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Modes of the Major Scale
by Christopher Sung

What is a Mode?
As you start to develop playing single note lines, scales of often used as a guide for what notes will sound good over a particular chord. In practice, scales belong to a particular key (i.e. a C major scale or an Eb melodic minor scale). So, for a C major scale, you can play the notes:

This collection of notes, played in this fashion, is a mode of the C major scale and is called Ionian. However, you don't necessarily have to play the notes from C to C. You could play them from D to D. In this case, the notes to play are: In this case, this scale is still comprised of notes from the C major scale, but it has a different sound because we started on D instead of C. This scale is also a mode of the C major scale and is called Dorian. So what is a mode? So what are the names of the modes for the C major scale and how are they played: In the example below, listen to each mode as its played against the characteristic chord associated with that mode. Don't worry about why a particular chord is played with that mode. Just concentrate on the sound.


Play The Musical Example

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