Modes of The Diatonic Major Scale: What Are they?

Discussion in 'English Guitar Tabs - Submit or Request' started by MuktiMusic, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member

    Modes of The Diatonic Major Scale
    Here are seven Greek names. What do they mean? Why might we want to have an understanding of their meaning and their use?

    The major scale below is created by spacing the intervals according to the Diatonic Major Scale Formula.

    w: whole step [2 frets]
    h: half step [1 fret]

    The Diatonic Major Scale {DMS}:

    ...w....w....h.....w....w...w...h [Intervals]
    C....D....E....F.....G....A...B....C [Key of C]
    1....2....3....4.....5....6....7.....1 [Degrees of the scale]

    This is the Key of C, also known as the C Ionian mode. In this discussion we will never leave the key of C, however we will rotate the members of the key so that another member besides C will wear the 'temporary hat' of the tonal center or '1'.

    Only the original scale derived from the formula above can be regarded as the key, in this case the C Major [as well as its own modal name: in this case C Ionian]. All rotations that take place within the key are referred to as modes only, not keys in themselves.

    The modes of the 7 degrees of the DMS:

    6>Aeolian {also called the relative minor}

    Rotations of the key of C:

    C Major Scale
    ..[Ionian mode]: CDEFGABC

    D Dorian mode: DEFGABCD

    E Phrygian mode: EFGABCDE

    F Lydian mode: FGABCDEF

    G Mixolydian {Mixo} mode: GABCDEFG

    A Aeolian mode: ABCDEFGA

    B Locrian mode: BCDEFGAB

    * Note: these rotations all contain the same notes. They all live in harmony [pun intended] within the same key.

    For most of us playing the guitar we will be satisfied with working in the following modes:

    `Ionian `Dorian `Mixolydian and `Aeolian. For some we will explore further the `Lydian and `Phrygian modes. And a few will have the interest to explore the `Locrian which is the most dissonant of the modes.

    The 4 modes mentioned above convey the following tonal center in relationship to whichever member of the C major scale is wearing the 'hat'. So...

    C Major [Ionian]: Major triad [CEG]. Major 7 chord {CEGB] when extended to include the 7th. Solfeggio [its sequence: CEFGABC]

    D Minor [Dorian]: Minor triad [DFA]. Minor 7th chord [DFAC].

    G Dominant [Mixolydian]: Major triad [GBD]. Dominant 7th chord [GBDF]. [GABCDEFG]

    A Minor [Aeolian]: Minor triad {ACE]. Minor 7th chord [ACEG].

    *Note: All the notes used are from the C major scale. We never left its key.


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  2. deathdr_87

    deathdr_87 Awesome Guitarist

    i jsut posted a very detailed lesson on modes yesterday (started day efore - completed yesterday) in the tips and tricks forum- and was just about to add that part on how to find 7ths of each chord in a key.

    U play the relative mode of the major and see what interval exists for the 7th - as n major or minro 7th.

    u can laso decide whether a chord is major or minor y playing the relative mode and seeing whether the 3rd is a major or minor third.

    ill take ur example of the mixolydian mode relative to the C ionian (hence g mixolydian)
    its copy pasted btw - im sure wont mind

    G Dominant [Mixolydian]: Major triad [GBD]. Dominant 7th chord [GBDF]. [GABCDEFG]
    Mixolydian formula: R-W-W-H-W-W-H-W
    hence: root-2nd-major 3rd-perfect 4th-perfect 5th- major 6th-minor 7th-root
    root: G
    third: B - which is a major 3rd
    5th: D - which means that this chord is not augmented ut a standard major chord

    if u want to add a 7th:
    7th: F - this is a minor 7th interval when taken from G; thus the chord will be known as a G7 (a.k.a. dominant 7th as u call it or GMaj7min - this last notation tends to be the most explanative and least controvewrsial because it clearly explains the two most critical tonal charactersics of the chord, i.e. the 3rd and the 7th. -also the lack of aug or dim means its a perfect 5th interval for the 5th note - this is jsut to add on to what u said... pls. correctme if im wrong newhere - mukti u really know ur stuff and am would gladly accept criticism of my lesson modal theory posted in the guitar tips and tricks forum.

    oh ya - metal musicians end up using the locrian and phrygian modes more often than the others... i think spanish musicians also use it a lot...
  3. deathdr_87

    deathdr_87 Awesome Guitarist

    im copy pasting both of these posts into that thread - ill acknowledge the 1st is urs - mukti let me know if u have a problem with this- ill remove it at once.
  4. MuktiMusic

    MuktiMusic New Member


    Hey brother. Thanks for your interest. I think the most politically correct thing to do is to allow my thread to appear under my Avatar, not yours. I suggest you imbed the following link on your post and draw attention to my thread that way. Thanks for your consideration.

    Please imbed: It will take the reader to my thread.

    Thanks. MM :think:
  5. aysh

    aysh -|h3 ori9in4| (ui!aris-|-

    whaat do we mean by tonal centre ?
  6. ssslayer

    ssslayer Banned

    Use of modes

    The modes can be thought of as scales that are a little off normal ...
    Most of the songs (chords) follow a fixed scale (which makes the stuff musical - otherwise it'll sound crap). Now suppose am playing a song having Cmaj, Fmaj, Gmaj ... u can be assured that the scale being used is C major scale (also known as C Ionian) - incidentally which is the same as A minor scale (also known as A Aeolian) ...
    so there u have two modes ...

    So suppose u r playing leads over a progression in Cmaj Fmaj Gmaj ... and u use C Ionian scale (or A Aeolian scale - which is the same thing) ... all the notes will sound good ... coz the chords are made of the notes of those scales

    Now if I wanto have some spice to throw ... what i'll do is to play some additional notes which are not in the regular scale ... So if i want a little bluesy/jazzy sound ... i'll play C mixolydian ... coz that scale contains a note which makes a normal chord sound bluesy (like Dominant 7th chord) - C mixolydian sounds like this - C D E F G A Bb - that B flat note makes it sound bluesy ...

    If I try playing C Lydian mode - which is kinda C D E F# G A B - the F# note stands out in the chord progression - and makes it sound a little weird - Joes Satch uses that kinda sound ...

    Instead of major scales i can use minor also - will yield the same effect - like A Aeolian instead of C Ionian, A Dorian instead of C Mixolydian, or A Phrygian instead of C Lydian ...

    Now we come to a nice departure from the usual stuff - i wanna sound really like a blues player - what u need to understand id that blues is played with major chords - however the leads are played with minor scale - so in effect what this means is that u play Cmaj Fmaj Gmaj - the leads u play are C Dorian - which is C D Eb F G A# Bb - wow so many of the notes do not belong to the chord - but then that what makes is Blues ...

    Most of the rock imusic is not so experimental - so u stick around playing Ionian or Aeolian mode of the scale the chords are built on ...
  7. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    ok im a lil will u make up the c mixo scale?...and why the mixo
  8. ssslayer

    ssslayer Banned

    "C mixolydian sounds like this - C D E F G A Bb - that B flat note makes it sound bluesy ..."

    i guess that answers "how will u make up the c mixo scale?...and why the mixo"

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