Derivative or Relative Modes

Books on Modes




The following diagrams and links will present a variety of information related to musical modes as appropriate for guitar.


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This is an example of the derivative modes as associated with the C Major scale.

The C Major scale is the parent scale of C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian, and B Locrian.

This is an essential concept to grasp.

C Ionian is the C Major scale.
C Ionian is only found in the C Major scale.
D Dorian is only found in the C Major scale.
E Phrygian is only found in the C Major scale.
F Lydian is only found in the C Major scale
G Mixolydian is only found in the C Major scale.
A Aeolian is only found in the C Major scale.
B Locrian is only found in the C Major scale.

The notes are the same but the starting tone position changes with each mode within the C Major scale.



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The following diagrams are intended to illustrate derivative or relative modes. All of the notes for all of the modes are derived directly from the C Major scale. There are no notes for any of the modes that are not found in the C Major scale.

Repetition required:

There are NO notes outside of the C Major scale to be found in any of the derivative / relative modes of C Major.

Repetition End.


The modal flavoring is derived and determined by the selection of the lead note. You can play Ionian by playing the C Major scale from C to C, D Dorian by playing D to D, E Phrygian by playing E to E, and so forth. You can tastefully mix up the sequence of the notes but you are trying to establish the sound and mood produced by emphasizing that tonic or lead note of the mode being played. The selected tonic or lead note and differences in the whole and half step patterns results in the tonal quality of the solo. The black circles indicate the starting tone for the listed mode.

All the diagrams show the same note positioning on the fretboard as this is part and parcel of the derivative or relative modal model.
All notes are found in the C Major scale.