Mode Finger Patterns

Because of their INTERVAL makeup, MODES are highly predicable in how they fall on the guitar fretboard. Find the ROOT note and play the pattern (or just a piece of it). It’s just that simple. The trick is understanding how the various MODES connect (via shared notes) and when to play them. For that, there’s simply no substitute for a looper and good ‘ol fashioned practice.

The following MODE patterns pertain to PARALLEL MODES.

NOTE: In the following graphics, R stands for the ROOT note of the MODE/SCALE and is always the UNISON INTERVAL or P1. Although somewhat unconventional, I consider playing UP the neck (from NUT towards BRIDGE) as being vertical and ACROSS the neck as horizontal.

It’s also important to understand that when you play vertically UP the neck that you’re going to have to move or slide at least 1 finger. In many cases, you’re trying to cover 5 notes on a single string with 4 fingers. Something’s got to move! There are many schools of thought on the best technique for this but I personally feel you should simply find the way that works for you and STICK WITH IT! If you slide with your ring finger on the vertical version of DORIAN, then do it the same EVERY TIME.

Consistent practice is the key to getting better – quickly!

IONIAN MODE (1)

Ionian mode is a MAJOR mode and considered the first MODE. It you play the following scale starting on the ROOT note of any MAJOR KEY, you’re basically playing the IONIAN mode. It is the most common of all modes and works with virtually all MAJOR and DOMINANT chord types.

ionian_horizontal

Type: MAJOR
Scale Degrees: I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii°, I
Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, M2, m1, M2, M2, M2, m1 (R2212221)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, M3, P4, P5, M6, M7, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12
Mood: with 0 sharps and 0 flats it’s the 2nd brightest after LYDIAN

DORIAN MODE (2)

Dorian is considered a minor mode and works with any minor scale degree but works especially well when played over CHORDS originating from the SUPERTONIC (II) scale degree. Try playing Dm7 chord and then practice this pattern over top of it with D as the root note..

dorian_horizontal

Type: minor
Scale Degrees: i, ii, ♭III, IV, v, vi°, ♭VII, i
Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, m1, M2, M2, M2, m1, M2 (R2122212)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, m3, P4, P5, M6, m7, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12
Mood: Fairly dark (2 flats)

PHRYGIAN MODE (3)

This mode is considered a minor mode and works well with any minor scale degree but works especially well with CHORDS originating from the MEDIANT (III) scale degree.

phrygian_horizontal

Type: Minor
Scale Degrees: i, ♭II, ♭III, iv, v°, ♭VI, ♭vii, i
Stacked Intervals: P1, m2, M2, M2, M2, m1, M2, M2 (R1222122)
Rooted Intervals: P1, m2, m3, P4, P5, m6, m7, P8
Integer: 0, 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12
Mood: with 4 flats, it’s the 2nd darkest mode after LOCRIAN

LYDIAN MODE (4)

This mode is considered a MAJOR mode and works well with CHORDS originating from the SUB-DOMINANT (IV) scale degree. With a single sharp and no flats, this is considered the brightest/happiest mode.

lydian_horizontal

Type: MAJOR
Scale Degrees: I, II, iii, #iv°, V, vi, vii, I
Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, M2, M2, m2, M2, M2, m2 (R2221221)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, M3, A4, P5, M6, M7, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12
Mood: brightest of all the modes (1 sharp, no flats)

MIXOLYDIAN MODE (5)

This mode is considered a MAJOR MODE and works well with CHORDS originating from the DOMINANT (V) scale degree. This MODE is also sometimes referred to as a DOMINANT scale.

mixolydian_horizontal

Type: MAJOR
Scale Degrees: I, ii, iii°, IV, v, vi, ♭VII, I
Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, M2, m2, M2, M2, m2, M2 (R2212212)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, M3, P4, P5, M6, m7, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12
Mood: with a single flat, it’s the 3rd brightest after LYDIAN and IONIAN

AEOLIAN MODE (6)

This mode is considered a minor mode and is the RELATIVE minor MODE of the MAJOR scale. It works well with CHORDS originating on the SUB-MEDIANT (VI) scale degree.

aeolian_horizontal

Type: Minor
Scale Degrees: i, ii°, ♭III, iv, v, ♭VI, ♭VII, i
Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, m1, M2, M2, m1, M2, M2 (R2122122)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, m3, P4, P5, m6, m7, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12
Mood: Very dark (3 flats)

LOCRIAN MODE (7)

Locrian is considered a diminished MODE. It is the least consonant of all the modes and is normally used in jazz. It is unique in that it is the only MAJOR MODE that starts on a diminished scale degree.

locrian_horizontal

Type: diminished
Scale Degrees: i°, ♭ii, ♭III, IV, ♭v, ♭vi, ♭VII, i°
Stacked Intervals: P1, m2, M2, M2, m2, M2, M2, M2 (R1221222)
Rooted Intervals: P1, m2, m3, P4, A4, m6, m7, P8
Integer; 0, 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12
Mood: Sinister, foreboding (5 flats, starts on diminished scale degree)