Modes and Scales (Guitar Lesson)

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Brad Henecke

Modes and Scales

If you are having trouble understanding Brad's lessons pertaining to modes and scales, or if you simply want more information about them, you may find this lesson useful. Brad Henecke explains a different way of comparing modes and scales.

Taught by Brad Henecke in Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke seriesLength: 8:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (08:08) Looking at Modes and Scales In Brad's previous lessons pertaining to the modes of the major scale, he demonstrated how a specific mode can be built from each scale degree of the G major scale. You learned a vertical fretboard pattern for the Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian modes. Brad demonstrated how each of these patterns tie together in relation to the parent key of G major. Each of these modes has either a distinct major, minor, or diminished sound. You learned that a mode that begins with two whole steps has an overall major sound. A mode that begins with a half step then a whole step or vice versa has a distinct minor sound. You also learned why the Locrian mode has a distinct diminished flavor.

In the current lesson, Brad presents the modes from a different angle. He compares four scales that you have learned that are all major in quality. Brad relates all of these scales to the key of C major, in order to determine the individual properties and functionalities of each scale.

Ionian or Major Scale

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for fretboard diagrams of all the scales presented in this lesson. The numbers in circles represent how each scale degree relates to the key signature of C major.

The major scale is the most essential building block used in Western music. Take this time to review the C major scale. It is spelled as follows: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. A numeric value can be applied to each note based on its location within the scale. This is referred to as a "scale degree." Make a note of the corresponding scale degree for each note in the scale. They will be used later in the lesson when other scales are referenced.

C: 1st scale degree
D: 2nd
E: 3rd
F: 4th
G: 5th
A: 6th
B: 7th


In this lesson, Brad relates all scales to the key signature of C major because it contains no sharps or flats. This property of the scale makes it easiest to use for comparison purposes.

The Major Pentatonic Scale

The first scale Brad references is the C major pentatonic scale. He chooses this scale first, because it is easiest for beginning players to remember and apply to a practical, musical context. Take this time to review the pattern and spelling of this scale. Essentially, the major pentatonic scale eliminates notes that cause tension within the major scale. The C major pentatonic scale is spelled as follows: C, D, E, G, A, C. If we analyze these notes in terms of how they relate to the key of C major, we can deduce that the major pentatonic scale consists of scale degrees 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.

The Lydian Mode

The C Lydian mode is identical to the C major scale with one exception. In relation to the C major scale, the Lydian mode features a raised 4th scale degree. This makes the fourth note in the scale F# instead of F natural. Here's a breakdown of the scale degrees contained within C Lydian:

C: 1
D: 2
E: 3
F#: #4
G: 5
A: 6
B: 7


Raising the fourth scale degree has a very specific effect. The note a perfect fourth above the root of a chord has a very dissonant sound. For example, an F natural will sound terrible when played against a C major triad. This is because the F clashes with the third of the chord, E. However, the raised 4th is considered to be a consonant tone when played over a major chord.

The Mixolydian Mode

In comparison to the major scale, the Mixolydian mode features a b7 scale degree. Here are all the scale degrees for this mode:

C: 1
D: 2
E: 3
F: 4
G: 5
A: 6
Bb: b7


Due to the b7 degree, the Mixolydian mode is an ideal choice when playing over dominant chords. A C7 chord is spelled C, E, G, Bb. As you can see, all the notes in this chord are found within the C Mixolydian Mode. On the other hand, the major scale features a natural seventh scale degree. This makes it an ideal choice when playing over a MA7 chord. CMA7 is spelled C, E, G, B. All of these notes are contained within the C major scale.

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rckmsnrckmsn replied

brad can clear this up? the charts indicates the 5th and 8th frets,but the charts when you are playing the scales and modes state to start on the 4th and 5th frets. this is confusing.and also can these be transposed into different keys?

tongtong replied

Brad, you just presented me a new way to look at modes. Don't know where you are leading but I am following.

thewizardthewizard replied

Confusing!

akillianakillian replied

Yes indeed, it is confusing, and apparently Brad is not there to answer anything (sorry Brad, but since 2007 i don't see any answer) I personaly think that they are always explaining mode in the most tricky way.... for me, mode is nothing more than from where you do start your major scale !!! like... Mode 1 : c d e f g a b Mode 2 : d e f g a b c mode 3 : e f g a b c d ...etc... So actually... if you know all your boxes of the C major scale (and of course which note is what related the chord you are playing, root, third, 7th, etc), and move them up or down to match the key in which the succession of chords are in... then you're done... Well, actually i'm not sure that i'm 100% right since i'm not a music teacher, but it seems obvious... is there anybody who agree or deny ??? Maybe we can sort that out together !!!

thewizardthewizard replied

Just wanted to add that ive learned a lot with Brad. He's a really good teacher and good guy!

caliban4caliban4 replied

What chord would you play in the background here in this lesson to hear the different modes?

patsendpatsend replied

Hi Brad, A minor penta and A major penta are the same in your lessons, is it normal?

gabe dgabe d replied

I'm unclear on this: On this chart the "Major Scale Ionian" pattern is the same shape as what we just learned as E Aeolian Mode.... because E is the 6th degree of C. But, why aren't we using the G Ionian shape, sliding the root from the 3rd fret up to the 8th fret?

gabe dgabe d replied

correction I mean to say --...because C is the 6th degree of E--

craigtennantcraigtennant replied

Hey Brad, Great lessons. I have a question. why is it that when you are playing the Cmaj Pentatonic scale, the Cmaj scale and the rest of the modes in this lesson do you start on the fifth fret (shape of Amin Pentatonic) and not on the 8th fret where a a C Pentatonic starts....? confused. thanks

gigantescogigantesco replied

Why some of the notes you worte on the board are with numbers and some of them without?

dash rendardash rendar replied

He's indicating the degrees of the scale, relative to the Ionian (major) mode, for one full octave only.

robearlerobearle replied

Yeah, I could watch nearly all of Brad's lessons again and pick up something new each time, I love it. :)

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

Brad, enjoyed the modes and scales lesson!! always finding it good to go back and review that stuff, and i always learn something there that did'nt stick out to me before! thanks again!!! Great lesson!!!

Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this Phase 2 series Brad Henecke will school you in the art of rock guitar. You will not only learn how to play some of your favorite songs in this series, but you will also learn how to create your own.



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Length: 42:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Your First SongLesson 4

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In this lesson Brad covers some of the more advanced barre chord shapes. He applies these shapes to the song "Hotel California."

Length: 41:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Blues and ScalesLesson 5

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Pentatonic ScaleLesson 11

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Second PatternLesson 12

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Third PatternLesson 14

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The Fourth PatternLesson 16

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The Fifth PatternLesson 18

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Intro to ModesLesson 22

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Phrygian ModeLesson 27

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The Lydian ModeLesson 28

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Brad continues his discussion of the modes. You will learn the Lydian mode in this lesson.

Length: 9:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mixolydian ModeLesson 29

Mixolydian Mode

Brad explains the Mixolydian mode and its practical applications.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Aeolian ModeLesson 30

The Aeolian Mode

Continuing with his modal lessons, Brad Henecke teaches the Aeolian mode.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Locrian ModeLesson 31

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The final lesson in our modal series covers the Locrian mode.

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Modes and ScalesLesson 35

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Brad Henecke provides an alternate way of comparing modes and scales.

Length: 8:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
A Different ViewLesson 36

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Aeolian Mode on One StringLesson 39

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Octave ScalesLesson 40

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Brad Henecke

About Brad Henecke View Full Biography Brad Henecke was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5th of 1963. He has been a fan of music for as long as he & his family can remember. You could always find him running around the farm wailing on his cardboard guitar, pretending to be a member of the rock band KISS. Additional inspiration came during his first concert when he got the chance to see Boston & Sammy Hagar in the early 1970's.

This opened up a whole new world of rock and roll music for him; his parents noticed his growing interest in music and enrolled him into guitar lessons when he was 13.

From there he jumped into two years of lessons at a local music store in Cedar Rapids. After discovering Eddie Van Halen, Brad knew that the guitar would always be a part of his life. He took his love throughout the city as he played as a pit musician & jammed at parties for friends.

This made him thirsty for more. He enrolled classes at Kirkwood Community College & also took lessons from the one & only Craig-Erickson (www.craig-erickson.com).

His love for music landed him a gig opening for Molly Hatchet in Cedar Rapids with a band called "Slap & Tickle". He has also played in the Greeley Stampede show for quite a few years with "True North".

Brad is currently playing in Greeley, Colorado with a rock band titled "Ragged Doll". They play a wide variety of music with an emphasis on classic rock from the 60's to present, with Brad playing electric guitar in the five piece lineup.

He currently jams on his all-time favorite guitar: a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. Beyond guitar, he plays also plays drums & bass guitar. He has also been known to thrash a banjo from time to time. He is still actively playing & passing his 31 years of playing experience on to others (you!).

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