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Does anyone know a mnemonic for modes? I am not asking how to remember what they are, Ionian, Dorian...etc..

I am asking about one that will enable me to know what the Dorian note is in any scales. I know them but rely on memory. I am just curious if someone knows of a mnemonic?

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    Are you asking for mnemonic to remember ionian starts on the first note of the major scale, dorian the second, phrygian the third, etc? Jun 7, 2017 at 3:23
  • Or do you want a mnemonic that tells you flat-3, flat-7?
    – ericw31415
    Dec 31, 2017 at 0:52

6 Answers 6

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"I don't particularly like modes a lot" is one, if you like some irony in your life.

Edit: A quick Google search shows tons:

  • I Don't Punch Like Muhammad ALi (two modes are included in ALi)
  • I Don't Play Loud Music After Lunch

And one that's waaaay too complex for me:

I own (Ionian) a house. So I go through my door (Dorian) and I head for my Fridge (Phrygian). Then I open the lid (Lydian). There is quite a mix under the lid (Mixolydian). I find the ale (Aeolian) that I was looking for. Then I lock (locrian) the fridge.

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  • It appears to me that the question is seeking a mnemonic for the tone/semitone construction of the dorian mode Jun 5, 2017 at 21:01
  • Not sure I completely understand the question, but it's worth noting that the non-transposed Dorian and Aeolian modes always start on D and A respectively.
    – Shawn Eary
    Sep 29, 2022 at 18:02
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A mnemonic for the tone/semitone construction of any dorian mode would be: Toot Softly Til Tilly Tells Sal Tartly.

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  • As it happens, the Truncated Dorian (or Trunc-Dor) is the ideal mode for a time-poor world. It says more than the pentatonic scale but it can be practised around 12% more quickly than Real-Dor and has an edgier, 'can't talk now-gotta be going' vibe. It is a mode of The First World, mainly Jun 10, 2017 at 13:02
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Here's the one I learned many years ago:

I Don't Play Like Mr Alan Limbrick.

And if you need to remember which order the 'L's are, I think of Ly-Lo, a bit like lilo (a blow up bed!)

EDIT: oops, I didn't read the question either! Maybe we should ask a separate question and migrate the answers...

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Not sure what you're actually asking. A mnemonic is an aid to remember something, often manifested in a (silly) sentence. Mine for the order of modes, from the major scale notes, is 'I Don't Play Like My Aunty Loo.

But you ask for something to remember what is the Dorian note in any scale. There is no one Dorian note in a scale. There is, though, the set of notes called the Dorian mode, which is centred around the second note of each of the 12 major scales. So having a mnemonic for that would be too complicated. Most of us end up just knowing what the second note of each scale is, and also, importantly, what the component notes of each scale are. Possibly, you ask about how to remember which # or b are in each scale. That's a different question! And that info. is something that ought to be burned into every muso's memory anyway!

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I guess this would be a necropost since it's been inactive for a year & almost 4 y/o, but I stumbled across this while looking for mode mnemonics (ironically) & felt like leaving a response here. From your question to me you're asking "How do I find the root of Dorian in [X] Key/Scale" as opposed to trying to remember the order of modes.

For me personally the way I would approach it is that since Dorian is the 2nd mode of the cycle, it is the major 2nd up from the root of Ionian, or the 2nd note of the Major Key. So for simplicity's sake we're in C Major, the 2nd would be D, & the key sig tells me no #s/bs. Take it we're in A Minor & in this instance Dorian is the (perfect) 4th, which is D again.

So for me I would remember that in Major it's the second note & verify I'm right by plugging for a Major 2nd. In Minor it would be the fourth & I'd verify with a perfect 4th. These are the easiest orientation points for me & after awhile I feel you'd internalize the locations & not need all the extra steps/orientation. Hope this late night, nearly 4 year in-the-making reply is helpful towards the original question. Can't think of a snazzy, catchy lil' ringer to remember it by tho haha

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I think of it as some kind of S-shaped tetris brick. Kind of like this image I made before (although it only shows the top part of the S). I am not sure if this answers the question but it is my mnemonic anyway, I just need to remember which one I start on for the modes.

It shows positions on a fingerboard for three strings tuned in fourths. There is a 3x3 block of whole tones near eachother, and the stretch of 4 whole tones shows the overlap of blocks. The M7 is left of the root (by 4 gridcells in image below; not shown), the M3 is left of the P4 (by 4 gridcells in image below; not shown), this is how chains of blocks that do not overlap are neighbouring eachother. Just play the whole tones starting from some whole tone in increasing order to get a mode of the major scale. enter image description here

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  • Would you add an explanation of how to read this diagram? Jul 8, 2023 at 23:09

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