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[C major modes] [ C Ionian ] [ Dorian mode ] [ Phrygian mode ] [ Lydian mode ] [ Mixolydian Mode ] [ Aeolian mode ] [ Locrian mode ]

Basic major scale fingerings ] [ F major modes ] [ G Modes ] [ Constructing Scales ] [ Key Signatures and constructing major scales ] [ Modulation, cadence, progressions ]

Guitar Modes in the key of C major.

C major or Ionian mode

Learn to play guitar modes

In this lesson I would like to explain the key of C Major, the guitar modes and the chords that make up the major scale. The key of C major has no sharps or flats. If you were sitting at the piano, it would be all the white keys. The black keys on the piano are the sharps and flats that make up other keys.

The A minor pentatonic scale you have learned comes right out of the Aeolian mode, which is the 6th mode in the key of C Major. Once you learn the key of C Major and all the guitar modes in the major key, you can use the same fingering patterns to play the major scale in other keys. Just like the A minor pentatonic scale you have learned in the previous lessons. Learning the C Major scale and modes are very important.

The image below shows all the notes in the key of C Major

key of C major and notes of Guitar modes










  • Remember the notes that made up the A minor pentatonic scale were A, C, D, E and G.

  • Now it's time to add two more notes. These notes will be the F and B.

  • In our lessons each note was given a color.

We will use the image above for a while to become familiar with the Key of C Major and the different notes of this key. 

All Major keys are made up of 7 notes or seven modes. Look at the image above and notice that there are 8 notes.
These notes are CD, E, F, GA, B, C

The Chords that make up all Major Keys are always, Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, diminished and Major.

So in the key of C, the chords would be.

C Major, D minor, E minor, F Major, G Major, A minor, B diminished, C Major.

C major guitar chord

For Example the C chord is made up of the notes: C, E and G.

Notice the two open strings to the right. Those two open strings are the G and E notes. These open strings can be strummed along with the other notes to play the C chord.

Look at the illustration below. Notice how there are 3 notes per section. These 3 notes make up each chord in the key of C major. Look at the C below and notice the 3 notes in the C section. The notes are C E G. These are the notes in the C chord. Look at the box to the right below and you will see each chord and the notes of that chord. If you wrote your song using these chords you would be playing in the key of C major.

C major and scale, Guitar modes of the key of C major

  • C Major chord   C E G

  • Dm chord   D F A

  • Em chord   E G B

  • F Major chord     F A C

  • G Major chord    G B D

  • Am chord           A C E

  • B Diminished      B D F

Patent Pending

The image I've designed above is for a quick reference to what notes and chords are in the Key of C. This illustration above can tell you the notes that make up each chord with just one glance. 

So now you have learned that there are 8 notes in the Major key.

The Major key is made up of the Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, diminished  chords.

For the key of C the notes are C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

Later we will learn why these chords make up the Major scale, but I would like to show you the fingering patterns first. 

In the next lesson we will learn the fingering pattern for the C Major Ionian scale.

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