When learning to play the guitar, there comes a time when you must excel from being a beginner to an advanced player. Constantly learning a variety of techniques adds depth and variety to your performance. This also tells your audience that you are not an average guitar player but a true artist. One such technique is the mastery of guitar scales.
Learning guitar scales is crucial when you want to be more than just a guitar player. This advances your guitar skills as this includes understanding the 7 modes of the major scale and reaching such familiarization with it to the point of enabling you to make your own guitar solos and riffs.
The first step in learning guitar scales is studying the major scale and its specific note intervals. All 7 modes start off with a given note and having full grasp of the major scale makes memorizing patterns a whole lot simpler.
A scale is a series of notes with predefined intervals, starting with a root note, and ending on the same note one octave higher.
If music has the ability to impact our emotions and mood, the same goes versa. An interval pattern of scales will define its mood and style, ranging from happy and upbeat (Ionian mode), to sad (Aeolian mode), to sinister (Locrian mode).
Below are the 7 guitar modes which commonly used in Western music. Note that the W denotes 2 semitones while the H means 1 semitone on each scale note.
Ionian Mode (the Major Scale)
Note intervals: W-W-H-W-W-W-H
Musical styles: applies to country, jazz, and rock
Dorian Mode (starts on the second note of the major scale)
Note intervals: W-H-W-W-W-H-W
Musical styles: applies to rock, country, and jazz
Phrygian Mode (starts on the third note)
Note intervals: H-W-W-W-H-W-W
Musical styles: applies to flamenco and Spanish guitar
Lydian Mode (on the fourth note)
Note intervals: W-W-W-H-W-W-H
Mood: mesmerizing, dreamy
Musical styles: applies to jazz, country, and rock
Mixolydian Mode (on the fifth note)
Note intervals: W-W-H-W-W-H-W
Musical styles: applies to blues, rockabilly, and country
Aeolian Mode (a.k.a. the minor scale, starts on the sixth note)
Note intervals: W-H-W-W-H-W-W
Musical styles: applies to pop, blues, metal, rock, and country
Locrian Mode (on the second note)
Note intervals: H-W-W-H-W-W-W
Mood: sinister, horrifying
Musical styles: applies to jazz and fusion
Once you start understanding and applying these scales as you practice your guitar, continuously include it in your regular guitar exercises. It won’t be too long before you have mastered the use and guitar scales and can fully incorporate its philosophies not just in your level of playing, but in creating new riffs and solos to impress your audience as well.