Guitar Lessons

Guitar 101

Modes & Usage

There are a total of 7 modes. What are modes you might say? They are degrees that make up a major scale.

Take  a C scale for instance. A C scale is made up of C D E F G A B C. Each one of these is a degree of the scale, that not only changes the tonality but the scale pattern itself will also change. Sound confusing. Let’s take a look at all 7 modes.
So if you play the in the key of C and your focus is a Dm, then the dorian mode is perfect because it is the 2nd degree of the C scale.

1. Ionion Mode              W-W-H-W-W-W-H
2. Dorion Mode             W-H-W-W-W-H-W
3. Phrygian Mode           H-W-W-W-H-W-W
4. Lydian Mode             W-W-W-H-W-W-H
5. Mixolydian Mode       W-W-H-W-W-H-W
6. Aeolian Mode            W-H-W-W-H-W-W
7. Locrian Mode           H-W-W-H-W-W-W

A great way to see the shape of a mode is to look at it from a perspective of doing it on one string. For instance if you take a G major scale, which is considered an Ionion and the 1st of degrees, play it in the pattern it’s been given W W  H W W W H, to see it’s true movement in degrees.

Ionion Mode

The Ionian mode is a mode corresponding to the modern major diatonic scale, also considered the first mode of the major key. Here is the shaping of the ionian scale. Keep in mind it covers two octaves.

ionian mode

Dorion Mode

Dorian mode is an interesting mode used in a lot of jazz, blues, and rock.
It may not make much sense on paper, even if you visually see the pattern for this mode, but give your ear a chance to listen to artists that use it, to understand it in it’s full context. Santana for example likes to use Dorian in his soloing. Below the pattern for the Dorian mode is a lick from Santana utilizing it.

dorian mode
Dorian Licks: Carlos Santana – Evil Ways
dorian santana solo 
Phrygian Mode
The Phrygian is the 3rd mode of the modal scales. It can have a very exotic sound when played over certain chords, not to mention a very spanish music.
phrygian mode
Lydian Mode
This mode is the 4th degree of the scale and is known for  a more happy sound, used in rock & jazz. 
lydian mode
Mixolydian Mode
This mode has a very bluesy sound, used in rock, jazz, & blues music. This is the 5th degree of the scale.
mixolydian mode
Aeolian Mode
This mode is the 6th degree of the scale.
aeolian mode
Locrian Mode
This mode is the 7th degree of the scale. This mode is a more rarely used scale, mostly because of it’s strange sound.
locrian mode
Cool YouTube Video on modes!


January 18, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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