A mode is a new scale derived from the notes of another scale. Modes begin and end on a note that belongs to the original scale and have all the same notes as the scale from which it is derived. The difference is simply the beginning note. They are named depending on what note of the original scale they begin on. The names come from locales around ancient Greece. The first mode of the Diatonic scale begins on the first note of the scale and is called Ionian (this makes it identical to the Major scale). The Dorian mode begins on the second note, and so on.

Although these modes share the same notes as the scale from which they are derived, when played they have subtly different sounds. Soloists often uses them as the basis for their improvisations, and change from one to another as the chords change in a song.

The different tonal qualities each mode has is a function of the relative spacing of the notes from the beginning note. The diagram below shows the modes of major scales, the notes they begin on, and the spacing of notes. This example shows the modes of C major. However, the spacing between notes and the mode names are the same for all the major keys.

The Natural Minor Scale
Within the Major scale is a mode so popular that it has risen to the status of a full-fledged scale. The sixth mode of the Major scale is the Aeolian mode but it is better know as the Natural Minor Scale. This is the most common of all the minor scales and is used in every aspect of Western music (that is, the music of western culture not as in country-western).

This means that every major scale has a counter-part natural minor scale that shares all of the same notes. For instance, the sixth mode of the C Major scale is A Aeolian. This is a natural minor scale known as A Minor. C Major and A Minor have all of the same notes. Because of this relationship, A Minor is called the relative minor of C Major.

The Natural Minor scale is actually the same as the Aeolian Mode. They share the same notes as the Major scale from which they are derived.

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