Mode Parent Scale Concept


Books on Modes



This diagram is a simple representation of the parent scale concept with the C Major scale. All of the modes that are derived from the C Major scale have first and last names that are unique in combination.

C Ionian
D Dorian
E Phrygian
F Lydian
G Mixolydian
A Aeolian
B Locrian

All God's children have names. All modal children have names. C Major is the parent scale because when you are playing D Dorian, you are playing the very same notes as C Major. When you are playing E Phrygian, you are playing the very same notes as C Major. When you are playing F Lydian, you are playing the very same notes as C Major. And so it will continue to be as you step through all of the other children of the parent C Major Scale. All of these child modes owe their existence to the hard working C Major scale. D Dorian would not exist without the C Major scale and so forth.


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Of course, the question is, "Why, if I'm playing the same notes do the modes sound different?"
The answer is the whole step / half step pattern changes when you start on a different note within the scale. Please review the diagram below for a visual representation.
All the notes of C Ionian are found within the parent scale of C Major. <—That should be a given.
All the notes of D Dorian are found within the parent scale of C Major.
All the notes of E Phrygian are found within the parent scale of C Major.
The overall tonality of the scale changes when you change the step pattern by beginning on a different tone within the scale.

Whole and Half Step Pattern Changes Within the Modes


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