Watch the Week 6: Ionian #5 | Introduction online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Modal Mother Lode Alpha
The Ionian #5 Mode
The Ionian #5 mode brings in the harmonic minor modal system to the Mother Mother Lode scene with this scale built from the b3rd degree. While that doesn't make it "the giver of life" that it's Ionian brethren is to all that's going on here, it is a mode that returns us to a single alteration and continues the double tritone thing first introduced in Lydian dominant. It also gives us our first look into a harmonic minor signature interval - the 1-1/2 step distance found in all the modes of this family. It's almost pure with an augmented twist and it goes like this:
1 2 3 4 #5 6 7
It is that 1-1/2 interval that immediately grabs your attention when playing any of the harmonic minor modes and not just because of what it sounds like, but also what it takes to play it. If you've only dealt with diatonic modes thus far you'll find all sorts of new fingering schemes coming at you within melodic minor and now harmonic minor modes. The Ionian #5 scale is a good one to start with since the 1-1/2 interval is in a spot between 4th and #5th degrees and doesn't cause that music trouble. Well...you'll see!
The Rock Lick
Once again you'll have some fingering changes to consider with Ionian #5, just not as drastic like you just experienced in Lydian augmented (who knew taking out just a #4 would make such a difference!). Welcoming the return of a natural 4th to the fold you can more easily flow into the 2nd-to-3rd degree bend in bar 3 - hold off on those rakes! At the close of this rock lick you'll have a Cmaj7#5/E to contend with, which is basically the Cmaj7sus#4#5/F# you just played in Lydian augmented with the lowest note on the 4th string lowered a whole step.
The Funk Vamp
Double tritones without the sneaky diminished 4ths is what is coming at you in the Ionian #5 funk vamp. But, don't take your guard down just yet - the fingerings needed here are fairly difficult so mentally prep yourself for the challenge. Again, take it slow and build. The ending chord is a big-sounding Cmaj7#5 that rings for days so you can walk away fully cultured in Ionian #5-ness.
The Blues Solo
Ionian #5 continues to exploit the established love affair between the major 3rd and augmented 5th scale degrees, but with slightly different phrasing ideas. While this solo makes a returns to a horizontal soloing approach keep on your toes when you hit the V chord - it's a bit tricky, but worth the effort!