Four Relative-Related Modes

MODES

by Jerry Rockwell

In this article I will give you some D-A-D fingerboard charts for the four most common modes used in folk music:

  • IONIAN
  • DORIAN
  • MIXOLYDIAN
  • AEOLIAN

All of these modes will be accessible on your D-A-D tuned dulcimer, so they will be the modes RELATIVE to D Major (D Ionian):

  • D IONIAN: tonic center (drone) of D –> D and A are the root and 5th | Key Signature of D Major is used.
  • E DORIAN: tonic center (drone) of E –> E and B are the root and 5th | Key Signature of D Major is used.
  • A MIXOLYDIAN: tonic center (drone) of A –> A and E are the root and 5th | Key Signature of D Major is used.
  • B AEOLIAN: tonic center (drone) of B –> B and F# are the root and 5th | Key Signature of D Major/B Minor is used.

B Aeolian is also called the natural minor or “pure minor” scale. You also might hear the term “Relative Minor” for this key:

  • B Minor is the RELATIVE MINOR of D Major
  • D Major is the RELATIVE MAJOR of B Minor
  • D Major and B Minor share the same key signature of two sharps (F# and C#).

By extension, we can also use this same terminology to define our modal relationships:

  • E DORIAN is the RELATIVE DORIAN of D Major or D IONIAN
  • A MIXOLYDIAN is the RELATIVE MIXOLYDIAN of D Major or D IONIAN

ALL of these modes share the same key signature of two sharps.

SCALE-DEGREE FINGERBOARD SURVEYS for Tuning: D-A-D

D IONIAN (D Major):

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

E DORIAN:

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

A MIXOLYDIAN:

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

B AEOLIAN:

b3|---------4|--------5|--b6|-----b7|-----1|--|-2|b3|---4|---5|b6|
b7|---------1|--------2|--b3|------4|-----5|b6|--|b7|---1|---2|b3|
b3|---------4|--------5|--b6|-----b7|-----1|--|-2|b3|---4|---5|b5|

Here is a tablature exercise for E Dorian, where you are trying to support the ascending form of the mode, starting from the 1st fret of the bass string, with the E and B notes as much as possible. There are many different ways to do this, but your options are quite limited in the first 3 or 4 frets:

   E m   /     /     /       /     /     /     /      
D|-1-----2-----3-----------|-1-----------1-----1-----|
A|----------1--------0-----|-1-----2-----1-----1-----|
D|----1-----------1-----1--|-------------0-----1-----|

...up the fingerboard with chords:

   Em  D   Em  D     Em  A   Bm  Em
D|-1---2---3---4---|-5---6+--7---8---|-----------------|-----------------|
A|-1---0---1---3---|-4---4---5---6---|-----------------|-----------------|
D|-1---0---1---2---|-3---4---5---5---|-----------------|-----------------|