Modal Interchange: How To Use It

Updated: Mar 25


Last article we talked about what is Modal Mixture or modal interchange. This time, I will give you a couple of examples to know how to use it.

First, let’s remember that the Ionian mode is our major scale and the Aeolian mode is our natural minor scale. These two modes are the survivors of the initial seven ones. We will relate the rest of the modes we use with our major and minor scales.

Major modes compared with the major scale:

Mixolydian: a major mode with a minor seventh note (b7)

Lydian: a major mode with an augmented fourth (#4)

Minor modes compared with the natural minor scale:

Dorian: a minor mode with a major sixth (M6)

Phrygian: a minor mode with a minor second (b2)

Locrian: a minor mode with a minor second and diminished fifth (b2 and b5)

The modes are divided among majors (as its first third is major), minor (first third is minor) and diminished, within the minors, except for the diminished fifth.


Modal interchange chord chart:

The notes in brackets shown above impact on two chords on every mode, so we have a primary chord and a secondary one as a result. I made a chart with all the chords available with an example on a tonic in C, you can transpose this example on any other keynote you need. You can see here that we use two characteristic chords on every mode, including Major and minor scales:


My advice: experiment with a common chord progression or one that you already know from a song, trying to see which chord suits you best in your songs. Take into account that the notes we use in our melodies have to match at least one of the chords of the Modal Mixture.

Here is an example I which we can see the difference between a diatonic chord progression and one with Modal Mixture:

The first four bars are clearly diatonic except for the secondary dominant (I7), bars 5 to 8 show modal mixture to the Locrian and Lydian mode:

A similar passage now with a modal interchange to the Phrygian:

#GiselaPaterno #WKMT #adultpianolessons #pianolessonslondon #compositionlondon #musiclessons

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