I've been looking at the CAGED system to learn to play movable scales on the guitar.

As part of this I've tried to draw the patterns myself, and in the process I noticed that if you look at two consecutive strings as a pair, there are five sub-patterns within the five CAGED scale diagrams. So each scale diagram can be described with three sub-patterns. See attached picture below. I've marked the two string patterns I, II, III, IV, and V. In some cases the patterns have to be shifted one fret up the neck, and I've marked these with '>'. The solfege note names are the same for all the subpatterns, which is a good help for remembering their relation the the scale.

I've not read anything about this before, but do these patterns within the CAGED system have any name, or is there some literature on this?

CAGED sub-patterns.

1 Answer 1


The're just the first 5-6 notes of some of the mode of a major scale which isn't a surprise since the patterns for the modes themselves come from shifting where you start the major scale pattern.

  • I is the first 6 notes of the Phyghian mode
  • II is the first 5 notes of the Mixolydian mode
  • III is the first 6 notes of the Aeoleian mode (or minor scale)
  • IV is the first 6 notes of the Locrian mode
  • V is the first 5 notes of the Dorian mode

Also in general, try not to use Roman Numerals to denote ideas in music as they are already use widely in Roman Numeral Analysis and to mark positions in classical guitar music.


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