Learning The Names Of The Modes

Now that you know where the ionian mode comes from and how to find it, we can go on and learn about the rest of the modes in modal theory. There are seven of them all together, one mode for each of the seven notes in ionian. Their names must be memorized in the proper order.

The seven modes are:

1. Ionian 2. Dorian 3. Phrygian 4. Lydian 5. Mixolydian 6. Aeolian 7. Locrian All seven modes are actually right inside of Ionian because after all, they are only different modes of that one scale. We will learn about the six other music theory modes together by comparing them to Ionian.

Finding The Other Six Modes

I have already mentioned that the other six modes are right there inside Ionian, so you may be wondering where. We have already learned that the "doe, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, doe" thing you learned in grade school was the ionian mode. In this scale using our fictional key of "DOE", the root note or key would be "DOE". So we could call this "DOE Ionian", as it would be the Ionian scale in the key of "DOE".

"Doe Ionian"

Doe, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Doe

As long as this scale is in the key of "doe" it will be ionian (or the major scale). This is because we know the intervals between these notes are W,W,H,W,W,W,H. And anytime we use those intervals in that order we will get the ionian mode, regardless of what key we are in (even if its a made up key like this one).

But what happens if we use all the same notes but start with the "Re" note and end with the next "Re" note?

Now our scale would be:

re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do, re

This would be a completely different scale and we would call it "Re Dorian".

Now you may be asking yourself "if we are using all the same notes as before, why isn't it "re ionian" ?". I will answer that question. Lets think about the intervals that it took to get the sound of the Ionian scale. If the notes are all still the same, then so are their intervals of W,W,H,W,W,W,H. The only problem is that if we are starting on the second note, the intervals are now W,H,W,W,W,H,W.

By starting at the second note we are changing the key of our scale to "Re", and the intervals between the notes will be different. If the intervals are different it will no longer sound like the major scale because it isn't. It is now "Re Dorian". Remember, music notes just go around and around repeating themselves every octave. What makes different scales sound different is their intervals, the space between the notes.

So if we start and stop playing at a different place, the intervals between the notes are now different, and thus we have a different scale. This will become clearer and be more thoroughly explained in coming lessons.

So the 7 modes of this scale would be:

  • "Do" Ionian
  • "Re" Dorian
  • "Mi" Phrygian
  • "Fa" Lydian
  • "So" Mixolydian
  • "La" Aeolian
  • "Ti" Locrian

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