C major or Ionian mode
In this lesson, I would like to explain the key of C Major, the guitar modes and the guitar 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 major keys. These sharps and flats are called accidentals.
The A minor pentatonic scale you have learned in a previous lesson, 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, learning the C Major scale and each mode is very important and is needed to becoming a successful musician.
The image below, shows all the notes in the key of C Major.
- 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 major key.
All Major keys are made up of 8 notes and seven modes. Look at the image above, to the right and notice that there are 8 notes. These notes are C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C
The chords that make up the Major scales 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.
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 section below and notice the 3 notes in that section. The notes are, C E G. These are the notes that create the C chord.
For Example, the C chord is made up of the notes: C- E- G.
When you play the open position fingering pattern for the C major chord, you are playing the notes of C, E and G. There are times when the open strings are part of the chord. Notice the two open strings to the left. 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. However, there are many times when I mute the low E string when I play the C chord, notice the thumb.
Look at the notes below, to the right and you will see each chord and the notes of that chord. If you were to write your song using these chords, you would be playing in 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
Each basic guitar chord is called a triad. The triad is made up of three notes. Each of the chords above, have 3 notes. Now, you can have 7th type chords and these chords and others will have 4 or more notes per chord. For example, the Am7 chord has the notes A, C, E and G.
The image I’ve designed above, is used for a quick reference to what notes and chords are in the Key of C. This illustration, can tell you the notes that make up each chord (triad), in the major scale with just one glance.
So, now you have learned that there are 8 notes in the Major key. The 8th note in the major key, is an octave higher than the first note and is the same note.
The major key is made up of the Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, diminished and major guitar chords.
For the key of C major, the notes are C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C.
In the next lesson, we will learn the fingering pattern for the C Major Ionian mode. We will also learn each mode in the major key.