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Modes of the Major Scale: Introduction


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Modes of the Major Scale

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In this tutorial we will learn the seven modes of the major scale. We'll learn the unique interval formula of each mode and how to play each mode as it relates to its parent scale, or home key. We'll also explore playing all seven modes as 3-note per string patterns that will cover all six strings. This makes it possible to explore the entire fretboard and explore the shapes and sounds of the major scale modes. It will also show us how to see how all the mode patterns are interconnected together and cover the entire fretboard vertically and horizontally forming an integrated pattern.

We will learn to visualize, play & identify the sound of the modes as fretboard patterns. We'll do a backing track play along for each mode in order to get practice at applying each modes.

Modes are essentially a way of using a scale. If we start with the diatonic major scale and then we play the scale giving each note of the scale a chance to be the first note, then we create seven sequences that are the modes of the major scale. In this way, we are only using notes from one major scale. But by viewing them from a different perspective, using each note in turn to start the series of notes, we wind up with a different set of intervals between the mode degrees.

In general, there are 2 ways of looking at modes:

1. Structural: each mode relates to a parent scale. So you are always in one major scale, G major for example, and the various modes are just ways of playing a G major scale, but starting on each note in turn. Often this is used to stay in one key, but play over the chord changes within the key.

2. Ornamental: You just play whichever mode you like the sound of at the time regardless of the key. This requires that you know & apply the scale or mode interval formula.

This tutorial will focus on the first point, the structural uses of the modes. I have two separate tutorials for learning about the ornamental uses of the modes.

Practicing Major Modes

Practicing Minor Modes

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