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# Parallel vs Relative Modes

Question by Al

I was browsing a site the other day and it shows that there are two ways to play modes - up the neck in seven patterns... A, B, C etc. and then it says you can play all the modes on the same root note, e.g. seven modes on G. I must have missed this on the site b/c never seen it anywhere.

So Major and minor are coming from the same root? I would think this would be while in different keys... to use major and minor with the same root. Thanks just wondering... al.

Hey Al, it sounds like they're referring to parallel vs relative modes.

Let's say your Ionian/Major root is C.

To think of modes in parallel terms would mean you play C Ionian, C Dorian, C Phrygian etc. - all the modes on the same root.

Parallel mode switches are often used when playing over a fixed backing chord or bass note. So it does help to be able to visualise all the modes on a shared root note like this.

This means that, using the example of C Dorian, Bb major would be its parent major scale, because of Dorian's relative position to the parent scale's root (one whole step).

With C Phrygian, Ab Major would be the parent scale, based on its relative position (two whole steps).

And so on...

The other way the site is referring to is to visualise modes as relative to other modes. It just so happens I've uploaded a video that shows you a way of visualising relative mode positions.

In short, C Ionian/Major's relative modes would be D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian and B Locrian. This is because each mode's root lies on a degree of the parent major scale (in this example, C major).

A good way to test your knowledge of relative modes is to pick a random mode and its root note.

Let's say... B Mixolydian.

What would be the relative parent scale root (same as Ionian) of this mode?

The relative Dorian mode root?

The relative Aeolian mode root?

Once you establish where the parent scale root lies, it's easier to visualise the other relative modes of whatever mode you're playing and use their positions/patterns in that context.

Watch that video above as it will possibly be the missing piece of the jigsaw for you.