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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright so i was in English class the other day trying to figure out the spelling of some scales and i found that the

C Ionian (Major)
A Aeolian
E Phrygian

Have the same notes used in those scales. Which are a-b-c-d-e-f-g.

If they have the same notes in the scale then why are they called different modes??

Can someone please help me out and clear the confusion?
 

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Backwards Mind said:
Alright so i was in English class the other day trying to figure out the spelling of some scales and i found that the

C Ionian (Major)
A Aeolian
E Phrygian

Have the same notes used in those scales. Which are a-b-c-d-e-f-g.

If they have the same notes in the scale then why are they called different modes??

Can someone please help me out and clear the confusion?
This is something that seems to bother everyone when they are starting with modes lol.

One of the reasons these modes have different names even though they have the same exact notes is because the home base of where you are playing is changed. For example, if you are playing over a C Major (C,E,G)(Ionian) chord in the key of C Major (Ionian) and then you switch to playing over an A minor chord in the key of C Major, you are now technically in A Aeolian. The same goes for phrygian. If improvised over a E minor chord in the key of C major you are technically playing in the E Phrygian mode.

The only difference between C Ionian (major) and A Aeolian or E Phrygian is the emphasis on what you are playing them over (and the fact that Ionian is a major mode while Aeolian and Phrygian are minor modes).

Here is a list of the modes in the key of C.

C Ionian (Major tonality) C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
D Dorian (Minor tonality) D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D
E Phygian (Minor tonality) E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E
F Lydian (Major tonality) F, G, A, B, C, D ,E ,F
G Mixolydian (Major tonality) G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G
A Aeolian (Minor tonality) A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A
B Locrian (Diminished/Minor tonality) B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B
C Ionian (Major) --------------------

A good way to hear the differences between these modes is to make a I, IV, V chord progression from each mode. If you dont know what that is, basically you are taking the 1st note of a mode/scale the 4th note and the 5th note and then building triads off of each individual note to create the progression.

So in the D Dorian mode we can take the notes D (root), G (4th note/degree) and A (5th note/degree) and create a chord progression that should give you a very very basic idea of how that mode sounds.

The progression is D minor (D, F, A), G major (G, B, D) and A minor (A, C, E). I recommend that you mix it up and add extensions like 7ths and 4ths. Also, experiment with the other modes too.

A few pieces of advice for you though. One is to go out now and get the current issue of Guitar World magazine (July '07. the one with Slash on the cover). Joe Satriani has a lesson on modes and pitch axis theory in it that is IMMENSELY useful.

Another suggestion is not to get caught up in the theory aspect of guitar. You dont want to really be thinking 'oh what mode am I in now' because that is just going to restrict your playing. If anything, you have to get to a point where you can change modes using something like the pitch axis theory without even thinking, which is what im still trying to do.

Im sorry if I confused. I know I was when I first started on this stuff about a year ago, so I can definetly sympathize. Please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

Rock on:irock: :irock: :irock:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much Shredder89!!! That helped me out a lot!! I got a pretty good grasp on what you said. Im gonna start experimenting with chord progressions and using those modes over them to understand it more. My friend had told me that modes are used to create "moods" in music. Is this true? Thanks again for all your help!!
 

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Backwards Mind said:
Thank you so much Shredder89!!! That helped me out a lot!! I got a pretty good grasp on what you said. Im gonna start experimenting with chord progressions and using those modes over them to understand it more. My friend had told me that modes are used to create "moods" in music. Is this true? Thanks again for all your help!!
No problem dude. Im glad that I was able to help you. Honestly, im still grasping the stuff myself.

One thing that you mentioned that I didnt touch down on was the moods, which is true. You can label each mode as having a particular mood, but I think it is better to develop your own opinion about them. For example, most people will typically tell you that Lydian gives you a happy major vibe or something. For me, I like to use it for a darker sound.

This all comes back to what you were asking before about why these modes have different names. Well the main reason is because of their "Intervallic Composition" if you will (I kinda made that up lol;) ). What this means is that each mode is composed by sharpening or flattening particular notes of a major scale. I'm going to show you this in scale degrees. Im assuming you know that there are seven notes in a mode and then there is the octave note.

Ionian (major) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Dorian - 1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7b
Phrygian - 1, 2b, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7b
Lydian - 1, 2, 3, 4#, 5, 6, 7
Mixolydian - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7b
Aeolian - 1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7b
Locrian- 1, 2b, 3b, 4, 5b, 6b, 7b

Now lets try and break this chart down. First of all, like I said before, you are sharpening or flattening notes to create the mode. As you can see, each mode is very distinct in which notes are changed. Also, one thing that I realized as I was trying to teach you this is that each mode is based off of the major (Ionian mode).

For example we will take D Dorian. It is made by Flattening the 3rd scale degree of D Ionian, which is F#, and the 7th degree which is C#. By this method we go from having:

D Ionian - D, E, F#,G, A, B, C#

to having:

D Dorian - D, E, F, G, A, B, C

This is why the modes in the key of C major have different names even though they all have the same notes.

This is a technique called the Pitch Axis Theory and you can do it with any scale/mode you can think of. Basically, you are taking a root note (in this case D) and using it as an Axis point for a bunch of different modes/scales. IMO it is the best way to hear the differences in tonality of the modes.

This is probably what your friend meant when he was talking about using the modes for moods because if you are playing in C Lydian, for example and then you switch to C Phrygian, there is going to be a drastic change in the mood of the song/solo.

This is a good technique to use in order to break out of one particular scale when playing. For example, we could be playing over an E minor chord (E, G, B) in the key of C major. Since it is a minor chord, and all of the minor modes have the 1, 3b, and 5 despite all of their other differences, we suddenly have three basic modes to work from (E Phrygian, E Dorian, and E Aeolian). Technically, we have other options such as E harmonic minor and E Phrygian Dominant. Ill show you them real quick

Harmonic Minor - 1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7
Phrygian Dominant - 1, 2b, 3, 4, 5, 6b, 7b

Now that I think of it, E Phrygian Dominant technically would not work since you have a Major 3rd in there instead of a Minor 3rd, but this is rock'n'roll:irock: and the rules are that there are no rules. When studying these modes I cannot stress this enough. Dont get stuck in the rut of saying you cant do something just because it doesnt agree with the theory.

Hope this helps. Good Luck.:irock: :irock: :irock:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The Shredder89 said:
No problem dude. Im glad that I was able to help you. Honestly, im still grasping the stuff myself.

One thing that you mentioned that I didnt touch down on was the moods, which is true. You can label each mode as having a particular mood, but I think it is better to develop your own opinion about them. For example, most people will typically tell you that Lydian gives you a happy major vibe or something. For me, I like to use it for a darker sound.

This all comes back to what you were asking before about why these modes have different names. Well the main reason is because of their "Intervallic Composition" if you will (I kinda made that up lol;) ). What this means is that each mode is composed by sharpening or flattening particular notes of a major scale. I'm going to show you this in scale degrees. Im assuming you know that there are seven notes in a mode and then there is the octave note.

Ionian (major) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Dorian - 1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7b
Phrygian - 1, 2b, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7b
Lydian - 1, 2, 3, 4#, 5, 6, 7
Mixolydian - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7b
Aeolian - 1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7b
Locrian- 1, 2b, 3b, 4, 5b, 6b, 7b

Now lets try and break this chart down. First of all, like I said before, you are sharpening or flattening notes to create the mode. As you can see, each mode is very distinct in which notes are changed. Also, one thing that I realized as I was trying to teach you this is that each mode is based off of the major (Ionian mode).

For example we will take D Dorian. It is made by Flattening the 3rd scale degree of D Ionian, which is F#, and the 7th degree which is C#. By this method we go from having:

D Ionian - D, E, F#,G, A, B, C#

to having:

D Dorian - D, E, F, G, A, B, C

This is why the modes in the key of C major have different names even though they all have the same notes.

This is a technique called the Pitch Axis Theory and you can do it with any scale/mode you can think of. Basically, you are taking a root note (in this case D) and using it as an Axis point for a bunch of different modes/scales. IMO it is the best way to hear the differences in tonality of the modes.

This is probably what your friend meant when he was talking about using the modes for moods because if you are playing in C Lydian, for example and then you switch to C Phrygian, there is going to be a drastic change in the mood of the song/solo.

This is a good technique to use in order to break out of one particular scale when playing. For example, we could be playing over an E minor chord (E, G, B) in the key of C major. Since it is a minor chord, and all of the minor modes have the 1, 3b, and 5 despite all of their other differences, we suddenly have three basic modes to work from (E Phrygian, E Dorian, and E Aeolian). Technically, we have other options such as E harmonic minor and E Phrygian Dominant. Ill show you them real quick

Harmonic Minor - 1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7
Phrygian Dominant - 1, 2b, 3, 4, 5, 6b, 7b

Now that I think of it, E Phrygian Dominant technically would not work since you have a Major 3rd in there instead of a Minor 3rd, but this is rock'n'roll:irock: and the rules are that there are no rules. When studying these modes I cannot stress this enough. Dont get stuck in the rut of saying you cant do something just because it doesnt agree with the theory.

Hope this helps. Good Luck.:irock: :irock: :irock:
Hell yeah man!! Ive been experimenting with the information that you've given me and its really helped me a lot! You've cleared up a lot of confusion!
 
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