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Music Theory:
Understanding the Major Scale / Ionian Mode


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Q: Can you do a quick video lesson about the Ionian Mode. I think it is associated to the Major Scale. But, my guitar teacher couldn't explain it very well. I always appreciate your clear explanations, could you please help me out!
- Thanks, Lamar Jacksonville, FL.

A: The mode known as IONIAN is simply an ancient Greek name for our most basic of scales the Major Scale.

The major scale is the most important scale in music. All other scales are either taken from it or compared to it. The video lesson explains the; structure of the Major scale, it's formula, intervals, basic harmonic design and I've also included a few simple practice tips.


The combination of all movements from one note in a scale to the next until the scales octave is referred to as the scales Formula. The major scales Formula is a combination of tones and semi-tones. The movement of a tone is that of two frets on the guitar. The semi-tone is one fret. The movement occurs as follows: T, T, S, T, T, T, S.

The C Major Scale:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
T, T, S, T, T, T, S

F Major Jam Track

In the C Major scale, the distance from C to D is a tone, from D to E is a tone, from E to F is a semi-tone, F to G is a tone, G to A is a tone, A to B is a tone and the last movement of B to C is a semi-tone.

Stacking the scale in thirds would create a harmony.


This Major Scale Harmony contains a series of intervals between every note which defines each chord quality. The first chord is major, the second is minor, the third is minor, the 4th is major, the 5th is major, the 6th is minor and the 7th is diminished.

The Harmonized Scale:
Cma, Dmi, Emi, Fma, Gma, Ami, Bdim.

This harmony layout is not limited to the key of C. Every major scale has the identical harmony of; Ma, Mi, Mi, Ma, Ma, Mi, Dim.

It is important that all musicians fully understand the major scale and it's harmony. Music of the last five-hundred years is based upon this scale, and comprehending the theory is crucial to each and every player.