7 Modes of the Major Scale: Notes & Formulas for Modal Scales

    🤹‍♂️ An easy reference for the scales in the 7 modes of the major scale: Ionian (major), Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (minor) and Locrian. You'll notice that they are organized by fifths, as with the circle of fifths, to help visualize the relationship between keys.

    You might like this chart that illustrates the mode relationships to the major scale.

    Ionian Mode

    1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

    The ionian mode is the same as the major scale. In other words, it's the major scale, unmodified.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii° I
    C D E F G A B C
    G A B C D E F♯ G
    D E F♯ G A B C♯ D
    A B C♯ D E F♯ G♯ A
    E F♯ G♯ A B C♯ D♯ E
    B C♯ D♯ E F♯ G♯ A♯ B
    F♯ G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯ E♯ F♯
    D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭ B♭ C D♭
    A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭ F G A♭
    E♭ F G A♭ B♭ C D E♭
    B♭ C D E♭ F G A B♭
    F G A B♭ C D E F

    Dorian Mode

    1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7

    minor sounding; Smooth/Jazzy

    From the major scale, the dorian mode is created by flattening the 3rd and flattening the 7th. Or, just like the natural minor scale, but with a raised 6th scale degree.

    i ii III IV v vi° VII i
    C D E♭ F G A B♭ C
    G A B♭ C D E F G
    D E F G A B C D
    A B C D E F♯ G A
    E F♯ G A B C♯ D E
    B C♯ D E F♯ G♯ A B
    F♯ G♯ A B C♯ D♯ E F♯
    D♭ E♭ F♭ G♭ A♭ B♭ C♭ D♭
    A♭ B♭ C♭ D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭
    E♭ F G♭ A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭
    B♭ C D♭ E♭ F G A♭ B♭
    F G A♭ B♭ C D E♭ F

    → full Dorian mode reference


    Phrygian Mode

    1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7

    minor sounding; Eastern/Spanish/Latin

    From the major scale, the phrygian mode is created by flattening the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th. Or, just like the natural minor scale, but with a flattening 2nd scale degree.

    i II III iv VI vii i
    C D♭ E♭ F G A♭ B♭ C
    G A♭ B♭ C D E♭ F G
    D E♭ F G A B♭ C D
    A B♭ C D E F G A
    E F G A B C D E
    B C D E F♯ G A B
    F♯ G A B C♯ D E F♯
    D♭ E♭♭ F♭ G♭ A♭ B♭♭ C♭ D♭
    A♭ B♭♭ C♭ D♭ E♭ F♭ G♭ A♭
    E♭ F♭ G♭ A♭ B♭ C♭ D♭ E♭
    B♭ C♭ D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭ B♭
    F G♭ A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭ F

    → full Phrygian mode reference


    Lydian Mode

    1 - 2 - 3 - #4 - 5 - 6 - 7

    major sounding; Dreamy/Ethereal

    From the major scale, the lydian mode is created by raising the 4th scale degree.

    I II iii iv° V vi vii I
    C D E F♯ G A B C
    G A B C♯ D E F♯ G
    D E F♯ G♯ A B C♯ D
    A B C♯ D♯ E F♯ G♯ A
    E F♯ G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯ E
    B C♯ D♯ E♯ F♯ G♯ A♯ B
    F♯ G♯ A♯ B♯ C♯ D♯ E♯ F♯
    D♭ E♭ F G A♭ B♭ C D♭
    A♭ B♭ C D E♭ F G A♭
    E♭ F G A B♭ C D E♭
    B♭ C D E F G A B♭
    F G A B C D E F

    → full Lydian mode reference


    Mixolydian Mode

    1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7

    major sounding; Smooth/Bluesy

    From the major scale, the mixolydian mode is created by flattening the 7th scale degree.

    I ii iii° IV v vi VII I
    C D E F G A B♭ C
    G A B C D E F G
    D E F♯ G A B C D
    A B C♯ D E F♯ G A
    E F♯ G♯ A B C♯ D E
    B C♯ D♯ E F♯ G♯ A B
    F♯ G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯ E F♯
    D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭ B♭ C♭ D♭
    A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭
    E♭ F G A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭
    B♭ C D E♭ F G A♭ B♭
    F G A B♭ C D E♭ F

    → full Mixolydian mode reference


    Aeolian Mode

    1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7

    minor sounding; Sad

    The aeolian mode is the same as the minor scale. It's obtained from the major scale by flattening the 3rd, 6th and 7th scale degrees.

    i ii° III iv v VI VII i
    C D E♭ F G A♭ B♭ C
    G A B♭ C D E♭ F G
    D E F G A B♭ C D
    A B C D E F G A
    E F♯ G A B C D E
    B C♯ D E F♯ G A B
    F♯ G♯ A B C♯ D E F♯
    C♯ D♯ E F♯ G♯ A B C♯
    G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯ E F♯ G♯
    D♯ E♯ F♯ G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯
    B♭ C D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭ B♭
    F G A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭ F

    Locrian Mode

    1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - b6 - b7

    diminished sounding; Unresolved/Strange

    From the major scale, the locrian mode is created by flattening the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th scale degrees. Or, starting from the minor scale, the locrian is obtained by flattening the 2nd and 5th scale degrees.

    II iii iv V VI vii
    C D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭ B♭ C
    G A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭ F G
    D E♭ F G A♭ B♭ C D
    A B♭ C D E♭ F G A
    E F G A B♭ C D E
    B C D E F G A B
    F♯ G A B C D E F♯
    D♭ E♭♭ F♭ G♭ A♭♭ B♭♭ C♭ D♭
    A♭ B♭♭ C♭ D♭ E♭♭ F♭ G♭ A♭
    E♭ F♭ G♭ A♭ B♭♭ C♭ D♭ E♭
    B♭ C♭ D♭ E♭ F♭ G♭ A♭ B♭
    F G♭ A♭ B♭ C♭ D♭ E♭ F

    → full Locrian mode reference


    piano samples

    The piano samples used for this reference to the 7 modes of the major scale are from “Salamander Grand Piano V3” by Alexander Holm, licensed under CC BY 3.0.

    Circle of fifths with major and minor keys adgcfebDAEBGCF mini circle of fifths