- What are Modes?
- What is the History of the Mode Names?
- How do I Remember the Mode Names?
- What is the Quality / Style / Feel of each Mode?
- What are the Mechanics of the Modes?
- How Learning Modes helps to Play the Guitar
Modes, as defined in the book "Scales &Modes in the Beginning created especially for Guitarists" by Ron MiddleBrook (CenterStream Publications 1982) is as follows:
What are modes?
"A mode if formed simply be taking a scale, such as the 'C' Major scale, and instead of starting on the note C, you start from any other note in the scale an play up to the SAME note an octave higher."
For example, the key of C has seven modes; IONIAN (I, root), DORIAN (II), PHRYGIAN (III), LYDIAN (IV), MIXOLYDIAN (V), AEOLIAN (VI) and LOCRIAN (VII). Each mode starts at a different degree, but uses the same notes of the major scale:
I - C D E F G A B C
II - . D E F G A B C D
III - . . E F G A B C D E
IV - . . . F G A B C D E F
V - . . . . G A B C D E F G
VI - . . . . . A B C D E F G A
VII - . . . . . . B C D E F G A B
The following image shows how these modes are played on the guitar.... click on the image to enlarge it.
|Guitar Modes of the Major Scale|
What is the History of the Mode Names?The name of the modes came from the association of the feel of the musical modes to that which best characterized the different tribes of ancient times. The exact history is spotty at best, and I believe most attempts for the layman to figure out a direct relationship here is impossible.
|Ancient people, tribes and kingdoms|
How do I Remember the Mode Names?
Consider using an acrostic to help memorize the mode names. An acrostic is a poem in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line spells out a word or a message. For example, the G-Clef sequence of music EGBDF can be remember with an acrostic: (E)very (G)ood (B)oy (D)oes (F)ine... or as my childhood music teach taught us (E)lectric (G)reen (B)ananas (D)on't (F)ly. Similarly, we can use Acrostics to remember the modes. Here are some mode-related acrostics I have found on the internet:
What is the Quality / Style / Feel of each Mode? Each mode has a different feel. The modes are listed here in the bright-to-dark order (thanks to JonPR for demonstration this in the acoustics guitar forum).
|Lydian (IV)||Major||Airy, Dreamy, Floating, Anticipation, Happy||* Jazz, Fusion, Rock, Country|
|Ionian (I)||Major||Bright, Happy, Upbeat||Rock, Country, Jazz, Fusion|
|Mixolydian (V)||Major||Bluesy, Angelical, of Youth, uniting pleasure and sadness||Blues, Country, Rockabilly, and Rock, Celtic|
|Dorian (II)||Mountain Minor||Minor Jazzy feel, Jazzy, Sophisticated, Soulful, Serious||Jazz, Fusion, Blues, and Rock|
|Aeolian (VI)||Natural/Classic Minor||Sad, Sorrowful, somber, unhappy||Pop, Blues, Rock, Heavy Metal, Country, Fusion, Folk|
|Phrygian (III)||Minor||Spanish Flavor, Flamenco-esque, Mystic, Vehement, Inciting anger||Flamenco, Fusion, Speed Metal|
|Locrian (VII)||Half-Diminished||Dark, Sinister, Tension, Wanting to Resolve||Jazz, Fusion|
* Some of the quality and style descriptions provided here have been discovered by reading GUITAR LESSON WORLD - MODES by Patrick MacFalane.
Here is a look at JonPR's table with a few enhancements... e.g., I added the relative key column to the left, bolded the notes when they are changed and added the frequency of the notes to help visually what is being heard. This table shows how the next mode is reached by lowering one note for each mode down.
|B||E LYDIAN||E||.||F#||.||G#||.||A#||B||.||C#||.||D#||E||major w/ #4|
|A||E MIXOLYDIAN||E||.||F#||.||G#||A||.||B||.||C#||D||.||E||major w/ b7|
|D||E DORIAN||E||.||F#||G||.||A||.||B||.||C#||D||.||E||minor w/ maj6|
|C||E PHRYGIAN||E||F||.||G||.||A||.||B||C||.||D||.||E||minor w/ b2|
|F||E LOCRIAN||E||F||.||G||.||A||Bb||.||C||.||D||.||E||minor w/ b5 & b2|
|Freq. in Hz||82.4||87.3||92.5||98||103.8||110||116.5||123.4||130.8||138.5||146.8||155.5||164.8|
What are the Mechanics of the Modes?The mechanics are slightly different for each mode.
UPDATE: How Learning Modes Helps to Play the Guitar
Steve asks, "...Would you care to expand on how learning modes has actually helped you (play guitar)?", relative to a post I put up at the acoustic guitar forum:
I have tried to answer this question of how learning modes have helped me play guitar in this video.
I hope this helps you learn modes as the info has helped me. Check out the Acoustic Guitar Forum for more discussions on modes!