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modes <--> scales

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Cybi, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. Cybi


    Aug 26, 2002
    Hello! I just wondered if someone could help me with some music theory. I´m having difficulties understanding what moods are about and how these moods, like mixolydian, ionian etc, correlate to scales like maj, min, dim etc. or do moods correlate to scales at all?

    Cheers, Cybi
  2. Stephen S

    Stephen S Member

    Apr 10, 2002
    San Bernardino, CA
    I'm not sure but i believe it is "modes"
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
  4. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    'Modes' is the word you're looking for, as lil_bass_kid says. The concept is fairly simple actually, so here goes...

    Imagine a C major scale. All going well you are imagining C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C etc. etc. Now, imagine the same scale starting and ending on D - i.e. D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D. The resulting scale is very much like D-minor, but has B natural instead of a B flat (major 6th rather than minor 6th) and C natural instead of C# (minor 7th not major 7th). That is called the Dorian mode, is a lot like minor, but is characterised by the major 6th and the minor 7th. A song which you could say is essentially in a minor key, but uses the major 6th rather than the minor 6th and the minor 7th rather than the major 7th is in the Dorian mode.

    The other modes are also based on major scales rooted on different degrees of the scale. Phrygian is like the C major scale played E to E (E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E) and is like E minor, but with the minor 2nd (F) and minor 7th (D). Lydian is F to F and is like F major but with an augmented 5th (B not Bb), Mixolydian is G to G and is like G major but with minor 7th (F not F#), Aeolian is A to A and is like A minor but with minor 7th (G not G#), and Locrian is B to B which is like B minor but with minor 2nd (C not C#), diminished 5th (F not F#), and minor 7th (A not A#). The Ionian mode is the same as major.

    Now, all of these modes can be transposed - a song doesn't have to have D as the root to be in the dorian mode etc. The mode is characterised by the pattern of intervals in the scale - regardless of the what the root note is. E.g. the scale E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D-E is the dorian mode in E - or E Dorian, because it is a minor scale with major 6th (C#) and minor 7th(D). Likewise, the scale C-D-E-F#-G-A-B-C is C Lydian.

    As you'll notice, different modes have a major or minor feel - Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolydian sound major, and Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian and Locrian sound minor. Because all of these modes can be seen as variations on either the major or minor scale, songs which are in one of these modes are often described as being simply in the equivalent major or minor key. E.g. a song in the D Aeolian mode would often just be said to be in D minor. Saying it is D Aeolian is however more specific.

    Hope this helps.

  5. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    FYI moley, "minor" scales typically have a minor 7th :) -- Aeolian is the primary minor. If you give it a major 7th it becomes harmonic minor, which is less common.
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I'll concede that what I was describing was harmonic minor - perhaps I should have qualified that. Though what you're describing is natural minor. Perhaps just using the word 'minor' is a little vague :) I'm not sure that natural minor is more common, necessarily - dominant chords in minor keys are very very often major.
  7. Cybi


    Aug 26, 2002
    Great, thanx! Moley, preciate you taking the time to explain this theory, it helped and verified much...also great site pacman

    Cybi :D

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