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Modes 101


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Modes and chord scales

Modes can be used in a couple of different ways. Either as the tonal center for a song or section of a song, or as a scale that can be used over a specific chord.

You can build a chord from each degree of the major scale, and you can build a mode from each degree of the major scale. Therefore each chord will have a corresponding mode associated with it.

Below is a chart of the 7 modes and the basic triads and 7th chords associated with them.

Ionian

Dorian

Phrygian

Lydian

Mixolydian

Aeolian

Locrian

C
I
Dm
IIm
Em
IIIm
F
IV
G
V
Am
VIm
Bdim
VIIdim
Cmaj7
Imaj7
Dm7
IIm7
Em7
IIIm7
Fmaj7
IVmaj7
G7
V7
Am7
VIm7
Bm7b5
VIIm7b5

Now I know that you are thinking.......if all of these modes contain the same notes, why would I want to think of a different scale for every chord?

Say you have this chord progression that you are going to improvise over.

C Am Dm G

You could look at this chord progression, see that all of the chords come from a C major scale, and just improvise with that scale. That is key area thinking. All of those chords are in one key, so you would just blanket all of them with one scale. The advantage of this type of thinking is that it doesn't require much thought. You can instinctively search for melodies in that scale. The disadvantage is that you are not considering how the notes in the scale sound in relationship to each individual chord.

Another way that you could think about improvising over this chord progression is to think about how the notes in the C major scale relate to the notes of each chord.

Below are the 4 modes for the C Am Dm G chord progression.

C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C - C Ionian Mode (Major)

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  1
|_____|_____| = C

C = C Ionian (Major)
Scale functions indicated

|--7--|--1--|-----|--2--| -1st string
|-----|--5--|-----|--6--|
|--2--|-----|--3--|--4--|
|--6--|-----|--7--|--1--|
|--3--|--4--|-----|--5--|
|-----|--1--|-----|--2--| -6th string
         |
        8th fret

* The notes in red are the notes of the chord within the scale form...the arpeggio.

 

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  A - A Aeolian Mode (Minor)

1  2  b3 4  5  b6 b7 1
|_____|_____| = Am

Am = A Aeolian
Scale functions indicated

|--2--|-b3--|-----|--4--| -1st string
|-----|-b7--|-----|--1--|
|--4--|-----|--5--|-b6--|
|--1--|-----|--2--|-b3--|
|--5--|-b6--|-----|-b7--|
|-----|-b3--|-----|--4--| -6th string
         |
        8th fret

 

D  E  F  G  A  B  C  D - D Dorian Mode
1  2 b3  4  5  6 b7  1
|_____|_____| = Dm

Dm = D Dorian
Scale functions indicated

|--6--|-b7--|-----|--1--| -1st string
|-----|--4--|-----|--5--|
|--1--|-----|--2--|-b3--|
|--5--|-----|--6--|-b7--|
|--2--|-b3--|-----|--4--|
|-----|-b7--|-----|--1--| -6th string
         |
        8th fret

 

G  A  B  C  D  E  F  G - G Mixolydian Mode
1  2  3  4  5  6  b7 1
|_____|_____| = G

G = G Mixolydian
Scale functions indicated

|--3--|--4--|-----|--5--| -1st string
|-----|--1--|-----|--2--|
|--5--|-----|--6--|-b7--|
|--2--|-----|--3--|--4--|
|--6--|-b7--|-----|--1--|
|-----|--4--|-----|--5--| -6th string
         |
        8th fret

It definitely takes more work to learn the neck of the guitar on this level, but if you take the time to work out these ideas, your improvisations will be much stronger. You just need to work on one piece of the puzzle at a time.

Page 4, Parallel modes

Page 6, Major and minor modes



Free Download - 17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF








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