top of page
  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Feb 2021: Modes! Lesson 1

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

This newsletter starts a new FREE lesson series to Site Members! The subject is Modes. As of now, there are approximately 15 lessons. I've spent the last couple of weeks writing 10 of those lessons. I wanted to get out ahead on this series because I need to concentrate on the launch of Unit 6: 7th Voicing for the next month or so.

In the meantime, let's talk about Modes for a minute:

I see a lot of confusion on the subject of modes. It's constantly brought up in various guitar groups on the many social media platforms on which Master Guitar School has a presence. This lesson series is my attempt to address this issue and to give you my approach which I hardly ever see in the many answers and responses to the questions that people pose.

It appears that my methodology, though not exclusive to myself, is somewhat rare.

One of the most common questions I see is,

“What is the difference between scales and modes?”

If you google this question you will typically find,

  • A scale is an ordered sequence of notes with a start and end. A mode is a permutation upon a scale that is repeatable at the octave, such that the start and end points are shifted.

You'd almost have to already understand modal theory in order to understand this answer!

As far as I'm concerned, the distinction between scales and modes is a finely-split hair, if even that.

Case-in-point: Did you know that the Major Scale, from which, say, the Dorian Mode derives, is also a mode? The modal name for the Major Scale is the Ionian Mode. In fact, the Ionian Mode is derived from the 7th degree of the Dorian Scale.

Confused yet? Yeah, you and eleventy-billion other guitarists!

I think of a mode as its own key, or its own tonality, regardless of the “parent” scale it's derived from, or as put above, the scale from which it is a “permutation.”

Therefore, “scale” and “mode” are functionally synonymous. For instance, if we're dealing with the Dorian Mode, you need to think in Dorian, hear in Dorian and see your Dorian patterns on the fretboard, independent of the “scale” from which it is derived.

Having said all that, it is important to understand the scale/mode derivations, but I teach that last instead of first. Before we get to that, you will know various modes in-and-of themselves, as their own key or tonality. If you can do that, understanding those modes relative to a “parent” scale is a very easy concept.

So...we will begin with one of what I call the 2 “Archetypes:"

(You must be a Site Member and logged in to view!)

Not a member and want more info? Go to Why Become A Site Member?


New Products Coming!

Unit 6: 7th Voicing

As stated above, Unit 6 of Vertical Truth: Chordal Mechanisms for the Guitar will be launched shortly. It's on what's called, 7th Voicing. Mastering the content of this Unit leads to several things:

  • It presents a method for playing chord melodies.

  • It combines the strengths of root-position 7th chords and 7th inversions. For a preview of this concept see the blog, Back to Bach.

  • It provides vocabulary for comping to Blues, Jazz standards and also the gypsy jazz genre, but can be applied to all styles of playing.

  • It lays a foundation for adding 9ths and 13ths, as well as all the alterations of those extensions - which will be covered in Unit 7: 9th Chords (next year!)

And contrary to how it may appear, it's a very short Unit; there are only 7 lessons. Then there are 4 lessons that apply the concept to specific tunes - so 11 lessons in all.

It's all done - all I have to do is put the launch together - so stay tuned!

The blog I published a week ago gives a preview of a couple of the chords you'll learn in Unit 6. If you missed that, go to Quick & Dirty Altered Dominants.

Unit 2: The Blues

All the free lessons on the Blues that you've received over the course of the last few months will be bundled together as a PDF and offered as a download.

In addition I will offer Concepts for Basic Improvising as a very cheap upsell; those two products go together and constitute Unit 2 of my Vertical Truth method.

So if you've thought about purchasing Concepts for Basic Improvising but haven't pulled the trigger, you might wait and pick it up for a ridiculously low price when you purchase Unit 2: The Blues.


Blogs Published Since Last Newsletter

(Site membership is not necessary to access the blogs)

Jam Tales: The Incredible Flying Mic: This story is about singer Jim LaForte. He had one of the most authentic R&B voices of anyone I've heard. A whole book could be written about him; he was one of those characters who was surrounded by chaos and drama, most of it his own doing.

The Aeolian/Dorian Distinction: Back-door into modes from the Minor Pentatonic Scale. No confusing modal theory necessary. What do you want to sound like? What do you want to feel? What color is it?

Quick & Dirty Altered Dominants: Quickly sharp and flat 5ths and 9ths of Dominant 7 chords.


(You must be a Site Member and logged in to view!)


P.S. How many of you guys and gals would like to see some beginner-type stuff? I'm talking about 1st-position chords (G, C, D, Em, Am, etc.) - I call them, "cowboy chords." How to finger them, how to switch from one to another in a smooth and musical manner, and so on. Anyone?


Sign up as a Master Guitar School site member - it's free! - and get access to dozens of free site-based lessons, a monthly newsletter that contains a brand-new free lesson, and DEEP discounts on lesson series downloads - plus more!

Leave a comment &/or share through your social networks using the links below!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page