There are four modes in music, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, and Lydian. The Locrian mode is sometimes used, but it is not as common.
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The major and minor modes
There are two main modes in music: the major and minor modes. The major mode is characterized by a happy, bright sound, while the minor mode has a sadder, darker sound. Each mode has its own set of notes, or scale, that it uses. The major scale, for example, includes the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, while the minor scale uses the notes A-B-C-D-E-F-G.
The major and minor pentatonic scales
There are many modes in music, but the two most common ones you’re likely to come across are the major and minor pentatonic scales.
The major pentatonic scale is made up of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes of a major scale. For example, in the key of C, the notes would be C, D, E, G and A. This scale has a bright and happy sound.
The minor pentatonic scale is made up of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th notes of a natural minor scale. For example, in the key of A minor, the notes would be A, C, D, E and G. This scale has a more melancholy sound.
The major and minor blues scales
The major and minor blues scales are the two most commonly used scales in blues music. The major blues scale consists of the notes C, D, E♭, E, G, A, and B. The minor blues scale consists of the notes C, D♭, E♭, E, G, A♭, and B♭.
The major and minor scales
In music, there are two different types of scales: major and minor. The major scale is the more common of the two, and it is the one that most people think of when they think of a “scale.” The major scale has seven notes, which are represented by the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Each note in a major scale has a specific interval (or distance) from the others. For example, in the key of C major, C is the first note, D is the second note (two scale degrees above C), E is the third note (three scale degrees above C), and so on.
The minor scale is less common than the major scale, but it is still used in a lot of music. The minor scale has six notes, which are represented by the letters A, B-flat, C, D-flat, E-flat, and F. (In music theory terms, we would say that the minor scale has a flattened third and a flattened sixth.) Like the major scale, each note in a minor scale has a specific interval (or distance) from the others. For example, in the key of A minor, A is the first note, B-flat is the second note (two scale degrees above A), C is the third note (three scale degrees above A), and so on.
The chromatic scale
Most people are familiar with the major and minor scales, but there are actually many more scales than just those two. One of the most important scales in music is the chromatic scale, which is simply a scale made up of all 12 notes within an octave. This means that, unlike the major and minor scales, there is no tonic note within the chromatic scale.
The whole-tone scale
The whole-tone scale is a musical scale with six notes, all of which are a whole tone (two semitones, or one octave) apart. The concept of the whole-tone scale was first conceived by 19th-century French composer and music theorist Claude Debussy.
The whole-tone scale is structurally identical to the major scale, with the exception that each of its notes is spaced two semitones (a whole tone) apart from its neighboring notes, rather than one semitone (a half step). The pitches in the whole-tone scale are, therefore: C, D, E, F#, G#, and A#. (If we were to use only letter names to refer to the notes of the scale, it would be more accurate to call it the “Bb whole-tone scale,” since Bb is the note that falls in between A# and C.)
Because of its evenly spaced intervals, the whole-tone scale creates a very different sound from other scales. Most notably, it lacks any sense of tonality (or key), since there is no tonic (or starting point) from which the other pitches can be heard as either being in harmony or in conflict. The lack of tonality gives the music a very open and ambiguous sound.
The octatonic scale
The octatonic scale is a musical scale that contains eight notes. It is also known as the double harmonic major scale, because it can be viewed as two overlapping harmonic major scales.
The most common octatonic scale is the one that starts on C and goes up in semitones: C, D, E♭, F, G♭, A♭, B♭, and C. This scale can be used to solo over chord progressions made up of four minor 7th chords (i.e. 7th chords built on the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 7th degrees of a minor scale).
There are other octatonic scales besides the one that starts on C. For example, there is an octatonic scale that starts on B and goes up in semitones: B, C♯, D♯, E♯, F♯, G♯, A♯, and B. This scale can be used to solo over chord progressions made up of four major 7th chords (i.e. 7th chords built on the 1st 3rd 5th and 7th degrees of a major scale).
The pentatonic scale
The Western music system is based on the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. All twelve notes are contained within each octave. Each note is separated from its neighbours by a semitone. A semitone is the distance from one key on a piano to either the black or white key immediately next to it. If you move up or down the scale by semitones you produce different shades of the same note, known as ‘tones’. So, going up a semitone from C gives you C# (or Db), while going down a semitone gives you B (or Cb).
The Modes of Limited Transposition
There are seven modes of limited transposition. This means that when you transpose them, they will only go up or down in pitch by a certain amount. The seven modes are:
These modes can be thought of as different versions of the major and minor scales. For example, the Dorian mode is like a minor scale with a major 6th, and the Phrygian mode is like a minor scale with a flat 2nd.
The Non-diatonic Modes
There are seven different modes in music, each with its own unique flavor. The modes are: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. Each mode has a different emphasis on certain notes of the scale, giving it a different sound.
The Ionian mode is the most familiar of the seven, as it is the basis for major keys in Western music. The Dorian mode is similar to the Ionian, but with a slightly darker sound. The Phrygian mode has a distinctive Spanish flavor and is often used in flamenco music. The Lydian mode is very bright and cheerful sounding, while the Mixolydian mode has a more laid-back feel.
The Aeolian mode is the basis for natural minor scales in Western music, and has a sad or melancholic sound. The Locrian mode is the least used of the seven modes and has a very unstable sound. It is often avoided in Western music altogether.