I discovered that if I play a major scale, i.e. Ionian mode, then move through the modes with the same root note in the following order:

  • Ionian
  • Mixolydian
  • Dorian
  • Aolian
  • Phrygian
  • Lochrian

At this point I'd next play the Lydian scale, but starting a semitone lower than the Ionian I started with earlier.

Then I'd finish on the Ionian scale starting a semitone lower than my original scale. I've sort of drifted downwards by a semitone. I've attached the snap showing what I'd play if I started in C major. But applying the same sequence of modes again means I drift down a semitone each time I reach the next Lydian scale.

I really like that each subsequent scale in the sequence of modes has one more flat than its predecessor.

Question is - what's the name of this progression?

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  • Why does C Lydian suddenly have to be Cb Lydian?
    – Tim
    Apr 1 '20 at 20:13
  • Each subsequent line differs from its predecessor in just one pitch. e.g. C Ionian to C Mixolydian - just the B changes to Bb. Later on, C Lochrian changes to Cb Lydian by changing C to Cb. All the other pitches stay the same. Apr 2 '20 at 9:55
  • For completeness, maybe you should start with lydian!
    – awe lotta
    Apr 2 '20 at 16:56
  • 1
    @awelotta Yes for consistency you're absolutely right. When I was framing this question I did consider starting with Lydian but I wanted to start with the most familiar scale possible so people start on a firm footing and only then go somewhere unfamiliar. Rather than starting with Lydian. Apr 3 '20 at 11:35
  • 1
    Notice how you are adding a flat every time ^^ you arranged modes in a circle of 5ths/4ths order, and when you complete the full turn, you end up one semitone higher / lower from the starting note, based on the direction you took.
    – moonwave99
    Apr 5 '20 at 23:20

You have discovered they way I practice scales. If you are playing C mixolydian after playing C maj you are in the Key of F maj. C Dorian is Bb Maj, etc. You are changing key up a 4th each time you change modes like this, and as you discovered the pattern comes back to Ionian but a half step up from where you started. Keep going until you've covered the neck! I usually start on G.

I would not call this a progression but a sequence of key changes, following the circle of 4ths. This is a great way to play through keys on the guitar as it teaches you to stay in place through the change rather than jumping up half the length of the neck.

  • Would you recommend playing melodic/natural minor when you get to Aeolian?
    – awe lotta
    Apr 2 '20 at 16:57
  • Not in this context. When I play through the modes like this I am going through the circle of 4th and I an really in the Major Key. When I play G aeolian I am in Bb Major and want to hear it that way.
    – user50691
    Apr 2 '20 at 18:54

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