Modes give another musical 'feel' to a solo. You may play in one Key Signature, then use a Mode to sharp or flat the notes, in a certain sequence, to change the sound. The sequence is based on a Major Scale Key Signature. As a Lydian Mode example, let's use the root D in the DMaj scale:
Although D is the root note for the D Major Scale, Lydian Mode uses the 4th note of a different Major Scale, as its own root. Above, we're using D as the root, so we must find what Major Scale has D as its 4th, note. From what Major Scale can we play the D Lydian Mode?
Let's think backwards, and start at the letter D. Count back from D, four letters:
So, the A Major Scale has D as the 4th note, the Lydian Mode root note. This Lydian Mode retains the same Key Signature as the A Major Scale. The Key Signature is:
Therefore, the Lydian Mode, with D as the Root, is:
We may use this Lydian Mode to solo over the original Key we were playing, D Major:
You may be wondering how it will sound if we play a G sharp in the key of D Major (which only has F and C sharps)? That's the beauty of Modes, they give a different feel in the context of the original scale's tonal range. Modes sound harmonius, nonetheless.
We see that in order to find our Lydian Mode, we must:
Switching between the natural 4th note, and the sharp 4th note, changes a song's sound and feeling. Correspondingly, altering scale notes will produce different Modes. Memorize which particular notes of a Major Scale that Modes change (sharp or flat):
|Lydian||1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8|
|Ionian||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8|
|Mixolydian||1 2 3 4 5 6 b7|
|Dorian||1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8|
|Aeolian||1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8|
|Phrygian||1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8|
|Locrian||1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8|
Use this chart for any Major Key. We only need to know the starting Root. Also, a sequence develops as you add the next Mode:
Numbering between each addition, is a rollercoaster:
This is just a shortcut to memorize the sequence of added note changes for Modes. The Modes' names themselves, in this particular order, may be remembered with an acronym:
The #4 Lydian, and the natural Ionian are unique modes. The other Modes flat one or more notes of a Major Scale. We may train our ears to hear a mode within a key, to memorize its altered notes.
The C Major scale shows all of the modes in order, as they start on a different letter. Each new root contains the key signature for that note:
Use the modes table above to quickly flat or sharp notes for the current scale/key.
Recommended reading: Guitar Tab and NotesMaterial by Eleventh Decibel.