Music Theory Lesson

Major / Minor Modes

Difficulty: intermediate

Modes can have a major or minor sound, based on the third note in the mode.

Some modes have a major third (3) and are good to use while improvising over a major chord or key. Some modes have a minor third (b3) and are good to use while improvising over a minor chord or key.

Major Modes - Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian

Minor Modes - Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian

Diminished Mode - Locrian

The 7th mode, Locrian, is special in that it has a b3 and b5, which technically makes it not minor but diminished. For the sake of this lesson, relating to major and minor, we will mostly ignore Locrian.

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