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Watch the Chapter 14: Modes online guitar lesson by Frank Vignola from Modern Method for Guitar

Modes are scales that are built using a common scale. If we start on each note of the major scale and play up to the octave we have our 7 modes based on the major scale. Do not get caught up with the theory, just remember that you are simply playing a major scale starting and ending on intervals other than the root. The important part of learning modes is to recognize the sounds of the different intervals and use them to color your solos by starting and ending on notes other than the root.

Beginning on each note of the major scale and playing up to the octave yields the seven modes or scales. These scales are also related to the chords that are built on the same step of the scale, as covered in the lessons on harmonizing the major scale.

1. Strum a Cmaj7 chord to get the sound of the chord in your ear.

2. In the key of C, play C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C and we have our familiar major scale also called the Ionian mode.

3. Strum a Dm7 chord to get the sound of the chord in your ear.

4. Next, start on the 2nd note, D, and play up to the octave and you have the Dorian mode. D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D. This scale is a minor scale, related to the ii chord, Dm7; it works well when improvising over the ii chord. This scale is also great to use over the I chord because it highlights the 9th, the D in the key of C, which adds nice color to a solo.

5. Strum an Em7 chord to get the sound of the chord in your ear.

6. Starting on the E, or the 3rd note, play the scale up to the octave, E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E, yields the Phrygian mode, perfect for playing over the iii chord, the Em7 in the key of C. This scale is also good to use over the I, and ii chord. Over the ii chord the Phrygian mode highlights the 9th of the chord.

7. Strum an Fmaj7#11 chord to get the sound of the chord in your ear.

8. Starting on the F or the 4th note and playing up to the octave, F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F yields the Lydian mode. This is another major scale that works well over the IV chord. It is also good over the ii and V chords.

9. Strum a G7 chord to get the sound of the chord in your ear.

10. Starting on the 5th note of the scale yields the Mixolydian mode, G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G, which is another major scale that works well over dominant chords or the G7 in the key of C. Many classic jazz musicians that I have played with like to use the Mixolydian mode over the I chord by starting and/or ending a phrase on the 5th.

11. Strum an Am7 chord to get the sound of the chord in your ear.

12. Starting on the 6th note, A, play the scale up to the octave, A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A, which yields the A natural minor scale or the Aeolian mode. This scale works well over the vi chord or any minor chord. It is also good over the ii chord (the Mixolydian mode of the Dorian) the IV and I chord.

13. Strum a Bm7-5 chord to get the sound of the chord in your ear.

14. Starting on the 7th note of the major scale B, play the scale up to the octave, B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B, which yields the Locrian mode. This scale works well over the vii chord and is also good over the I chord because it highlights the major 7th interval.

15. The 7 modes of the major scale and the corresponding chords are:

* Cmaj7 is the I chord or the root; the related mode is the major scale also referred to as the Ionian

* Dm7 is the ii chord; the related scale is the Dorian

* Em7 the iii chord; the related scale is the Phrygian

* Fmaj7 the IV chord; the related mode is the Lydian

* G7 the V chord or the dominant; the related mode is the Mixolydian

* Am7 the vi chord; the related mode is the Aeolian

* Bmin7-5 the vii chord or the half diminished; the related mode is the Locrian

Vertical:

16. We can approach modes the same way we approached the many ways to play the major scale. Play a one-octave scale beginning with your 1st finger hunting down the notes and coming up with logical fingerings.

17. Next, fret the same note with your 2nd finger and repeat the exercise.

18. Next, start with your 3rd finger and play another one octave scale.

19. Finally, start with your 4th finger and play another variation of the scale.

20. Use this same approach with every mode in the key of C.

21. Play this lesson in other keys, with the goal of playing in all 12 keys.

Horizontal:

22. Play the 7 modes of the C major scale, ascending and descending on each of the 6 strings, one at a time, beginning with the root of the mode.

23. Combine horizontal scales with vertical using the same approach we took with the major scales. That is, playing horizontally and choosing different notes to move vertically to the next string.

24. Play this lesson in other keys, with the goal of playing in all 12 keys.