What are music modes?Musical modes are a type of scale with distinct melodic characteristics. The 7 modes, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian, result from the earliest types of western music. Before we figured out the math for dividing the octave into 12 equal tones, we had to create do by having an imperfect system. Modes were the solution. Instead of just one all-purpose scale that might be transposed into different keys, there have been 7 modes that all had their very own structure. In early music, the modes were used much like how we use keys now. Today, modal music identifies items of music where modes are employed structurally and harmonically instead of traditional functional harmony.
How modes help with songwritingIf you've been writing a whole lot utilising the vanilla major and minor scales, the next song can take advantage of some modal flavour! Each mode has a unique unique colour and mood. Their melodic signatures brings a lot of drama and freshness to your sound. They're easy to learn either. Once you begin experimenting with modes, you'll recognize a lot of the sounds and colour they have to offer.
How to build the modesThe sound of the modes result from their unique constructions. So what are they and how could you remember them? The modes have an order. Ironically, you can use the mnemonic I Don't Particularly Like Modes A Lot to keep in mind it!
The order of musical modes is:
If you've been writing a whole lot utilising the vanilla major and minor scales, the next song can take advantage of some modal flavour! I'll undergo and build each mode from the C major scale and provide an example from music history to assist you understand the potential of every mode in your own songwriting.
How to find any modeSimply count backwards to the major parent scale to ascertain the structure of the mode. Simply count backwards to the major parent scale to ascertain the structure of the mode. As an example, E Aeolian? Aeolian may be the 6th mode. What major scale is E the 6th amount of? Correct, it's G. So E Aeolian is simply the 8-note scale beginning and ending on E with the exact same formula as G-Major. Again, staying sharp along with your key signatures is vital for working with modes. The circle of fifths is a superb partner tool for writing modally. Once you recognize the parent scale method for obtaining the modes, you'll begin to see patterns. This is where one other method for remembering the modes comes into play…
Scale formulasAs I'm sure you've noticed, the modes share a lot of similarities with either the major or minor scale. If you know whether a mode is generally major or minor, you can just remember which tones are altered from the template. This is actually the “scale formula” method for remembering the modes.
Here are the formulas for the church modes.
- Ionian – Major (no altered notes)
- Dorian – minor +raised 6th, lowered 7th
- Phrygian – minor + lowered 2nd, lowered 6th, lowered 7th
- Lydian – Major + raised 4th
- Mixolydian – Major +lowered 7th
- Aeolian – minor + lowered 6th, lowered 7th