Does each mode resolved to their respective roots as modes are to be seen as nothing more than another degree of the same scale/key. Or do they always resolve to the root note of the respective major or minor key? For example, If i begin with the 4th scale degree, the lydian mode of C major would the melody resolve to F or back to C?

2 Answers 2


F would be considered the "root" or tonal center, if you call the piece Lydian. If it resolves to C then it would be an Ionian work.


Most would tend to gravitate towards the modal centre. Dorian, Lydian and Mixolydian certainly do, and obviously Aeolian does,as borne out by many works in natural minor, although sometimes helped by that raised leading note!

Locrian is the sticky one, but there aren't many examples of it, funnily enough. Having said all that, I often feel, in a modal work, that it will eventually end in the mother key (Ionian), but it needs help to stay modal by clever use of cadences and harmony.

  • How is Ionian the "mother key"? Jun 8, 2017 at 20:03
  • I think he's referring to the Ionian mode of that pitch collection. So for D Dorian, E Phrygian, etc., C Ionian would be the "mother key" because it's the same pitch collection.
    – Richard
    Jun 8, 2017 at 21:13
  • @ScottWallace - yes, Richard's correct. Not sure if there's a more apposite or even correct name for it, but all the notes from D Dorian, G Mixolydian, etc. are 'from C Ionian - the major scale notes'. Hence in some pieces, feel as though the key could be that of the mother key.
    – Tim
    Jun 9, 2017 at 8:14
  • I understand this terminology from an historical aspect. But I don't feel that pieces in modes other than Ionian tend to end in Ionian. Perhaps that's because I play a lot of modal music myself. Jun 9, 2017 at 13:37
  • @ScottWallace - I didn't say they tend to end in Ionian, just that they feel (to me at least) that they could, due to the above reason.
    – Tim
    Jun 9, 2017 at 16:37

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