Calculating Parent Major Scales

Difficulty: Spectrum

Been working hard - lots of tone and semitone counting right? I promised you an easy way, and here it is... you do it on your guitar!

I'm going to go through each mode now one at a time and look at the Tonal Centre and it physical relationship to the Parent Major Scale on the guitar neck. It makes it SO much easier. I remember sitting in my bedroom age 17 having been struggling with working out my modes all morning and having a eureka moment when I realised I could do it this way, I had just been learning my intervals on the neck and the two things clicked together. Once you memorise the relationships (which are very easy) you should be able to work out any parent major scale in a few seconds!

You need to get all of the these diagrams into your head right now - study them, think about them - test yourself whenever you can, remind yourself and think about the logic behind all this stuff - and you will find this method super fast!

Ionian Mode

Ionian Mode PMS

Now really I shouldn't really have even bothered making this diagram, but I'm a bit OCD and couldn't have one mode without a diagram could I?
The TC and PMS for Ionian mode are the same note. Kepis?

Dorian Mode

Ionian Mode PMS

Nice easy one - same really as we looked at before... the PMS for Dorian is a tone below the TC.

Easy peasy. Should be no problem with this one - and it's a very common mode, so you will need this one a lot!

PMS is down a major 2nd.

Phrygian Mode

Ionian Mode PMS

You put your first finger on the TC on the 6th string, and the note 3 frets up the neck on the 5th string is the PMS.

Do it on the guitar now - doing it helps you get it memorised.

You don't really even have to know the note really, you should, but it's not that important if you are playing it right ;)

Of course you could also count down two tones from the root note.

PMS is up a minor 6th interval.

Lydian Mode

I always think this one is a bit like a power chord - and Lydian is used a lot in modern rock (Satch, Vai etc.) so that may help you remember the shape.

Put your first finger on the TC on the 6th string and the note two frets up on the 5th string is your PMS.

PMS is up a Perfect 5th

Mixolydian Mode

This one is pretty simple, being that the TC and the PMS are in the same fret. Just look over onto the 5th string and there is you PMS - what could be easier?

Think about how much quicker it is to do it on the guitar than be counting tones and semitones. Cool huh!

PMS is up a Perfect 4th.

Aeolian Mode

Have your first finger on the TC and reach out one finger per fret up the neck and your little finger will be sitting on the PMS of the Aeolian Mode.

You can also use this to remember your relative major and minor. Little finger on the major - first finger on the minor - works in both directions ;)

PMS is up a Minor 3rd.

Locrian Mode

I probably shouldn't have done a diagram for this one either... but well - the Locrian Mode PMS is one semitone above the TC. Ez.

PMS is up a Minor 2nd.

All of the above

Lastly here is a diagram with them all shown on the one neck, so you can see how they relate to each other - I've added two ways of looking at Phrygian Mode, 'cos I do use the one down the neck sometimes too - it's really what ever way works best for you - or whichever is fastest at the time!

OK - Time to test yourself...

It's really important that you guys test yourself as much as you can with this stuff! The best way os to get a jam buddy and just ask them to test you out and see how quick you can get the right PMS. Here are some Q's to get you started...

  1. What is the PMS for G Dorian?
  2. What is the PMS for C# Phrygian?
  3. What is the PMS for B Locrian?
  4. What is the PMS for E Mixolydian?
  5. What is the PMS for A# Mixolydian?
  6. What is the PMS for D Aeolian?
  7. What is the PMS for Bb Dorian?
  8. What is the PMS for Ab Lydian?
  9. What is the PMS for G# Dorian?
  10. What is the PMS for Eb Mixolydian?

Answers... scroll down the page - but try them all first.

Remember you could quite easily make up your own questions - any root note - and mode - and see if you are right! But don't waste your time with Ionian and Locrian - they are too easy!

DOING IT is what will make you better!

Hope it's all making sense - questions to the forum please...


Next up SC-508 • Comparing Modes
















1. F Maj - 2. A Maj - 3. C Maj - 4. A Maj - 5. D# Maj - 6. F Maj - 7. Ab Maj - 8. Eb Maj - 9. F# Maj - 10. Ab Maj.

Major Scale Modes



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