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How to Practice Major Scale Modes for Jazz Guitar

In today’s installment of the Play Better Jazz Guitar in 30 Days series, we’re going to practice the Modes of the Major Scale.

One of the most fundamental and essential tools that anyone learning how to play jazz guitar can have in their bag are the Modes of the Major Scale. These seven modes are great for learning to see harmonic and melodic shapes on the neck, visualize our fingerboards as well as provide melodic material for us to improvise, compose and arrange with. Though they sometimes get a bad rap, for being too “vanilla” or because guitarists sometimes rely on them too much in our soloing, it is still very necessary to have a strong grasp of these Modes all over our guitars, in all 12 keys. If you haven’t worked on some or all of these modes yet, not to worry, take some time today to learn one of the Major Scale Modes that you haven’t checked out yet. If you need help with some fingerings, check out these links for fingerings and to learn how each mode is built and how it functions harmonically in a jazz context.

Modes of the Major Scale

• • • • • • •

Ionian Dorian Phrygian Lydian Mixolydian Aeolian Locrian

Modes of the Major Scale Fingering Video Lesson

ascending. for those players who are new to this technique. 6ths. How to Practice Ascending and Descending Triads Example . most or all of these modes and you are looking for a new way to practice or play these commonly used melodic devices. just replace the triads with any interval or arpggio and you’ve got it. • • • • • • • • • Ascending and Descending Intervals (3rds. here are some ways that you can spend time today working through the different modes of the Major Scale. eight and two sixteenths etc) Improvise with a Mode Over it’s Related Chord Sing the Root of the Mode While Playing It Sing a Mode While Playing the Root Do All of the Above With a Metronome (from 40 to 300 bpm and everything in between) Do All of the Above in all 12 Keys Here is an example of how to practice the triads. 4ths. descending and alternating.If you already know how to play some. This is the same approach you can use for intervals and arpeggios. triplets. 7ths) Ascending and Descending Triads (135-246-357 etc) Ascending and Descending Arpeggios (1357-2468-3579 etc) Play with a Specific Rhythm (dotted quarters. 5ths.

so having a solid grasp of them on the instrument and in your ears is essential to moving forward as a jazz guitarist. These Modes will come up everyday you play jazz guitar.So. try one of these ideas and see if you can master it in a 12 keys and at a few tempos. . with your time today that you can dedicate to practicing the Major Modes. from ballad to swinging to burning.

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