General Question

gilgamesh's avatar

What are the seven modes in music and how do they correlate with the major scale?

Asked by gilgamesh (227points) July 13th, 2007

I'm trying to learn the 7 greek modes ( ionian, phrygian ,etc) but im really confused trying to understand it on guitar.

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3 Answers

zina's avatar

the major scale is a set of intervals - half and whole steps. it's easy to see on a piano keyboard -- if you don't have one, draw one (a couple octaves). the major scale goes from C to C on the white notes only. as in, C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C or whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half. this is also the ionian mode.

now, the other modes can be learned the same way. dorian is also whole and half steps, just in a different order. on the piano, it's from D to D on the white notes (which would be W-H-W-W-W-H-W). phrygian is from E to E. lydian is from F, mixolydian from G, aeolian (also known as minor) from A, and locrian from B.

the guitar is obviously not arranged the same way, but if you can locate these notes, you can learn these scales. once you've done that, with your keyboard (or drawing) write out the patterns of whole and half steps (or you can find several online) --- then try starting any given mode on a different pitch. for example, locrian is the SET of whole and half steps as it would be starting on B on the piano and only playing white notes, but you could start it on... G#. any pitch.

this website has the guitar chords for each mode (links are in the left column):

Morgannn's avatar

Good answer.. but make sure that when you explain modes that you explain that EVERY mode can start on ANY pitch/note. Modes are defined by pitch classes, not what note they start on. For example, Dorian does not only just start on D. I think you know this, I just think that your answer is a little misleading.

28lorelei's avatar

For ANY major scale:
Ionian starts on scale degree 1,
Dorian starts on scale degree 2,
Phrygian starts on scale degree 3,
Lydian starts on scale degree 4,
Mixolydian starts on scale degree 5,
Aeolian starts on scale degree 6 (note: same pitches as natural relative minor scale),
Locrian starts on scale degree 7,
then it’s back to Ionian :)

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