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. 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.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
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