The Ionian mode

Home of the I chord

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A Ionian scale shapes

When to use the Ionian mode

Ionian is the modal name for the major scale (Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do).

The majority of hit songs composed in the popular music tradition have the Ionian mode as “home”, using the other modes to support it.

You must practice this scale extensively, do not underestimate the importance of being able to solo and write in major!

By starting with the Major Pentatonic and adding notes you will discover the true sound of the scale. Practise like this and the important intervals that make up the mode will pop out.

Major Pentatonic:
Ionian: 4

To learn how to write and improvise with Ionian you must first learn all five shapes individually.

Following this, connect the shapes and finally run them through the cycle of 4th using the concept of closest shape possible.

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Connect Ionian scale shapes

When you can play the shapes individually – You must connect them

This exercise will teach you how to connect the Ionian shapes in the key of A.

If you get stuck in a particular shape, go back and practice it as an isolated shape.

Also, consider how you can vary this connect shapes exercise.

It doesn’t have to be triplets as in the video. Why not try one of the rhythms from the chromatic exercises you’re practising right now.

When you can do it in A as the video demonstrate, try it in D, G, C, F, and all other keys.

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Ionian and the cycle of 4th

The final step

This exercise takes the Ionian mode and runs it through the cycle of 4th using closest possible shape.

If you struggle with this exercise, go back and practice scale shapes individually.

This final Ionian exercise flows like this:

A Ionian – E shape, D Ionian – A shape, G Ionian – D shape, C Ionian – G shape, F Ionian – C shape.

This is then followed by the same shapes, one fret up the neck, start on a Bb.

Related Pages


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The advanced songs require you to learn 7th note chords, arpeggios, and modal scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fret board.

Go to Advanced guitar course.


These are pretty advanced exercises. You’ll be playing 7th note chords, arpeggios and modes all over the neck.

But don’t fret – As you’ve already mapped out the fret board with pentatonic scales and barre chords, extending the concept is actually really simple.

Go to Advanced guitar exercises.


You can learn how to play these advanced songs on the acoustic guitar.

Angels, Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, Blackbird, Cannonball, Don’t Wait Too Long, I Shot The Sheriff, Over The Rainbow, Roxanne, Scarborough Fair, Sunshine Of Your Love, Take Me To The River, Tears In Heaven, and Wish You Were Here.

Go to Advanced acoustic songs.

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