also, the basic modes are not advanced once you learn how to build a major scale from scratch. Finally, I "announced" in my previous article what the content of this would be.
modes are basic. thats still first semester music theory 101. if you think they're not, you have no idea how far theory actually goes.
thanks for posting these! I've been playing for 3 years and never cared to learn theory until I realized how important and useful it is. These are great, but sometimes confusing, but thats understandable. By far the best theory lessons on this site. (: please keep posting
Years of playing and reading and I still cant figure out what a bloody mode is
@MWriff: In some people, the concept is really something that just has to "soak in" over time. I would recommend reading the previous articles if you haven't. I'd be happy to address any questions you'd have. @guitar-girl21: Thanks! If you have any problems, I find the best thing to do at that point is just to learn each thing one at a time until it is stamped onto your brain. Play with the concept and get to know it. Then move on to the next part as it builds from the previous.
I've been studying theory since I started playing guitar a year ago and this article is clear to understand, as many across the internet. The problem as a beginner though is that all these articles explain the theory but don't explain how to put it into practice. I can build a mode in any key on paper but I can't visualize fast enough in my head to put it into use while on the guitar. Any suggestions as to how you would take this and add it to your practice routine?
It's about damn time someone takes a break from the typical "learn to read music" and "memorize the circle of fifths." I know those will be required sooner or later, but right now, this article has helped me more than all my music teachers. Great job, keep up the good work.
@Hab Fan: I understand your concern. But I take the "Jeff Berlin" approach at implementing modes.... and I am not trying to sound harsh here. I don't think modes should really be implemented as way to harmonize. Get to know your chord tones FIRST. Those are the most important things for harmonizing. Then, once you understand where the mode fits into that particular chord progression and melody, use it to "flavor" what you are playing. I could go on and on about how this is a better approach. In order to REALLY understand how a mode harmonizes, you must also understand pretty much ALL the diatonic (naturally forming) chords that are related to that mode. It is also important to HEAR the mode as a separate scale and be able to identify each interval and scale degree. It's not hard, but it takes a lot of practice. If you hang around for the next two or three articles in this series, I will undoubtedly cover most of what you will need to know to be able to implement what I have said. I will also keep that in mind for a future article.
@Fallen_Seeker: Thanks! I'd rather teach the "mechanics" of building the major scale FIRST because everything else is relative to that, even the circle of fifths. Besides, if you learn to build it, you don't have to memorize anything.... well, except how to initially build it For the record though, I DO recommend everyone learn to read at some point even if at an elementary level. It is a GREAT tool for musical communication and it just may land you a gig some day.
I've never understood all the confusion around modes (though I don't mean to condescend those who find it difficult, different learning patterns I guess) but this article is just another clear and easy to follow presentation of an interesting subject. Great stuf
@TheDissident: Thanks. I'm the same way. I understood them the day they were shown to me. Not to condescend either, but I was in grade school at the time. But that was well after I learned the steps in the major scale.
Jon...I Salut u! I liked all ur articles...u knw what u are talkin abt...keep it up man \m/
@Metalloy: Cool. Thanks.
Thanks jonthecomposer, another excellent article i look foreword to the followup on it because this is as far as my musical knowledge goes, but it's a great review and i still learn from all this
@Deeker: Again, thank you. I should be putting another one or two out before the end of the week. I've been pretty busy lately, so the frequency of my writing, no pun intended, hasn't been what it usually is.