Introduction To Modes

Have you ever wondered what modes are? Have you tried to figure it out yourself but was left confused? Has someone tried explaining it to you and you end up more confused by the end of it? If this is you you are not alone. More often then not guitarist get very confused when the topic of modes is brought up. This doesn't have to be the case though!

When I first started learning about modes they completely went over my head. As soon as it sunk in though I realized it was a very easy thing to understand. Sure, it had to be explained to me 5 times for it to sink in but once I understood it they were very easy to understand. So let’s begin.

What are modes?

Modes are the exact same thing as the major scale, but have a different tonal center. Did that last sentence make no sense? No worries, let’s look at an example. Let’s take the key of C.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7

In this common major scale we have the notes and the intervals. Notice that the 1 is located under the C, which is the root. What if we took the exact same scale but moved the 1 to another note, say D?

1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7

In this example above we have the exact same notes as the key of C but the root (tonal center) is D. This gives us a new set of intervals giving us a new scale (D Dorian). This is what modes are, a major scale where the root is on a different note of the scale.

How many modes are there?

Since the major scale consist of 7 notes, there are 7 modes. Ionian (Major scale) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Aeolian (Natural minor) 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 Locrian 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
1 b2 b3 45 b6 b7 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
1 2 3 4 5 6 b7

Once you understand this you have taken the first step to being able to play modes. Read this as many times as it takes for it to sink in, once it does try memorizing the modes and the formulas and playing through them.

About The Author:

Dylan Andrews is a professional guitarist, teacher, and entrepreneur living in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Dylan has been teaching guitar for over 5 years and has helped over 100 people learn the guitar. If your looking for guitar lessons in Lawrenceville Dylan is the person you want to see.