In lesson bite N°1, you learned how to setup the score for the rest of the lesson bites in the series. I like to think of this as setting up the foundation for the score. Going forward, we will be using this file for the rest of the lesson bites and renaming the file as we go.
This tutorial is submitted by Stephen Souza.
Lesson bite N°2
Start off by opening the Diatonic mode method step 1.gpx file that was saved in lesson bite N°1. Before making any changes, save the file as Diatonic mode method step 2.gpx.
In this lesson bite you will learn how to:
- Use a legend I created to interpret the scale degree names and abbreviaétions.
- Use the Guitar Pro 6 scale tool to learn the Ionian scale formula.
- Notate one octave of the C Ionian mode. Note the Ionian mode is more commonly referred to as “the major scale”.
- Name each of the scale degrees using their abbreviations.
- Recognize the characteristic scale degrees of the Ionian mode.
- Apply what you have learned thru examples and practice suggestions.
I’ll start this lesson bite by showing you what the final file should look like.
Note: These same notes can be played on other strings and that this is merely a matter of choice. I’ll be using this position for the other six modes. Feel free to transpose this to another octave if you like.
Notice that the C Ionian mode is notated in the key of C and that there are no sharps or flats. Also notice that the only interval qualities are prefect and major.
I’ll take you step by step through the process but remember the importance of following along. I can’t stress enough the importance of actively participating by following along rather than just reading and being passive. Let’s get started by learning how to read the Ionian mode scale degree legend I put together.
Ionian mode scale degree legend
Here is a legend that I created showing how the scale degrees are spoken and their abbreviation. Note that some will argue that a perfect unison P1 stands for perfect prime, the root, the 1, etc. These are just different ways of saying the same thing. I say tomato, you say toe-motto. I say potato, you say po-totto. It’s all the same difference LOL. As long as there’s a legend to go by there shouldn’t be a problem. This happens quite often in music theory which can lead to confusion and frustration.
Going forward, I’ll include both the abbreviated AND spoken version in the text to help speed up making the association between the two. This may seem redundant at times but it definitely helps being able to recognize, read and speak the scale degrees.
The P stands for perfect and a capital M stands for major. Perfect and major are words used to describe the quality of the scale degree. Sometimes only the numbers are used and the quality is assumed. Also note that the Ionian mode contains only perfect and major scale degrees.
Guitar Pro 6 Scale tool formula
Here is a screen shot taken from the Guitar Pro 6 Scale tool that shows the scale formula for the C Ionian mode. The formula shows the distance between consecutive notes in whole and half steps. The number 1 represents a whole step or two frets between notes. The ½ represents a half step or one fret between notes.
So the formula for the C Ionian mode from left to right is 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½. Can you find an identical pattern here? How about now? 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½. The lower and upper tetra chords emerge from this pattern and are separated by a whole step as shown below. This is the same formula for any Ionian mode no matter which note you decide to uses as the perfect unison P1. The modal formulas will not change, the notes will. This has more to do with music notation and playing in different keys.
Listen closesly to hear the characteristic notes in reference to their location in the tetra chords. Now it’s time to follow my step by step instructions and compare your results to mine.
Notating the Ionian mode and comparing results
Follow these steps and compare your results with the example provided at the end of the steps.
- Click in measure one and set the note value to a quarter note.
- Add the first four notes of the major scale. The first four notes are called the lower tetra chord.
- Go to the second note, the major second M2, then press the letter T to add text. Add the text lower tetra chord.
- In measure two, add the last four measures notes of the major scale. These four notes are called the upper tetra chord.
- Go to the sixth note, the major sixth M6, then press the letter T to add text. Add the text upper tetra chord.
- Open the lyric panel and give an abbreviated name for each of the scale degrees low.
- Save the file again with the updated changes.
Here is what the final file should look like.
The Ionian mode will be used as a reference to compare the other six diatonic modes to. Think of the Ionian mode as being the parent scale if you will.
Notice that there are no sharps or flats in the C Ionian mode, aka “the C major scale”. Also notice that perfect and major are the only scale degree qualites used.
Now let’s take a closer look at the characteristic scale degrees of the Ionian mode.
Characteristic scale degrees
Just like prople having certain characteristics that differntiate each other, so do the scale degrees of modes. Each mode has one or more scale degrees that contribute to the modes mood and character. The Ionian mode has three such scale degrees which are the major third M3, perfect fourth P4 and the major seventh M7.
The major third M3 is responsible for creating the overall major or minor sound. The Ionian mode has a major third M3 which is usually described as having a bright/happy sound compared to the darker/sadder sound a minor third creates.
The perfect fourth P4 can create a sense of resolution or suspense. In the Ionian mode, the perfect fourth P4 creates a sense of resolution when it’s approached by the major third M3. This is also one of the places in the scale where two notes are a ½ step apart. The other place is between the major seventh M7 and the perfect octave P8.
Ex: major third M3 to a perfect fourth P4.
The perfect fourth P4 can also create a sense of suspense when the major third M3 is replaced by the perfect fourth P4 aka sus4. The suspense is released by resolving the perfect fourth P4 to the major third M3.
Ex: perfect fourth P4 to a major third M3.
The major seventh M7 is also known as the leading tone and for good reason. Play the first seven notes of the Ionian mode stopping on the major seventh M7. Stopping on the major seventh M7 creates tension and a yearning to resolve the leading tone to the perfect octave P8. This is the second place in the scale where two notes are a ½ step apart.
Ex: major seventh M7 → perfect octave P8.
Here are some examples to practice recognizing characteristic scale degrees. I’ll provide you with the name of a melody, the sequence of scale degrees, and an analysis. Try to figure out the rhythm of the melody based only on your memory. Here are a few examples to get started.
Melody: Lean on me – the first nine notes
Scale degrees: P1-P1-M2-M3-P4-P4-M4-M3-M2-P1
Analysis: The melody starts on the most stable scale degree, the perfect unison P1, then ascends to the perfect fourth P4. Then the melody then descends to the perfect unison P1. This is a great example that covers the first four notes of the lower tetra chord.
Melody: Happy Birthday – the first six notes
Scale degrees: P5-P5-M6-P5-P8-M7
Analysis: This melody starts on the perfect fifth P5 and creates tension by ending the first phrase on the leading tone which is the major seventh M7. This tension is an example of the major seventh M7 creating a yearning to resolve to the stable scale degree of aperfect octave P8. This melody covers the top four notes of the upper tetra chord.
Melody: Joy to the world – the first eight notes
Scale degrees: P8-M7-M6-P5-P4-M3-M2-P1
Analysis: This melody starts on the perfect octave P8 and descends from the highest note of the upper tetra chord to the perfect unison P1. There is a slight rest at the perfect fifth P5 which is the lowest note of the upper tetra chord. Then the melody descends from the highest note of the lower tetra chord and lands on the home sweet home scale degree the perfect unison P1. This melody covers both the upper and lower tetra chord with a slight rest on the perfect fifth P5 to help distinguish between the two.
Applying what you have learned
Now that you have an understanding of the scale degrees in the Ionian mode to work with, it’s time to apply what you have learned. One way is to use the same method I used above on other simple, short memorable melodies that you know by heart. Pick a short section of a melody, write down the scale degrees and do an analysis with respect to the lower and upper tetra chords just as I did. Stick to using the scale degrees and notes of the C Ionian mode like I did. Try humming or singing the melody and matching the pitch to your humming. What you will find is that most songs have a range of one octave.
One of the benefits of using this method is you will begin recognizing all kinds of melodic fragments. Star Wars, Rocky, Amazing Grace, Love Me Tender, Oh Dannie Boy, Happy Birthday are some examples that come to mind. Again, find simple, short memorable melodies that you know by heart. This way you will not have to refer to the music which could be in a different key. Let your inner ear and mind to guide you along the way. Think of it like driving a vehicle and making adjustments based on your visual feedback. Instead of your eyes, you will be using your ears to guide you.
Play and or sing the C Ionian mode keeping the tetra chords in mind. Most melodic phrases in the Ionian mode start and end on either the prime unison P1, major third M3 or the perfect fifth P5.
This concludes lesson bite N°2. I suggest reviewing everything in this lesson bite at least three times in order to digest and internalize the lesson material. Take your time and repeat this lesson bite until you feel you have digested it. Feel free to reply with any feedback or questions you may have.
See you at the next lesson where I’ll be serving up a bite of the second mode in the key of C which is the D dorian mode. Thanks for reading!