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7 mode names explained???

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by 1dreday, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. 1dreday


    Nov 22, 2009
    can someone explain to me what the 7 mode names like ionian mean, ionian, lydian,mixolydian,aeolian,dorian,phrygian,locrian
    seems like its just making it more confusing to have more names.
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Why is red called red?

    Anyway, they're Greek. Try this link, I couldn't get the other one to work....
  3. 1dreday


    Nov 22, 2009
    so is it that they have no real meaning, thats just their names?
  4. 1dreday


    Nov 22, 2009
    also i guess a follow up question is what name does most people use to memorise them
  5. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I don't think there's any need to memorize them. Rote memorization sucks the soul out of music, so just use them and assimilate how they sound to their name, and you'll eventually known them. There are only seven "church modes," as they are often called, so it's no big deal, really.
  6. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I seem to remember that the modes are names of towns or regions. Yep way back when. I'm going to speak in parallel mode talk. In Relative modes the notes stay the same and the key changes, i.e. you walk the key. This is easy to teach, and probably how you were first introduced to modes. In Parallel modes the notes change and the key stays the same. Little harder to understand, but, easy to play, i.e. if you want a Middle Eastern sound use the natural minor scale and flat the 2; that gives you the Phrygian mode and with the correct vamp chords to play over this gives that Middle Eastern sound. The chords you play over contribute as much to the overall sound as the notes themselves. The following is all parallel. May be a paradigm shift for you.

    Ionian is the same notes as the major scale. R-2-3-4-5-6-7. An up beat sound. If you want an up beat sound use the major scale, and forget about Ionian. Why do I say that, well, modes are moods of their scale. Kinda hard to make a mode of the major scale itself. Accept that it is the major scale and use it as such.

    Lydian is the major scale with a #4. R-2-3-#4-5-6-7. Change one note and you get the day dreamy sound of Lydian. Day dreamy is my name for it. It is so close to the major scale I seldom use Lydian, I just use the major scale instead.

    Mixolydian is the major scale with a b7. R-2-3-4-5-6-b7. Works great with dominant seven chords in the Blues. It has a Latin sound when used over a modal vamp. Need a Latin sound, Mix is your mode.

    OK that is the major modes, now for the minor modes.

    Aeolian is the same notes as the natural minor scale. R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7. Notice it is the major scale with the 3, 6 & 7 flatted. It is said to have a sad sound. I do not hear sad, but it does sound minor. You name it. I seldom use Aeolian as a mode. Same reason I do not use Ionian. Accept it as the natural minor scale and use it as such.

    Dorian is the natural minor notes with the b6 sharped to a natural 6. R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7. Gives an attractive minor sound. If I am going minor and going to use a mode Dorian will be my first choice.

    Phrygian is the natural minor notes with a b2. R-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7. I hear Middle Eastern. Fun sound if you need something Middle Eastern.

    Locrian is the diminished mode. R-b2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7. Or think of it as the natural minor notes with the 2 and 5 flatted. It has a dark and tense sound. Works well with a one chord modal vamp using the m7b5 chord as your vamp.

    Now what often drops between the chairs; modes need a droning chord vamp for the modal sound to develop. A chord progression changes chords so fast the modal sound does not have time to develop, plus the chord progression will always call attention to it's tonal center - not the signature sound of the mode. Put another way; scales resolve with a V-I cadence. Modal harmony needs to drone on with the signature sound. This is achieved by sustaining the modal sound with the use of a one or two chord modal vamp. Long story............ Scales work best over a V-I cadence that resolves to the tonal center of the progression. Modes work best with a modal vamp or droning so the modal sound can be heard. Do a Google on Modal vamps. Check this out, yes it does not resolve it sustains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m37y2mltNNI Once you hear that modal vamp drone, how to use modes become clear - the mystery goes away.

    IMO As a new bass player modes will waste a lot of your time. Modes are for the lead guitar guys. Course that is just my opinion. We all seem to go off on modes --- and waste a lot of time before realizing we play chord tones to the beat of the song. Root on one and hope for a groove.

    But, since you asked......
  7. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Agreed that most new bass players need to know nothing about modes, save for Ionian (Major) and Aeolian (natural minor). But most folks don't even consider those to be modes, even thought they are, technically.

    But regarding scales/modes: modes actually are scales and as to whether they resolve or not, the reality is: that depends. Nardis is a modal jazz composition, but it isn't just one mode; it's modally-based and it has resolutions. So that brings up a point: how are modes used in music?

    1) There are compositions that utilize alternating modal sections, such as Nardis - these involve "unconventional" scale choices over chord changes because certain sections of the composition are modal - meaning something other than your garden variety Major/minor.

    2) There are compositions that are completely modal or have long modal sections. Examples include Miles Davis' So What (continually alternating between D dorian and Eb dorian) and the extended jam section in the middle of the Grateful Dead's Playing in the Band from the first half of 1972 (D dorian).

    The key to modality is that the I chord requires something other than a Major or minor scale. I consider modes to be both scales and tonalities (many would argue with me). D dorian is a scale derived from the key of C Major, but it's also a tonality - with the I or home chord being D minor, but you don't play a D minor scale over it (and I'm not talking about running scales, I'm talking about the palette from which one chooses notes), you play a D dorian scale, which is the D natural minor scale with a natural 6th.
  8. phmike


    Oct 25, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    A tip I stumbled across somewhere to help remember the order of mode names. (even though I find little use for modes)

    In - Ionian I
    Denver - Dorian ii
    People - Phrygian iii
    Lyke - Lydian IV
    Music - Mixolydian V
    A - Aeolian vi
    Lot - Locrian vii
  9. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Ask Pythagoras...lol:eyebrow:
  10. tedsalt

    tedsalt Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2010
    Kansas City
    modes = scales

    (followed by fingering)
    Ionian (Major) 2-4-1-2-4-1-3-4
    Dorian (minor) 1-3-4-1-3-5-1-3
    Phrygian (minor) 1-2-4-1-3-4-1-3
    Lydian (Major) 2-4-1-3-4-1-3-4
    Myxolydian (Dominant Major) 2-4-1-2-4-1-2-4
    Aeolian (minor) 1-3-4-1-3-4-1-3
    Locrian (diminished) 1-2-4-1-2-4-1-3
    and back to Ionian (Major (octave)) (see first one)

    I've been taking general music lessons lately, theory and application, in a quest to further what little music knowledge I have. I taught myself and for the most part play by ear.
  11. Amara

    Amara Fumble-Fingered Beginner

    Jan 13, 2014
    They're regions of the Classical world. Each mode was supposed to have been characteristic of the music of a particular region in the ancient world. Ionia is part of Greece, Phrygia is in western Turkey, and so forth. During the Renaissance, scholars managed to get the names of the modes confused, so the names we know now aren't the ones that ancient authors meant if you're reading an old text about ancient music. Modern Dorian is what the ancients called "Phrygian," for example.

    Also, Wikipedia is your friend.
  12. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
  13. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    They take their names from kingdoms/tribes in ancient Greece. There are some pretty cool stories about how each mode got its name like Lydia being the most desirable place to live so it was given the brightest sounding mode - Lydian whereas Locria was the least desirable place to live so the darkest mode was named Locrian.

    There are few different variants of that sort story around the the names. The truth probably lies somewhere in a few of them but we will never know really. They are some interesting stories though.
  14. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    Or another way of looking at it is
    C Major = C Ionian = D Dorian = E Phrygian = F Lydian = G Mixolydian = A Aeolian = B Locrian
  15. mattbass101


    Apr 4, 2006
    dont' forget all the harmonic and melodic minor modes! that is, if you want to understand jazz
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