What do the modes do?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Gunnar Þór, Jan 13, 2002.

  1. I remember seeing a thread which explained this a while back but the search for it comes up blank. What I mean is how the modes sound, Ionian (Major) is happy, Aeolian (Minor) is melancholic, this I know but what about Dorian, Lochrian, and all the rest?
  2. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Well, I've always tended to group the modes into three "camps":

    Major: Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian

    Minor: Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian

    Diminished/m7b5: Locrian

    Then I work from there to be more specific:

    Ionian sounds major, kinda plain, but good. Lydian is a "brighter" major, because of the raised 4th. Mixolydian is a "darker" major because of the lowered 7th.

    Aeolian is the natural minor scale, and like Ionian, it can be kind of plain sounding. Dorian is a brighter sounding minor, with a raised 6th; Phrygian is interesting because the lowered 2nd gives it an "Arabic" feel.

    Locrian is it's own special thing, minor, but more than minor because of the lowered 5th degree.

    I will also relate each mode to a chord built on it:

    Ionian: maj13
    Dorian: min7#13
    Phrygian: min7 b9 b13
    Lydian: maj7#11
    Mixolydian: (dominant)7
    Aeolian: min7 b13
    Locrian: min7 b5 b9 b13

    I don't know if that helps any, but I hear chords at "flavors", and relate modes to them.