Thursday, March 11, 2010

Modes ( 3-String Forms )

When you play a major scale you are in fact playing a mode. Any time the tones of a key are played in sequence spanning an octave, it's a mode. For example; the sequence C D E F G A B C, usually referred to as a major scale, is also known as the Ionian Mode. The sequence D E F G A B C D is the Dorian Mode, E F G A B C D E is the Phrygian Mode.

Modes are useful for playing harmonies and are important in understanding how melodies work. Songs don't all begin and end on the tonic.

Two modes are shown above; Ionian and Phrygian. Notice that the note positions in one are the exact opposite of the other. The interval structures of these two modes are mirror images of each other;

Each mode contains all the tones of the key, but they each begin and end on a different tone. Play each mode and you'll find that they have their own individual musical character. These two modes harmonize because they are a 3rd apart. If two guitars each play one of these modes in synch with each other, the result will be a harmonious scale.

There are seven modes, one for each scale degree. Below is a list of the modes and their interval structures;

I = Ionian Mode;

C D E F G A B C / W W H W W W H

II = Dorian Mode;

D E F G A B C D / W H W W W H W

III = Phrygian Mode;

E F G A B C D E / H W W W H W W

IV = Lydian Mode;

F G A B C D E F / W W W H W W H

V = Mixolydian Mode;

G A B C D E F G / W W H W W H W

VI = Aeolian Mode;

A B C D E F G A / W H W W H W W

VII = Locrian Mode;

B C D E F G A B / H W W H W W W


We'll look at the symmetrical relationships of the other modes in the next posting.

All contents of this blog are © Mark Newstetter

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