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Lyle Ronglien >> Understanding Modes >>

Understanding The Modes - part 2

sample riffs 2

Lyle: In lesson part 1 you learned all the modes using the E note as your root, or starting note. In theory, you were changing keys each time you went to a new mode. The purpose of part 1 was to see and hear the difference of the Modes compared to each other. In this lesson, you'll learn a different approach to using the modes. The Modes you'll be working with in this lesson will be directly related to the key of G. Modes are scales that are "inside" the major scale. If you took a major scale but started on the 2nd note and played 1 octave higher (to the 9th) you would have the Dorian mode or the 2nd mode. Take a look at this mode chart. You'll see that each mode starts off the next interval of the major scale.

chart 1

Lyle: You're still playing the same notes of the major scale, just in a different order, which gives you a different sound. The shift of whole-steps and half-steps have changed when you started on the 2nd resulting in a minor type of scale.

Lyle: The purpose of learning and using modes are: 1. Applying the appropriate scale over chords, 2. Helping you to find other places on the neck to play, 3. Forcing different tonalities between the maj and min modes. We'll learn patterns and listen to examples in this lesson. Here's a jam track for you to use:

Looping Sound Clip 1

Lyle: This is in the key of G. Here's the chords for the jam track:

Lyle: There are 7 modes you can use for this jam in G, here's the first mode:

Lyle: The Ionian - it's a major scale! Here's a solo made up from this pattern:

Lyle: Here's a video of that Ionian solo:

Ionian solo

Lyle: The next mode is the Dorian minor based of the 2nd note in the G major scale:

Lyle: Here's a solo using the A Dorian minor mode:

Lyle: Next is the Phrygian minor, from the 3rd note in the G major scale:

Lyle: Now you're up at the 7th fret position playing a pattern that still is in the key of G! Here's a solo using this pattern:

Lyle: Next is the 4th mode, Lydian:

Lyle: The C Lydian is like playing from C to C inside the G major scale. Here's a solo using this pattern:

Lyle: So many times I get students asking how to "bust out' from using the same scales they always seem to use. Most people learn the pentatonic scales and end up just using them. With modes you can get away from that.

Lyle: The 5th mode is the Mixolydian, starting on D in the G major scale and going up an octave.

Lyle: The D Mixolydian is the type of mode you could play over a D7 chord. Here's a solo with this pattern at the 10th fret:

Lyle: Notice how each one of these mode patterns gives you a new place on the neck to play. You're still using the same notes each time, but the starting and ending points are different, giving your sound and fingers new places to explore. Next is the E Aeolian minor based of the 6th note in the major scale:

Lyle: The Aeolian minor is also called the "relative minor". Other names are: natural or pure minor. Here's a solo using this pattern at the 12th fret:

Lyle: The last mode is the Locrian minor. It starts on the 7th or last note of the major scale:

Lyle: Here's a solo using this pattern:

Lyle: What you've just learned is the 7 modes in the key of G major and solos made from each basic finger pattern. Notice how it moved you up the neck? We started at the 3rd fret and worked our way up. Each mode gave us a new place to play on the neck and they were all related to the key we were in.

Frank: Does it matter which mode we use during the chord structure other than feel?

Lyle: It doesn't matter! They all are related to the G major scale! Imagine using only the minor pentatonic scale to solo with over this jam? It would start sounding predictable.

Lyle: Look at this pattern on two strings, it's all the notes from the modes we just covered on just the 1st and 2nd strings:

Lyle: Here's a solo using each mode, 1 at a time, during each measure:

Lyle: Here's a video clip of this solo:

2 string solo

Lyle: Take your time when trying to understand the modes. It takes a few tries and then one day, you'll see the light! Next lesson I'll use more examples of the modes and where and when to use them.

Lyle: Let's take a break for now. If you would like further study on this topic or any other topic, email me at for info on how you can get your own customized guitar lessons like this using Riff Interactive technology. Your private lessons can be downloaded to your pc for anytime, anywhere study. I can even teach you how to play your favorite songs! Thanks and see you at the next lesson. - Lyle


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