Josh from Sylosis Teaches You the 7 Modes

Music theory can be a contentious subject for some people. I’m not really sure why, maybe because we’re somehow scared of knowledge or that pulling back the curtain will ruin the surprise.


Well, guess what? There’s nothing cool about getting that surprise in the middle of a solo. For you OR your audience. I look at theory like this – if you can play, and everything you play and write sounds good, then you don’t need an explanation why. The last thing you need is some pocket protector telling you what’s what, just keep on doing your thing. But if you’re searching for the right notes every time, and have no idea where to start or why, it might be time to sit down and learn a bit of theory.

IT WILL NOT RUIN YOUR CREATIVITY. I cannot stress this enough. Music theory is ONLY names for sounds and the interactions between notes. If you have made a sound on a guitar, there’s a name for it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a name for it so you can come back to it later? That’s all it is.

So now that I’ve convinced you that you’re not going to burn out your enjoyment of music, then feast your senses on this explanation of the 7 modes of the major scale by Josh Middleton of Sylosis. He breaks it down pretty gently for the uninitiated and gives you an explanation you can wrap your brain around.  He also contextualizes it for metal, which is nice, because \m/ .

In case you can’t speak British, the names of the seven modes are, in order:

1. Ionian

2. Dorian

3. Phrygian

4. Lydian

5. Mixolydian

6. Aeolian

7. Locrian

They’re always in this order, in every single major key. This also applies to all pitched instruments, not just guitar. He presents them in my favorite patterns, three-notes-per-string style. Here’s the shapes:

EDIT: The Mixolydian in this picture is definitely wrong, the second note on the third string should be shifted up one fret.

3 notes per string modes guitar

Now get to it!

Written by

As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.