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Watch the The Modes online guitar lesson by Robben Ford from Chord Revolution: Foundations

I'm going to talk to you a little bit about modes now, because it seems appropriate and it's going to help us understand a little bit later talking about the dominant seventh chord. The modes are the same major scale, just beginning on a different degree of that major scale. So in the key of G, you play the G major scale starting on the G. In A, it's the G major scale starting on A. A minor, of course. A minor 7, B, which is B minor, G major scale. That's what the modes are. So if I play G major it's very clear to everyone what that is, A minor. Still the G major scale, I'm just starting on the second degree, B minor. Still G major scale, but starting on the third degree of G major, etc. And the same for four, five, six, seven, and the octave.

Now in playing that G major scale against A minor, obviously has a different quality, a different sound to it than playing that same G major scale against the G major triad. We're still playing G major scale, but starting on the second degree, and that is known as the Dorian mode. The G major is known as the Ionian mode. A minor, Dorian mode. B minor is the Phrygian mode. Very different sound, known as the Phrygian mode. Nonetheless, we're playing a G major scale. We're just starting on the third degree. With a C in the root, it's known as the Lydian mode. Still the G major scale. We're simply starting on the fourth degree. Starting on the fifth degree is the Mixolydian mode. This is probably the most utilized mode. Sixth degree is the Aeolian mode. Very different sound, sound all its own. Seventh degree, seventh chord - the seventh chord has a tendency to sound very much like a five chord. Instead of a final E you go back to G. That mode is the Locrian mode.

When you hear Spanish music, or music from other parts of Asia, it's modes. They're playing in a different mode, just starting on a different degree of the major scale. They're playing the same things and it sounds so foreign and out there. They're playing a major scale beginning on a different degree of that scale. It sets up an entirely different mood and feeling. Almost every one of them feels very different than the other, yet still we're just playing major scale. We're still using exactly the same triads that exist, that would be the Lydian mode. I'm playing B minor with a C in the root, but it's still just all notes straight out of the major scale. Just those same triads and we're going to look at that much more deeply in talking about the five chord, the Mixolydian mode. And I think you'll find a lot of very interesting stuff in here, things that are so simple that you already knew perhaps.