> The Sounds Of The Ionian Mode, Learn the Chords, Scale, Triads and Arpeggios Built From Ionian
The Professor
post Feb 27 2013, 04:09 PM
Post #1

Theory Instructor
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
Member No.: 17.394

In this series of articles we will be taking a look at the different sounds that you can build from any mode in the major scale, in particular the chords, scale, triad and arpeggio that go with each mode in the major scale.

To start digging into learning and applying the different sounds that derive from the major scale, let’s take a look at the chords, scale, triad and arpeggio that are built from the Ionian mode, the first mode of the major scale.

The Ionian mode is one of the most commonly used scales when soloing in modern music, and it is usually one of the first scales we learn on the guitar when venturing beyond the pentatonic and blues scales that we usually start with on the instrument.

But, besides learning a fingering or two for this important scale, it is good to know the other melodic and harmonic devices that are built from the Ionian mode so that you can apply these to your practice routine, as well as build your theory chops so that you recognize when to use the Ionian mode in your soloing and song writing.

Here is a quick look at each device from the Ionian mode, with further details provided below to read further.

Attached Image

Ionian Chords

To begin, there are two main chords that are built from any Ionian mode, the major triad and the maj7 chord.

The major triad is built from the Root, 3rd and 5th note of the major scale, and the maj7 chord is built by adding one note to that triad so that you have a root, 3rd, 5th and 7th in that chord construction.

So, in the key of C, the major triad would be:

C E G or R 3 5 of the Ionian mode

And the maj7 chord in C would be:

C E G B or R 3 5 7

You can see an example of both of these in the notation and tab provided above.

Notice that the notes of the triad, C E and G, and the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the Ionian mode next to it, and that the notes of the Cmaj7 chord, C, E, G and B, and the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th note of the scale next to it.

This knowledge will help you learn to transpose these notes around the neck and into different keys as you learn to build different triads and four-note Ionian-based chords in all 12 keys.

Further Reading

How to Build and Play Major Triads


Write out the note for each major triad and maj7 chord in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will correct them and give you feedback if you are having any trouble writing out the notes of these triads and chords.

Ionian Scale

The Ionian mode, also known as the major scale, is built from the following interval structure:


In this pattern, whole equals a whole step (2 frets on the guitar) and half equals a half-step (1 fret on the guitar).

So, if you apply that formula to the key of C, as in the example above, you get the following notes.

C (W) D (W) E (H) F (W) G (W) A (W) B (H) C

Or, you will also see this scale written in numbers as such:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1

Since, the Ionian/Major scale is the fundamental sound of these 7 modes, that come from the major scale itself, it is used as a “baseline” to measure and build the other modes. This is why there are no flat or sharp notes in it’s numerical construction, because the other modes are compared to this scale.

More on that in future lessons, but for know just know that the major scale uses those numbers and is built with that group of Whole and Half-Steps.

Further Reading

How to Build Major Scales for Guitar


Write out the notes of the Ionian mode/Major scale, in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will check them out and post feedback, as well as answer any questions you may have on this scale construction.

Ionian Triad and Arpeggio

Just like we had a 3-note chord and a 4-note chord, you also have a triad(3-note) and arpeggio (4 note) structure related to the Ionian mode, built in the same way as the two chords.

The Ionian mode produces a major triad, basically just the major chord from above but played “broken” (picked) rather than strummed like a chord.

As well, it produces an arpeggio that has the same notes as the 4-note chord above, but again it is picked “broken” rather than strummed like a chord.

So, the Ionian mode produces a broken major-triad with the intervals R, 3 and 5 (C, E and G in the key of C), and an arpeggio with the notes R, 3, 5 7 (C, E, G and B in the key of C), just like the 4-note chord from the previous section.

Further Reading

How To Build and Play Major Triads


Write out the triad and arpeggio notes for the Ionian mode, a major triad and maj7 arpeggio, in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will check your work and help with any issues or questions you may have on this subject.

Learning the structures behind each mode that you are learning on the guitar can help shore up your theory knowledge, as well as make it easier for you to apply these modes to your solos and song writing as you learn to relate them to chords, triads and arpeggios.

If you have any questions or comments, post them below.

This post has been edited by The Professor: Feb 27 2013, 04:11 PM

Ask me anything on the theory board. Follow my theory course. Check out my personal site
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:


RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 9th December 2019 - 10:57 AM