What are modes on guitar?


Modes are really quite simple but can also be confusing. In simple terms its like this. In music there are 7 alphabetic letters. A to G. In the key of C the notes are C, D, E, F, G, A & B. The C major scale consists of these 7 notes. A mode is simply the starting point. If you play from C to C (in the key of C) its considered to be the first mode known as Ionian. There are 7 modes because there are 7 different notes or starting points.  Here are the names of the 7 modes along with examples that would match with the key of C.

1. Ionian C – C2. Dorian D – D3. Phrygian E – E4. Lydian F – F5. Mixolydian G – G6. Aeolian A – A7. Locrian B – B

Let’s look at an example. The 6th mode Aeolian is also commonly known as the natural minor scale. The notes are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A. Try playing on guitar and listen to how it sounds.

For a full explanation please check out the G4 GUITAR Theory Book by emailing g4guitar1@gmail.com.

David J. Hart

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