Modes question

Guitar Tricks Forum > Music Theory > Modes question

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 04/29/00

Posts: 267

Here goes nothin'...

First off, I should say don't get frustrated with this. It took me several months before everything fit together. Just try to get as many points of view as possible and eventually it will fall in place.

We'll do this in C, because there are no sharps or flats. Now, we all know the basic major scale from all those kids tunes and whatnot. We call the major scale IONIAN, and it is the parent scale from which the other 6 are derived. All 7 modes of a key contain the same notes in the same order, the differene being that you start on different degrees of IONIAN.

So here are the 7 modes for the key of C:
code:
C IONIAN-------C D E F G A B C
D DORIAN-------D E F G A B C D
E PHRYGIAN-----E F G A B C D E
F LYDIAN-------F G A B C D E F
G MIXOLYDIAN---G A B C D E F G
A AEOLIAN------A B C D E F G A
B LOCRIAN------B C D E F G A B
[/code]
You can see that these all contain the same notes in the same order, but each mode has a distinct sound.

Take a look a this:

I ii iii IV V vi vii°

These Roman numerals are used extensively in classical music theory to show the quality of the chord built on the degree of the scale in question. Capital Roman numerals mean the chord built from that degree is major, and lower case means the chords are minor. The ° on the vii chord means diminished. (A + would mean augmented, but it is not natural.) The chords are the first, third, and fifth notes of the mode, commonly called the 1, 3, and 5.

For example, in C major, this would be the analysis for the chords of the degrees of the C major scale:
code:
CHORD----NAME----NOTES----QUALITY
I--------C-------C-E-G----major
ii-------Dm------D-F-A----minor
iii------Em------E-G-B----minor
IV-------F-------F-A-C----major
V--------G-------G-B-D----major
vi-------Am------A-C-E----minor
vii°-----B°------B-D-F----diminished
[/code]
The natural minor of a key is AEOLIAN, the 6th degree of IONIAN. IONIAN and AEOLIAN are the two modes classical music is based on, and thus, the most important. The analysis for the AEOLIAN mode is:

i ii° III iv v VI VII

You can see it is the same pattern as a major key, just shifted.

I hope this helps. It's hard for me to explain it because there is so much and each person's view is a little different. If there's anything else you want to know, just ask.

[This message has been edited by ekstasis16 (edited 06-20-2000).]

#1

Here goes nothin'...

First off, I should say don't get frustrated with this. It took me several months before everything fit together. Just try to get as many points of view as possible and eventually it will fall in place.

We'll do this in C, because there are no sharps or flats. Now, we all know the basic major scale from all those kids tunes and whatnot. We call the major scale IONIAN, and it is the parent scale from which the other 6 are derived. All 7 modes of a key contain the same notes in the same order, the differene being that you start on different degrees of IONIAN.

So here are the 7 modes for the key of C:
code:
C IONIAN-------C D E F G A B C
D DORIAN-------D E F G A B C D
E PHRYGIAN-----E F G A B C D E
F LYDIAN-------F G A B C D E F
G MIXOLYDIAN---G A B C D E F G
A AEOLIAN------A B C D E F G A
B LOCRIAN------B C D E F G A B
[/code]
You can see that these all contain the same notes in the same order, but each mode has a distinct sound.

Take a look a this:

I ii iii IV V vi vii°

These Roman numerals are used extensively in classical music theory to show the quality of the chord built on the degree of the scale in question. Capital Roman numerals mean the chord built from that degree is major, and lower case means the chords are minor. The ° on the vii chord means diminished. (A + would mean augmented, but it is not natural.) The chords are the first, third, and fifth notes of the mode, commonly called the 1, 3, and 5.

For example, in C major, this would be the analysis for the chords of the degrees of the C major scale:
code:
CHORD----NAME----NOTES----QUALITY
I--------C-------C-E-G----major
ii-------Dm------D-F-A----minor
iii------Em------E-G-B----minor
IV-------F-------F-A-C----major
V--------G-------G-B-D----major
vi-------Am------A-C-E----minor
vii°-----B°------B-D-F----diminished
[/code]
The natural minor of a key is AEOLIAN, the 6th degree of IONIAN. IONIAN and AEOLIAN are the two modes classical music is based on, and thus, the most important. The analysis for the AEOLIAN mode is:

i ii° III iv v VI VII

You can see it is the same pattern as a major key, just shifted.

I hope this helps. It's hard for me to explain it because there is so much and each person's view is a little different. If there's anything else you want to know, just ask.

[This message has been edited by ekstasis16 (edited 06-20-2000).]

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 04/29/00

Posts: 267

There are different fingerings for all scales; I felt these were the most common and easiest to play for me. What determines the mode you're playing is the root. For example, if a song was in the key of E minor, you would probably want to use the E Aeolian or E Dorian modes because they are minor and they are, of course, in E minor. The fingerings don't matter too much, it's what notes you use to create a certain type of sound.

Three notes per string is common because it's naturally easy for the fingers to play quickly. Usually I use my index, middle, and pinky fingers for three-note-per-string patterns.

To some degree, these patterns can fit in other places, but these fingerings go 2 octaves in the same position, so it's a little easier. The most important thing is what notes you are emphasizing that determine the mode. In E minor, plaing E Aeolian, you'll probably play a lot of E's since since it's the root.

There are no real rules for this kind of stuff, so it's a little vague. You just have to do your best to work through it.

#2

There are different fingerings for all scales; I felt these were the most common and easiest to play for me. What determines the mode you're playing is the root. For example, if a song was in the key of E minor, you would probably want to use the E Aeolian or E Dorian modes because they are minor and they are, of course, in E minor. The fingerings don't matter too much, it's what notes you use to create a certain type of sound.

Three notes per string is common because it's naturally easy for the fingers to play quickly. Usually I use my index, middle, and pinky fingers for three-note-per-string patterns.

To some degree, these patterns can fit in other places, but these fingerings go 2 octaves in the same position, so it's a little easier. The most important thing is what notes you are emphasizing that determine the mode. In E minor, plaing E Aeolian, you'll probably play a lot of E's since since it's the root.

There are no real rules for this kind of stuff, so it's a little vague. You just have to do your best to work through it.

Registered User

Joined: 04/03/00

Posts: 527

Alright, here goes....

A is actually the 6th note in the C Major scale...this means that it is already a mode of C...So, really you're still in the key of C, but you're playing at one of the most known modes, which has become a key in its own right..The important thing is you realise the A Minor is the relative minor if C Major (Ionian), or that it is the 6th note is the C Major scale...So, by playing the 5th mode of A minor, you're really playing the 3rd mode of C Major...

Major Key 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Note C D E F G A B
Am Note 3 4 5 6 7 1 2

Major Key 6 7 1 2 3 4 5
Note A B C D E F G
Am Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

So it's the same scales, same key, different starting note...

Hopefully I've helped you out here, if not, ignore me and I'll try again...I was in a bit of hurry...Good luck and take your time, it'll all make sense eventually...

#3

Alright, here goes....

A is actually the 6th note in the C Major scale...this means that it is already a mode of C...So, really you're still in the key of C, but you're playing at one of the most known modes, which has become a key in its own right..The important thing is you realise the A Minor is the relative minor if C Major (Ionian), or that it is the 6th note is the C Major scale...So, by playing the 5th mode of A minor, you're really playing the 3rd mode of C Major...

Major Key 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Note C D E F G A B
Am Note 3 4 5 6 7 1 2

Major Key 6 7 1 2 3 4 5
Note A B C D E F G
Am Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

So it's the same scales, same key, different starting note...

Hopefully I've helped you out here, if not, ignore me and I'll try again...I was in a bit of hurry...Good luck and take your time, it'll all make sense eventually...

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 04/29/00

Posts: 267

Here's my 2 cents.

James - you said you mapped out E phrygian, and did it correctly. You said that phrygian is the 3rd note of a scale, but it is the 3rd note of the major (ionian) scale, not just any scale. Because A minor is derived from C major, E phrygian is the 3rd note of C major. Relative to A minor, E phrygian is it's 5th mode. All modes are relative to one another provided they're in the same key.

As a side note, let me add the following. It gives you the modes relative to the mode you are playing in. I hope it's not too confusing.


Ionian

I - ionian
ii - dorian
iii - phrygian
IV - lydian
V - mixolydian
vi - aeolian
vii° - locrian


Dorian

i - dorian
ii - phrygian
III - lydian
IV - mixolydian
v - aeolian
vi° - locrian
VII - ionian


Phrygian

i - phrygian
II - lydian
III - mixolydian
iv - aeolian
v° - locrian
VI - ionian
vii - dorian


Lydian

I - lydian
II - mixolydian
iii - aeolian
iv° - locrian
V - ionian
vi - dorian
vii - phrygian


Mixolydian

I - mixolydian
ii - aeolian
iii° - locrian
IV - ionian
v - dorian
vi - phrygian
VII - lydian


Aeolian

i - aeolian
ii° - locrian
III - ionian
iv - dorian
v - phrygian
VI - lydian
VII - mixolydian


Locrian

i° - locrian
II - ionian
iii - dorian
iv - phrygian
V - lydian
VI - mixolydian
vii - aeolian

#4

Here's my 2 cents.

James - you said you mapped out E phrygian, and did it correctly. You said that phrygian is the 3rd note of a scale, but it is the 3rd note of the major (ionian) scale, not just any scale. Because A minor is derived from C major, E phrygian is the 3rd note of C major. Relative to A minor, E phrygian is it's 5th mode. All modes are relative to one another provided they're in the same key.

As a side note, let me add the following. It gives you the modes relative to the mode you are playing in. I hope it's not too confusing.


Ionian

I - ionian
ii - dorian
iii - phrygian
IV - lydian
V - mixolydian
vi - aeolian
vii° - locrian


Dorian

i - dorian
ii - phrygian
III - lydian
IV - mixolydian
v - aeolian
vi° - locrian
VII - ionian


Phrygian

i - phrygian
II - lydian
III - mixolydian
iv - aeolian
v° - locrian
VI - ionian
vii - dorian


Lydian

I - lydian
II - mixolydian
iii - aeolian
iv° - locrian
V - ionian
vi - dorian
vii - phrygian


Mixolydian

I - mixolydian
ii - aeolian
iii° - locrian
IV - ionian
v - dorian
vi - phrygian
VII - lydian


Aeolian

i - aeolian
ii° - locrian
III - ionian
iv - dorian
v - phrygian
VI - lydian
VII - mixolydian


Locrian

i° - locrian
II - ionian
iii - dorian
iv - phrygian
V - lydian
VI - mixolydian
vii - aeolian

Moderator

Joined: 04/02/00

Posts: 39

Confused???!!??

I Am

But I'll keep reading this stuff til it clicks.


Take it Eazy

Dave

#5

Confused???!!??

I Am

But I'll keep reading this stuff til it clicks.


Take it Eazy

Dave

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 04/29/00

Posts: 267

No, no, no, no. Perhaps this is my fault. It is difficult to understand, so I'll try different methods until it clicks.

James - If you say, "Let's play in A minor", you might as well say, "Let's play in A aeolian", because it's the same thing. When people say they're in D major, they could also say D ionian. It's the same thing. Ionian is the modal term for 'major', and aeolian is the modal term for 'minor'. While all the modes can be classified as major or minor (or diminished in poor old locrian's case), it's because of their interval qualities.

If something is in A minor, that is the key it's in. The mode it's in is A aeolian, because when talking about modes, we want to use modal terms. Don't say it's in C aeolian - that's a whole other key. A minor comes from C major, because A aeolian is based off the sixth note of C major (or C ionian - same thing), and likewise C major is based off of the third note of A minor (or A aeolian).

I think what's confusing people is the use of the terms 'minor', amd 'major'.
When talking about what key a song is in, we use the terms major or minor. For instance, Happy Birthday is in E major (or whatever key you sing it in - the point is that its straight major). Modes really only apply to guitar. No other instrument or form of music than guitar music uses the concept of modes. In classical music of the past, songs were either major or minor (ionian or aeolian, although they didn't use modal terminology). In rock or metal, etc., it's not always the case. 'The Shortest Straw' by Metallica is in E Locrian. I suppose you could say it is in the key of E Locrian (don't say it's in F major (the relative major of E locrian) - it's just plain confusing - the root of the song is E).

Music was fine until guitars came along and threw everything out of whack.

#6

No, no, no, no. Perhaps this is my fault. It is difficult to understand, so I'll try different methods until it clicks.

James - If you say, "Let's play in A minor", you might as well say, "Let's play in A aeolian", because it's the same thing. When people say they're in D major, they could also say D ionian. It's the same thing. Ionian is the modal term for 'major', and aeolian is the modal term for 'minor'. While all the modes can be classified as major or minor (or diminished in poor old locrian's case), it's because of their interval qualities.

If something is in A minor, that is the key it's in. The mode it's in is A aeolian, because when talking about modes, we want to use modal terms. Don't say it's in C aeolian - that's a whole other key. A minor comes from C major, because A aeolian is based off the sixth note of C major (or C ionian - same thing), and likewise C major is based off of the third note of A minor (or A aeolian).

I think what's confusing people is the use of the terms 'minor', amd 'major'.
When talking about what key a song is in, we use the terms major or minor. For instance, Happy Birthday is in E major (or whatever key you sing it in - the point is that its straight major). Modes really only apply to guitar. No other instrument or form of music than guitar music uses the concept of modes. In classical music of the past, songs were either major or minor (ionian or aeolian, although they didn't use modal terminology). In rock or metal, etc., it's not always the case. 'The Shortest Straw' by Metallica is in E Locrian. I suppose you could say it is in the key of E Locrian (don't say it's in F major (the relative major of E locrian) - it's just plain confusing - the root of the song is E).

Music was fine until guitars came along and threw everything out of whack.

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 04/29/00

Posts: 267

My current guitar teacher introduced all of this stuff to me. Modes took me about two months to understand. I looked at it every way - even went so far as to write out all the notes for all the modes for all the keys. I memorized the positions and the pieces began to fit into the puzzle. When I took a Music Theory AP class my senior year in high school this year, I learned about all the aspects of theory. Oddly enough, we covered modes for about a day because it is so unimportant in classical music and theory. Go figure. That made me the class expert on modes. I'm really glad I took the class.

[This message has been edited by ekstasis16 (edited 07-12-2000).]

#7

My current guitar teacher introduced all of this stuff to me. Modes took me about two months to understand. I looked at it every way - even went so far as to write out all the notes for all the modes for all the keys. I memorized the positions and the pieces began to fit into the puzzle. When I took a Music Theory AP class my senior year in high school this year, I learned about all the aspects of theory. Oddly enough, we covered modes for about a day because it is so unimportant in classical music and theory. Go figure. That made me the class expert on modes. I'm really glad I took the class.

[This message has been edited by ekstasis16 (edited 07-12-2000).]

Registered User

Joined: 04/03/00

Posts: 527

I learnt through books and the internet...I'm completely selftaught, from playing to understanding...I have no previous musical background, I simply pick up and play, try and work out how it works....Just goes to show, you don't have to be a genius! hehe

#8

I learnt through books and the internet...I'm completely selftaught, from playing to understanding...I have no previous musical background, I simply pick up and play, try and work out how it works....Just goes to show, you don't have to be a genius! hehe