Tip: Practicing Modes (Part 3)

We’re going to continue with our mode study in this issue. We’ve been looking specifically at how to convey the C Ionian or C major sound. So far, we’ve achieved that sound through arpeggios and chords. Let’s look at different ways of using scales to convey C major/C Ionian.

As usual, we work this out at position V, but remember to practice in all positions. Here’s your basic C Ionian sound in scale form.

Basic C Ionian scale

Notice when you play this that the second time you hit a C note, it’s on the off beat. Generally, when you’re thinking in terms of modes, you want the root of the mode, C in this case, to be on the beat, not off it. You also want notes 3 and 5 of the mode on the beat, in this case E, and G. Putting the important notes of a mode on the beat ensures the mode’s mood doesn’t get diluted. But, because we’re so used to hearing the C major scale played straight up and down, we’re not fully hit with the mood. Toward restoring the mood of the C Ionian mode, try this alternative take on the scale:

Alternate take on C Ionian mode

The next time out, we’ll play through other ways of using a scale to produce the C Ionian sound.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2010 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – March 1, 2009 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.