Ionian Mode Explained – A Complete Guide In Theory And Practice

The Ionian mode is the first of the 7 modes. Essentially, it is just a major scale with a different name. In the lesson, Guitar Modes Explained, we have looked at producing and analyzing modes from a derivative and parallel approach. If these terms are unfamiliar, please read the post on guitar modes explained.

In a nutshell, a mode is produced by playing a major scale and starting on a different note of the scale. For example, to play the dorian mode, simply play any major scale and start on the 2nd note. The phrygian mode is produced by playing a major scale and starting on the 3rd note of the scale. Well, the ionian mode is effectively a major scale that starts on the 1st note of the scale. It’s simplicity is almost confusing, so if you are confused, just know that the ionian mode and the major scale are essentially two different names for the same thing. Therefor, to understand the ionian mode, you need to understand how major scales are constructed.

If you are comfortable with the concept of major scales then you can go on to read the post A Complete Guide To Major Scales On The Guitar.

Since the major scale and the ionian scale are essentially the same, we have often referred to the ionian scale as the major scale in many lessons on this site. With that in mind, here are links to posts on individual keys of the ionian mode (major scale):

Common Ionian Modes:

Very Rarely Used Ionian Modes:

  • B# Ionian (enharmonically the same as C Ionian)
  • E# Ionian (enharmonically the same as F Ionian)
  • Cb Ionian (enharmonically the same as B Ionian)
  • Fb Ionian (enharmonically the same as E Ionian)


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About Genaaron Diamente

I play guitar. I teach guitar. I like making music. I'm trying to build this site up to be a valuable resource for guitar students and teachers.

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