Newsletter Sign-Up
Øystein Wika
Norwegian Guitarist, Composer & Music Producer

Music Theory Lesson On Modes

One of the hardest things to get to grips with in music theory, is the concept of music modes. This is in part to blame on the western classical music theory practice of explaining everything from a major/minor viewpoint. The church modes is generally considered anachronistic, and belonging to music theory pre the equal temperament tuning system.

Well, in most modern jazz, rock and pop music - the modes plays a central part. But since it isn't taught in music theory class, most students struggle a little with the concept. Having taught some 150 guitar students over the past few years, I quickly saw the need for a theoretical explanation on musical modes. So, in 1991-92, I developed a quick and easy music theory compendium for my guitar students. Over the years it has been widely copied, and I've seen other music teachers using a version of it in their theory courses.

So, I've decided to share the part called Understanding Music Modes here on my web site. I will make the entire compendium available at a later date.

Figure showing the music modes