Intro to the Greek Modes

Started by Rusty the Scoob, November 10, 2010, 07:25:56 AM

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Rusty the Scoob

A lot of people haven't gotten the chance to study the Greek Modes.  They can seem complicated, but that's only because there are so many different ways to look at them IMHO.  By request on another board I made a video explaining them in two different ways:

Here's a companion chart that I typed up that you can print out and follow along. and here's the text from it:

Intro to the Greek Modes
by Dan Crea (aka Rusty the Scoob)

There are seven different scales that we know of as the Greek Modes, including the familiar Major and Minor scales. They can be looked at in several different ways - I'm going to walk you through them in two different ways:

First - they can be looked at as Modes of one particular scale - in this case modes of C major. A mode of a scale is generally defined as starting and stopping the scale on different scale degrees than the usual tonic. In other words, we'll go through all the modes in the same Key Signature as C Major - no sharps or flats. Those of you following along on keyboard will have an especially easy time - all you have to do is play each scale on the white keys only.

This gives us:

C Major (Ionian): C D E F G A B C

D Dorian: D E F G A B C D

E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E

F Lydian: F G A B C D E F

G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G

A Minor (Aeolian): A B C D E F G A

B Locrian: B C D E F G A B

They can also be looked at as alterations of a scale built on a given tonic. (a Tonic is just the name we give the note that the scale begins and ends on) In this case I'll use C Major as the starting point again, but this time I'll build the scales all on C as the common tonic.

I'm going to go through them in order from brightest-sounding to darkest-sounding. Each time I will subtract a sharp (#) or add a flat (b) to the key signature.

C Lydian - one sharp: C D E F# G A B C

C Major (Ionian) - no sharps or flats: C D E F G A B C

C Mixolydian - one flat: C D E F G A Bb C

C Dorian - two flats: C D Eb F G A Bb C

C Minor (Aeolian) - three flats: C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

C Phrygian - four flats: C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C

C Locrian - five flats: C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C

If you play through these, you'll see that they sound increasingly dark and evil-sounding.

Have fun!
Phishhead playing Phil


I'm at work right now so this is all Greek to me (har har har)
But when I get home I will be going through all this on my guitar.

Booyah, thanks man!
Current Rig:
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