What exactly are modes and what are they used for? Well, they are also scales, but they were used mostly in the Middle Ages. However, more modern composers have used modes. For example, the Beatles used the Dorian mode in “Eleanor Rigby” and Claude Debussy used a variety of modes in his piece, “Fetes.”
Up until now you have probably only been aware of one mode, Ionian, which starts on the “first” note of the scale. You know this better as a “major scale”.
However, there are six other modes corresponding to the six other possible starting points.
- Ionian (major)
- Aeolian (minor)
You may also recognize Aeolian as the “natural minor scale”, starting from the 6th note of the key.
Each mode can be recognized by the placement of the half steps within the scale. It is also easier to hear the modes if the listener knows how they sound in relation to the two basic scales, Ionian and Aeolian (major and minor).
|Dorian ||the same as a natural minor with a raised sixth|
|Phrygian ||the same as a natural minor with a lowered second|
|Lydian ||the same as a major scale with a raised fourth|
|Mixolydian ||the same a major scale with a lowered seventh|
|Locrian ||the same a natural minor with a lowered second and fifth (which is the same as Phrygian with a lowered fifth, or can be recognized as a major scale simply starting on the seventh note)|