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The Major Scale and Its Modes

Here is a table showing the modes derived from a C Major scale. Each Major scale and its relative natural minor scale contains these nine modes. There's an explanation of scale formation and alternate scales further down the page. A Major scale consists of whole-steps (W) and half-steps (H) in the following order: WWHWWWH. A natural minor scale can be formed by starting on the 6th degree of a Major or by combining: WHWWHWW.

 

Key Signatures

Chord Types and Symbols

How to Transpose

Mode Name

Example (Derived From C Major Scale)

Name of Associated Seventh Chord

Chord Example

Ionian (Major Scale)

CDEFGABC

Major seventh

CEGB

Dorian

DEFGABCD

minor seventh

DFAC

Phrygian

EFGABCDE

minor seventh

EGBD

Lydian

FGABCDEF

Major seventh

FACE

Mixolydian

GABCDEFG

Dominant seventh

GBDF

Aeolian (Natural minor)

ABCDEFGA

minor seventh

ACEG

Locrian

BCDEFGAB

half-diminished

BDFA

Major Pentatonic

CDEGAC

Major seventh or Major sixth

CEGB or CEGA

minor Pentatonic

ACDEGA

minor seventh or Dominant (in blues)

ACEG or AC#EG

Below is a table showing the same nine modes using C as the tonic (keynote or first scale degree). It's interesting that the same chord type can harmonize different modes, allowing a musician several scale choices.

Mode Name

Example (Using C as Tonic)

Name of Associated Seventh Chord

Chord Example

Ionian (Major Scale)

CDEFGABC

Major seventh

CEGB

Dorian

CDEbFGABbC

minor seventh

CEbGBb

Phrygian

CDbEbFGAbBbC

minor seventh

CEbGBb

Lydian

CDEF#GABC

Major seventh

CEGB

Mixolydian

CDEFGABbC

Dominant seventh

CEGBb

Aeolian (Natural minor)

CDEbFGAbBbC

minor seventh

CEbGBb

Locrian

CDbEbFGbAbBbC

half-diminished

CEbGbBb

Major Pentatonic

CDEGAC

Major seventh or Major sixth

CEGB or CEGA

minor Pentatonic

CEbFGBbC

minor seventh or Dominant (in blues)

CEbGBb or CEGBb

Other Scales

Scales are usually formed by combining whole-steps and half-steps in an ascending or descending order. Occasionally a minor third (three half-steps) is used, as in the harmonic minor scale or the pentatonic modes. The chromatic scale is composed entirely of half-steps; the whole tone scale uses only whole-steps. The diminished scale alternates whole-steps and half-steps. In most cases the chords associated with the scale are built using scale tones.

Scale Name

Example (Using C as Tonic)

Name of Associated Chord

Chord Example

C Natural minor (Aeolian Mode)

CDEbFGAbBbC

C minor seventh

CEbGBb

C Melodic minor acending (descending form is Natural minor)

CDEbFGABC

C minor sixth or C minor sharp seventh

CEbGA or CEbGB

C Harmonic Minor

CDEbFGAbBC

C minor triad or Cminor sharp seventh

CEbG or CEbGB

C Whole Tone

CDEF#G#A#C (WWWWWW)

Augmented triad

CEG#

C diminished I

CDEbFGbAbABC (WHWHWHWH)

diminished seventh

CEbGbA

C diminished II

CDbEbEGbGABbC (HWHWHWHW)

diminished seventh

CEbGbA

diminished Whole Tone or 'Altered'

CDbEbEGbAbBbC (HWHWWWW)

half-diminished seventh

CEbGbBb

Blues I

CEbFGbGBbC

minor seventh or Dominant

CEbGBb or CEGBb

Blues II

CEbEFGbGABbC

minor seventh or Dominant

CEbGBb or CEGBb

Chromatic ascending

CC#DD#EFF#GG#AA#BC

(depends on context)

Chromatic descending

CBBbAAbGGbFEEbDDbC

(depends on context)

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