Guitar Modes - Music Theory

Any idea of how to get started on this?

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Welcome, Mark!

Can you be a little more specific about what you are interested in?

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Hi Jono,

Thank you!

I’m interested in learning guitar modes. How to apply each mode over a key.

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Hi Mark,

One thing that helped me with modes is learning that all 7 modes are built out of the Major Scale (1st mode), depending on what note you start the scale (this becomes the mode and the root note). For example, the first mode is the Ionian scale which is the Major Scale. Usually, you learn that C Ionian has no flats or sharps. So it can be the basis to learn.

If you start the scale on the 2nd note of the Major Scale and follow the other notes, you will get the Dorian mode (D Dorian). If you start the scale on the 3rd note of the Major Scale, you get the Phrygian mode (E Phrygian). If you start the scale on the 4th note of the Major Scale, you get the Lydian mode (F Lydian), etc.

Therefore, you can use any of the modes on any chord progression, so long as you “stay in key” by playing notes that are in your chords. This means you want to “land” on a note that is in key, or bend into a note that is in key, etc. after doing a particular scale run using any of the modes.

I hope this helps.

Louie

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Music theory is a very broad subject to attempt to generalize but where I would start is:

  1. Learning the root shapes
  2. Learning intervals (You’re going to have to learn the major scale for this)
  3. Learning the mode names, their characteristics, their order, and what intervals each use

These two things will lead you down the path that will open up so much more. It’s something you can study for the rest of your life. It’s not super hard to learn but it will require some time.

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Very good description their Louie. I just discovered this from reading a music theory book and actually putting two and two together with an exercise I learned from Guitar Hacks. The one where Kiko shows how to use the notes of a C major scale on the A string and their tonal center by using the corresponding cord shapes. Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolidian, Aeolian, and locrian are the modes. It corresponds with C-D-E-F-G-A-B. (I)-whole, (D)-whole, (P-half, (L)-whole, (M)-whole, (A)-whole, (L)-half and the pattern just carries over the same as it shifts per mode or root note with the same major scale formula. Very interesting as I have also started using these mode shapes into my musical exercises. Very awesome as I am getting my ear used to hearing the different melodies. Although using the same scale and shifting the pattern to a different root note it sounds very different indeed. Gives it a totally different feel.

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Intervals are very important. in fact the major scale was the first scale that I learned to use thanks to remembering a singing exercise my music teacher taught me when I was in elementary school. I am so grateful to them for this. I know this may sound crazy but I just learned the Major and Minor Penitonic scale here on Guitar Hacks and I’m having so much fun with it! :blush:

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Hi Mark… I would suggest you start with the 5 minor/major shapes and once you feel very comfortable with them then move onto the 7 modes. If you don’t have a good handle on the minor/major shapes the modes will confuse you and then all you will see is a bunch of notes instead of shapes and modes. start off in Cmaj/Amin because no flats or sharps in that key play a simple A major or minor chord loop it and solo, If you know this then you will see that C Major/IONIAN. A Minor/AEOLIAN have one mode between them LOCRIAN. aeolian/locrian/ioniian. but once again this can be confusing unless you really know how the modes intertwine.

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:crazy_face:

It’s a long journey

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Mark…

but if your dead set on starting with the modes start on Gmajor/Eminor. Then you would start with G/Ionian/major A/Dorian B/Pyrgian C/Lydian D/Mixolydian E/Aolian/minor F#/Locrian.
3. 5 7 8 10 12 14
I ii iii IV V iv vii/dim
starting on high E, see the 7 modes? this is how I learned it…

everything shifts depending on ROOT NOTE!!!

search for guitar modes on google, to understand you want to see the whole guitar neck
then you can decipher how the modes interlink together.

Have fun… Steve

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I think often a more useful way of looking at it, instead of what scale degree of the major scale you start on, is to think of it as an alteration. Example, I don’t really thinking of Lydian as the 4th degree of the major scale, I think of it as a major scale with a #4. This question is pretty broad though without knowing what you already know. Do you know your major and natural minor scales already?

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I don’t want to dig too deep into this because I know that Kiko is working on a course for theory and I’m sure it would not only be better taught but also more complete than what I can explain but I want to add a few things to expand what has already been said in hopes that it will help keep from confusing anyone that may read this…
Learning your root patterns is important. That lets you identify what note your starting on and the available octaves within a pattern which allows you to quickly learn and jump to different intervals within the shape you’re playing.
There are only 5 patterns for the normal “church modes” within these 5 patterns are the 7 modes in order: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. .
The first of the modes is Ionian, which is the Major scale and the other modes are alterations from it. Ionian consists of Root, Major 2nd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th, Major 6th, Major 7th, and the Root note an octave higher. As you play through the different positions of the Major scale you are playing in Ionian mode and each position is named after a mode which is the part that confuses a lot of people, it doesn’t mean you are playing in that mode, it’s just the name of the position which is why the starting interval is important because if you go through the intervals of the position starting on the correct interval for the first note of the pattern you will see that it’s still the Major scale formula. For G Major the patterns would be G Ionian, A Dorian, B Phrygian, C Lydian, D Mixolyidan, E Aeolian, F# Locrian, and once again to G Ionian an octave higher. These are just naming conventions with the note the pattern is starting on followed by the modal name of the pattern. For example, C Lydian doesn’t have the Augmented 4th when played here, you are very much playing the Major scale intervals. You’ll notice that it all sounds like the major scale no matter where you put it or how you play it… because it essentially is until you have a note to go along with it, something that each of the intervals is attracted to or just sounds bad with.This is part of the age old argument that some people will state that the modes are something you hear… they are correct and playing the correct pattern so that you hear those modes is also correct you can’t hear it if you’re not playing it.
So how does Lydian sound like Lydian? Is it another pattern? Nope, you would simply take the Lydian pattern (C Lydian from what we’ve been discussing) and start that pattern on the G as the root and now you’re playing the G Lydian position in the G Lydian mode. This same pattern now has an Augmented 4th because you’re playing the first note of the pattern on the root note. The next position would then be A Mixolydian and so on…
Hope this helps :slight_smile:

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Never heard of “5 Church Modes”…can you explain?

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As I understand it, it is a sort of collective name for the modes we use too. Though in medieval/gregorian music they had more modes (8?) and referred to them only by number and somewhere along the line the Greek names got attached to them.

What caught my eye though in the explanation of @theherd was that he says that there are only 5 patterns… Why is that?

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The history of music can be an endless rabbit hole…don’t get me wrong…I appreciate it…but Kiko preaches the the 7 modes which are a collection of some Major and Minor scales and intervals…thats what I would recommend you focus on.
I mean…practising for 2 hours a day…then one is researching songs and new material…man I just spend so much time on the computer and really try and reach my goals and comprehend each lesson to the point I can utlise it and hear the differents in each mode…there’s only 24 hours in the day lol!

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Apologize if I misunderstand anything, but you asked about them, I just offered what I knew. :slight_smile: And I totally agree: we’ve got just about enough on our plates with the seven modes and 24 hours are just simply not enough. We should acquire Ling Ling superpowers to be able to practice 40 hours a day. :smiley:

This should give you a basic idea

If you’re taking Kiko’s course on the modes you may not want to read further. It would be best to focus and learn the modes as he is teaching them. There are different ways to teach and learn the modes. I believe that Kiko is teaching 3nps based on what I seen in the free live videos though I’m not positive. He may also cover other ways? Either way if you dig deep enough all the methods have the same interval breakdown for each mode the notes are just often played in different places. 3nps is much better for “shredding” in my opinion.

My comment is based on the “caged” scale shapes. For lack of a better explanation, these shapes are more traditional shapes.
The major scale when played along a single string will have 7 intervals and then return to the root an octave higher. The pattern for this is whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. Each of these intervals are a starting point for each of the scale shapes. So you’re thinking well that’s 7 not 5, technically yes but…
The “traditional” shapes for Phrygian and Lydian within a scale are really the same shape you just start on a different interval for the first note. This is the same for the Locrian and Ionian pattern. As I mentioned in my earlier comment, these are the named shapes or forms these are not actually playing the modes. If you read this far, I hope it helped clarify without causing more confusion.

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…aaand actually when I first got a 7 string I realized something similar. At first I sat down and started to map out the “named shapes” starting from the low B. And by the third shape it dawned on me that what I had learnt previously as a e.g. F Lydian shape is now my C Ionian shape on the 7 string, I just need to add the C, D and E on the low B. Same relationship with Myxolydian and Dorian etc. So if I had used my brains before going brute force on “inventing” the 7 string shapes, I could’ve realized that, hey, there’s a P4 between B and E, so the shape a P4 apart will be the 6/7th of my 7 string shape… So yeah, what you’re saying makes perfect sense, I just didn’t use my head (as per usual).

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