I. Intervals

II. Scale Degrees

III. Scales and Keys

IV. Modes

V. Intro to Modulations

VI. Modulations of Aeolian and Ionian

VII. Other Modulations and Ethnic Scales

VIII. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 Tone Scales

 

 

Part IV: Modes

Not only did the Greeks work out equal temperament and much information on vibrations of string instruments, they also started the mode system which developed into the church modes used commonly in church. See the lesson on temperament for further information on the development of this aspect.

 

A mode is no more than a fancier name for a scale. In fact it really is just a scale. For example, recall that C major is also referred to as C Ionian, which was the Greek name for the scale. C major is:

 

  2   2   1   2   2   2   1

C ^ D ^ E ^ F ^ G ^ A ^ B ^ C

 

So instead of starting on C, letís start on D and see what happens.

 

  2   1   2   2   2   1   2

D ^ E ^ F ^ G ^ A ^ B ^ C ^ D

 

Well it looks like we have a new scale donít we? Itís definitely not major, you can tell from the sound of the scale. And why isnít it major by definition? You should know why already, itís because it doesnít follow the pattern 2212221. Since you started on another note, the 2 at the beginning of the pattern simply got bumped to the end, yielding 2122212. We now have the second mode of the Ionian system (Ionian or major being the first mode), the Dorian mode (or D Dorian to be more specific, since the root note is D).

 

Remember the circle of fifths/fourths? The same idea can be applied, going up and down in fifths to get all twelve keys. So now we have 24 scales, twelve for each key of major (Ionian) and twelve for each key of Dorian.

 

WellÖthere must be more modes because there are still other tones in the scale. Letís start on E:

 

   1   2   2   2   1   2   2

 E ^ F ^ G ^ A ^ B ^ C ^ D ^ E

 

Another scale...this is E Phrygian. Phrygian is the third mode of the Ionian system. Again, the circle of fifths/fourths can be applied again here to achieve the Phrygian mode in all 12 keys. Notice that like before, the step pattern is just a shifted version of the previous mode. Dorian was 2122212. So bring the 2 in the front to the end and you get 1222122.

 

Now that you have a good idea about the workings of modes, we can compile the chart to show the other modes.
 

Mode

Step Pattern

Scale

C Ionian (Major)

2212221

C D E F G A B C

D Dorian

2122212

D E F G A B C D

E Phrygian

1222122

E F G A B C D E

F Lydian

2221221

F G A B C D E F

G Mixolydian

2212212

G A B C D E F G

A Aeolian (Natural Minor)

2122122

A B C D E F G A

B Locrian

1221222

B C D E F G A B

 

So for each of the 7 modes, they are twelve keys they can be represented in. Those keys are called the natural keys because they have no sharps or flats. The others will of course have sharps and flats.

 

Those who know a little about music will have learned about minor before. Minor is just a mode of major and we will go into minor in the lesson following the next lesson. Originally I had placed a chart below which covered all 84 scales that can be generated in the 12 keys of the 7 modes (12*7 = 84) but it's rather useless to keep here and I have instead put it in references.