What may you see right or wrong with this homemade modes chart? This chart is supposedly read vertically. There are definitely some parts I don’t understand I’m just wondering about if it’s Accuracy. Modes chart

  • Did you make the chart? If not, do you know where the things come from and what they represent? I think a chart like that is one of those things where the act of creating the chart is what makes you learn, but if even after making the chart you feel a need to look up things from it, it's a sign that you didn't actually learn, and you should re-make the chart from scratch. Like a chart for addition, "2 + 2 = 4", "2 + 3 = 5", "3 + 3 = 6" etc. if you need to look up addition results from a chart, it's time to study more. Mar 31, 2020 at 11:23
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    The question is what you see right or wrong with the chart? Mar 31, 2020 at 11:24
  • If you need to use such a chart, it's not good in the long run. However, the content of the chart seems nice, IMO it's a great thing to represent modes as a combination of chords instead as a scale or sequence of notes. "Cmaj7 / Fmaj7" is ok for C ionian, though "Cmaj7 / Dm7" or "Cmaj7 / F6" or "Cmaj7 / Dm6" etc would cover the whole scale. Cmaj7 / Fmaj7 leaves out the D note, though it's not so relevant for defining the mood. Mar 31, 2020 at 11:30
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    Actually, if I ask someone, what does "C Lydian" mean ... if they explain "play C major and D major, and C major is home", it means they've actually understood something about modes. But if they start explaining about scales and "starting from the Nth degree of such and such scale", then most likely they were just forced to recite these theoretic definitions to pass a theory exam, and in practice they don't have any idea of the whole thing. Mar 31, 2020 at 11:41
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    There are 2 ways that helped me understand modes much better than "start the C major scale on a D". One is by looking at the chords (D dorian gives you a minor I chord and a major IV chord) and the other one is the scale-chord combination (the Dorian sound is the sound of a Cmajor scale played over a Dm chord).
    – mkorman
    Mar 31, 2020 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


Interesting chart! Let's see what it shows and what it doesn't.

It shows a few characterstics of each mode:

  • The 1st column summarizes specific intervals to each mode (ie: augmented 4th for Lydian, major 6th for Dorian).
  • Each "cell" shows 2 chords/mode (generally the I and IV chord, but it varies according to the mode, showing the most identifying ones)

It doesn't show

  • All the chords in a given mode (only 2 each)
  • All the intervals in a given mode (only a few characteristic ones)
  • Any modes with an altered fundamental (Bb, Eb, F#, etc.)
  • The relative modes (ie D Dorian = C Ionian)

What's inconsistent?

  • The way in which some intervals are named (-7 for a minor seventh vs b6 for a minor 6th).
  • Some characteristic notes are written twice (ie b5 for Locrian)
  • F is written as "Fa" at least once, and G as "Sol"... looks like the Spanish notation

I don't see anything wrong with the chart (but I must admit I didn't go through each and every cell). As @piperii said in their comment, creating the chart yourself might be of more worth, as a learning exercise, than looking it up.

  • Did you write it yourself? What was your intention when you wrote it?
    – mkorman
    Mar 31, 2020 at 11:40
  • Is there a mode that’s not adequately defined by two chords, and you need three or more? I think a pair of chords is an excellent way to tell what it’s about. Mar 31, 2020 at 12:06
  • With 2 tetrad chords you can define a mode (some notes may not be covered, but there might be no choice left!), but what I meant is that it's not a handy reference that will let you know whether the iii chord of the phrygian mode is minor and whether the 7th is minor or major.
    – mkorman
    Mar 31, 2020 at 12:40

Aside from the misspellings of the modes (they end in “an” not “en”) the information seems pretty accurate. I don’t know your reasoning for the chords on the lower half of each box, some are the 4th, some the 5th, 6th, 2nd, what purpose do they serve? Mkorman mentioned they are characteristic of the modes, maybe that it your reason for including them.

My main problem is the usefulness of such a chart. You have the I chord of the 7 modes in only 7 of 12 keys. Are you wanting to learn diatonic modal harmony? If so I would suggest an approach like this example:


Im7 IIm7 bIIImaj7 IV7 Vm7 VIm7b5 bVIImaj7


Im7 bIIMAJ7 bIII7 IVm7 Vm7b5 bVImaj7 bVIIm7 etc.

You can but don’t need to write out all the chords for each mode in each key (it’s a lot of work), just use the interval relationships to learn how to play them on your instrument.

If you just want to learn the mode scales forget the chords and charts and learn the scales by intervals the same way, 2 examples:

DORIAN 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7

MIXOLYDIAN 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 etc.

I find it is much more important to learn intervallic relationships than just memorizing specific notes and chords because that way you can figure anything out in any key.

Feel free to comment with your goals and intentions.

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