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Explore and Experiment with Music Modes

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

When we think of our favorite music, what is its tone or character that we most admire? Most of the music we listen to and play is produced from a scale with a major (bright) or minor (dark) quality, which were first developed from music modes. Music modes are based on Western music's compositions from the church during the Middle Ages, and offer a unique tonal palette unlike the modern scale we know today. According to engineer, producer, and musician, Michael Hahn, "before we figured out the math for dividing the octave into 12 equal tones, we had to make do with an imperfect system. Modes were the solution." Additionally, Hahn notes that "instead of one all-purpose scale that could be transposed into different keys, there were 7 modes that each had their own structure: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian." Which "mode" are you interested in exploring? Expand your understanding of modes, how they are used in modern music, and how to experiment with modes here!

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo, c/o

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