Modes

The C major scale corresponds to the white keys on a piano keyboard, beginning with the note C.

But you can use this same collection of notes to create seven more scales (called modes), simply by starting in a different place.

For example, here is the C major scale again:

but starting on D instead of C gives you the Dorian mode.

Here are the seven modes that can be derived from the pitches of the C major scale:

C Ionian (major) — CDEFGABC
(intervals: Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Whole - Half)

D Dorian — DEFGABCD
(intervals: Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole)

E Phrygian — EFGABCDE
(intervals: Half - Whole - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole)

F Lydian — FGABCDEF
(intervals: Whole - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half)

G Mixolydian — GABCDEFG
(intervals: Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole)

A Aeolian (minor) — ABCDEGFA
(intervals: Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole)

B Locrian — BCDEGFAB
(intervals: Half - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Whole)

The pitches and intervals are always in the same order, but the different starting positions give each mode a unique musical character. You can think of the modes as being "rotations" of each other.

Experiment with different combinations of starting notes and modes:

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