This is the first of two lessons covering the popular topic of Modes. Part 2 of the lesson coming next week.

Modes Of The Major Scale in One Position

These patterns are all played in a single C major shape at the 8th fret

Mode 1 – Ionian
Mode 2 – Dorian
Mode 3 – Phrygian
Mode 4 – Lydian
Mode 5 – Mixolydian
Mode 6 – Aeolian
Mode 7 – Locrian

Modes Of The Major Scale

A string Tonic

Modes Of The G Major Scale

E string Tonic


Modes Of The Major Scale

In isolation on C Root

Similarity Between Modes

Major Type Scales:

C Major – C D E F G A B – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
C Lydian – C D E F# G A B – 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
C Mixolydian – C D E F G A Bb – 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7

Minor Type Scales:

C Natural Minor – C D Eb F G Ab Bb – 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
C Dorian – C D Eb F G A Bb – 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
C Phrygian – C Db Eb F G Ab Bb – 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
C Aeolian (same as Natural Minor) – C D Eb F G Ab Bb – 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
C Locrian – C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb – 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

Chords Built From Modes

Relationship between Modes and Chords within a Major Key

Riff Examples

Characteristic Scale Steps

Dorian – 6
Phrygian – b2
Lydian – #4
Mixolydian – b7
Aeolian – b6
Locrian – b2, b5

Difference between Dorian, Aeolian, Phrygian

Each scale shares a Cm7 root chord: C Eb G Bb. The 2nd and 6th degrees are the differentiating factors. This is due to the characteristic scale steps.


1. Create 5 riffs for each mode from any root note in any feel or tempo
2. Create a melody for each mode. Any number of bars. Try using the riffs or a backing track for inspiration

Key Signatures

Method 1: Use the parent major scale. Eg. D Dorian uses C major key signature. No need for accidentals.
Method 2: Use the closest major or minor scale to the mode. Eg. D Dorian uses D minor key signature and use Bb accidental where necessary

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