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Demystifying the Modes

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

In music, a mode is a scale that has certain melodic and harmonic characteristics based on one starting note to the next. These scales go back to Ancient Greek times and are named accordingly:

Ionian

Dorian

Phrygian

Lydian

Mixolydian

Aeolian

Locrian


There are TWO ways to conceive the modes; Relative and Parallel.


The Relative way is when you relate the mode back to its mother scale.

For example, D Dorian (D E F G A B C D) is the 2nd Mode of C Major (notice all the natural notes!)


The Parallel way is when you relate the mode to its parallel major scale.

For example, D Dorian has a b3 and b7 compared to a D Major Scale. Here, we're lowering F# to F and C# to C.


In this lesson, we'll take a look at the Relative approach. The Parallel approach will be featured in the next blog/Ed's Shed.




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