This has probably been asked a lot here but I can't seem to find the question, sorry if I'm repeating it.

I know the definitions of the different modes I just want to incorporate them, being able to play all of them and, perhaps develop some ear while listening to others.

An example, the only difference between F lydian and F lonian is that the first uses B natural and the other uses B flat. That means that if I'm playing a series of chords that don't involve nor B natural nor B flat I really can't tell if I'm playing F lydian or F lonian. I think to make a difference between those modes I have to emphasize which B I'm playing.

I've heard that a common mistake is trying to compose a melody in lydian mode and after listening to it, it turns out it was actually in another mode, say dorian. How to about doing that?

Any tips, exercises, suggestions that I can do to practice each mode?

Thanks in advance!

  • What exactly are you asking? How to work out what the notes are in each mode? What fingers to use? What do you mean by 'degrees'? Please edit your question to bring some clarity.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Sep 26 '14 at 16:05
  • I just realized how much I don't know about the subject but I'm only talking about modern western modes (Lonian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian).
    – Serge
    Sep 26 '14 at 19:22
  • I had a similar problem on guitar, as all the modes kind of begin to sound the same unless you really emphasize the root note. On guitar I would use a drone (open string) and play the scale over that. On piano I would assume if you pedal the root note with one hand, then play the mode with the other hand, you begin to get a better idea of the mode's qualities.
    – charlie
    Sep 27 '14 at 1:03

The main note to emphasise on each mode has to be the 'key note'.As in, for example, D Dorian, the D; in G# Mixolydian, the G#. Those are the 'key centres' for the modes, and everything will gravitate towards that note. The V will not necessarily be a V,as we normally see it. In Locrian, it's going to actually be a flat five, although all the other 6 modes will have a 'perfect fifth'. You probably realise that each mode , when played in a scalar way, starts on a particular note from its parent scale, as in the Lydian of C, starting on F, known as F Lydian, uses only the C scale notes. Thus, if you mean "how can I practise running up and down modes", then it's just the C scale notes, going from F to F.

The question is vague, but maybe what you need to do is find modal pieces - of which there are many - Celtic songs are often Dorian or Mixolydian - and play through those.

  • 1
    "Those notes are the 'key centers'." Be careful when playing some modes - they have very weak tonal centers, so to speak, and if you're not deliberately emphasizing the root of the mode, it's easy to accidentally modulate to an entirely different, more stable mode.
    – Kevin
    Sep 26 '14 at 16:43
  • @Kevin - yes, generally the parent key.
    – Tim
    Sep 26 '14 at 19:59

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