Music Scale Modes for Piano

What are music scale modes; well a mode of C Major would be any scale that uses the same notes as C, so if you know the C major scale you already know the 7 modes.



Let’s start from the first one which is Ionian, just play the C major scale as normal going from C to C, then comes Dorian the 2nd mode which goes from D to D, make sure you still use all the white notes. The 3rd mode Phrygian goes from (yep that’s right) the 3rd note of C major which is E.

You keep going through the music scale modes, the 4th one is Lydian, it goes from F to F, the 5th one is Mixolydian, it goes from G to G, the 6th one is Aeolian, it goes from A to A then the last one is Locrian which goes from B to B.

Yes I know they have very strange names but that’s just the way it is with music, it’s nice to know all the names and be able to string them off when you’re speaking to someone, if someone says to you “what are these things called modes” and then you say back to them “well there are 7 and they are Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian” it’s great to see the look on their face.

But really you can just think of the music scale modes as being the 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th and 7th modes of the major scale which is what they are. The only reason they sound different and are different is because they’re starting and ending on a different note, or in the case of a song, starting and ending on a different chord.






OK so now to try some of them out, most of the songs you’ve played are probably in the Ionian mode so we’ll start with Aeolian which is probably the second most popular one, play with your Left hand an A minor chord, then a G major chord and go back and forth, now start putting some notes in with your right hand, first start on an A note, you should hear that it sounds minor.

Some of the music scale modes will sound minor and some will sound major according to what their corresponding chord is, so in this case the 6th mode (which is A) sounds minor because the 6th chord of C is A minor, now if you play D minor with your left hand then go to C and keep alternating, then play some notes in your right hand starting and ending on the D note.

You should notice that it still sounds minor but it should sound a little different because you’re starting and ending on the D note, now I want you to go through all the music scale modes and listen for the differences; as you get to know them you’ll find that you’ll be able to hear the difference faster and more precisely, and as you get better at stringing off those modes when talking to people, you’ll be able to get funnier looks on peoples faces.

Here is a course with a great way of learning scales and keys that's fun too.



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