Modes and chord scale relationships
Modes are a way of playing scales starting from a different step in the scale than the first note.
There are seven notes in a major scale yielding seven different modes. These modes can be used to solo over given chord changes. The article on harmonising the major scale described the chord types derived from the major scale. When talking about modes we are using the accompanying scales for each chord type. So using the C major scale..
C Major Scale
We will look at the intervals relative to the root of each scale which will give the flavour and mood of each scale.
The first and default mode is the Ionian mode, C Ionian (sounds like a major scale)
C D E F G A B C
first, major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, major 7th
This is the brightest sounding mode and to employed over a C major 7 chord.
The second mode is the Dorian mode, D Dorian
D E F G A B C D
first, major 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, minor 7th
This is a minor scale to be used over a D minor chord, the II chord in a II V I for example.
Having a major 6th means it still retains some of it's brightness.
The third mode is the Phrygian mode, E Phrygian
E F G A B C D E
first, minor 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, minor 6th, minor 7th
Can be played over a minor chord. Note that it has a minor 2nd which is a semi tone away from the root giving a "Spanish" feeling to the scale.
The fourth mode is the Lydian mode, F Lydian
F G A B C D E F
first, major 2nd, major 3rd, augmented 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, major 7th
This is a major scale. The raised 4th degree gives the scale a more "modern sound" when soloing over a major chord!
The fifth mode is the Mixolydian mode, G Mixolydian
G A B C D E F G
first, major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, minor 7th
This is a major chord but with a minor 7th, giving the the scale a more "bluesy" sound. To be played over dominant 7th chords. This is a great scale to play over the dominant 7th chords of a blues progression to break out of the minor pentatonic and blues scales most beginning guitarists use.
The sixth mode is the Aeolian mode, A Aeolian.
A B C D E F G A
first, major 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, minor 6th, minor 7th
This is called the "natural minor" scale. It is used to solo over minor chords, the minor 6th giving a slightly darker sound than the Dorian mode with the major 6th.
The seventh mode is the Locrian mode, B Locrian
B C D E F G A B
first, minor 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, diminished 5th, minor6th, minor 7th
This is the scale with the most altered notes. In fact, only the 4th degree remains natural whilst all the other notes are flattened. The darkest sounding of the scales to be used over a minor7b5 chord.