Learn Improv With Modes


MODAL MUSIC began in ancient Greece. Influence by the Greeks, the early church used a system of MODES- almost all music written before the 1500's was based on the various modes. Many well-known folk songs are modal. In recent years modal music has become more and more popular, and modern composers use modal melodies and harmonies in their compositions.

Any scale of 8 NEIGHBORING WHITE KEYS is a MODAL SCALE.

Each Greek mode was named after an ancient group of people whose musical system it was supposed to represent. In our modern system, we still use the IONIAN MODE, which we call the MAJOR MODE.

The scale using 8 white keys, beginning and ending on C, which we call the C MAJOR SCALE, may also be called the IONIAN SCALE. It is in the IONIAN MODE.

The scale using 8 white keys, beginning and ending on D, is called the DORIAN SCALE. It is in the DORIAN MODE.

The scale using 8 white keys beginning and ending on E, is called the PHRYGIAN SCALE. It is in the PHRYGIAN MODE.

The scale using 8 white keys, beginning and ending on F, is called the LYDIAN SCALE. It is in the LYDIAN MODE.

The scale using 8 white keys, beginning and ending on G, is called the MIXOLYDIAN SCALE. It is in the MIXOLYDIAN MODE.

The scale using 8 white keys, beginning and ending on A, is called the AEOLIAN SCALE. It is in the AEOLIAN MODE.

The scale using 8 white keys, beginning and ending on B, is called the LOCRIAN SCALE. It is in the LOCRIAN MODE. the LOCRIAN MODE was not used in ancient times and is only occasionally used by modern composers. The IONIAN, DORIAN, PHRYGIAN, LYDIAN, MIXOLYDIAN, and AEOLIAN modes are called AUTHENTIC MODES. The LOCRIAN is not an authentic mode.

Each mode, however, may be transposed to begin on any KEY.
AN EASY WAY TO KNOW EACH MODE:

THE IONIAN MODE is very easy:
It's the same as the Major scale.
THE DORIAN MODE:
Play any natural minor scale with the 6th tone raised one half-step. Dorian is playing from the 2nd-to-the-2nd. It is a minor sounding mode that works well over minor chords.
THE PHRYGIAN MODE:
Play any natural minor scale with the 2nd tone lowered one half-step. Phrygian is playing from the 3rd-to-the-
3rd. This mode gives you a "Spanish" sound.
THE LYDIAN MODE:
Play any major scale with the 4th tone raised one half-step.Lydian is playing from the 4th-to-the-4th. This
mode has a Major sound that is "uplifting" due to the
sharped fourth.
THE MIXOLYDIAN MODE:
Play any major scale with the 7th tone lowered one half-step. Mixolydian is playing from the 5th-to-the-5th.
This mode is often used for a dominant seventh chords due
to the flattened seventh.
THE AEOLIAN MODE:
Play any natural minor scale with no changes. Aeolian is playing from the 6th-to-the-6th. This mode is the same as
the Natural minor scale. It is a minor sounding mode.
THE LOCRIAN MODE:
Play any natural minor scale with the 2nd and 5th tones lowered one half-step. Locrian is playing from the 7th-to-the-7th. It is a minor sounding mode that is often
used with diminished sounding chords.

Helpful Tip: D to D is D Dorian or "the Dorian mode in the key of C." It is not C Dorian. It is Dorian in the Key of C. If we want to know what C Dorian is, we need to ask ourselves, "C is the second scale degree of what Major scale? B flat, of course! Have fun playing and improvising with modes, creating unique sounds quickly!




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