Guitar Modes & Diatonic Theory


This lesson talks about the major scale, its modes, what modes are in the first place, establishing major and minor mode tonality, as well as the darkness and brightness of each mode.

Every mode has its own tonality — major or minor, with the exception of the Locrian. Just like the Locrian does not establish a major or minor tonality, it does not establish a major or minor arpeggio either. The Locrian, the 7th note of the major scale, is finished in tonality, so it establishes both finished scale tonality, and a diminished arpeggio.

Here are the modes of the major scale:

I — Ionian (aka The major scale)
ii — Dorian
iii — Phrygian
IV — Lydian
V — Mixolydian
vi — Aeolian (aka The minor scale)
vii — Locrian

Below you can see which tonality each mode establishes.

I — Major
ii — Minor
iii. Minor
IV — Major
V — Major
vi — Minor
vii — Diminished

Each mode has the happiness or sadness that you're looking for.
… but they've also got their own color, all sitting on the palette that you're using to paint your picture (song).

Once you've learned all of the modes you'll discover a completely new world of tonality ideas. What I mean is that once you've practiced these, you'll probably think to yourself, 'wow, I did not even know that kind of sound exhausted!'. This is a common response to learning the modes. I'm positive you'll have the same kind of reaction!

Jared Leo