Fingering for Modes | Piano Marvel

Fingering for Modes

for the classical pianist

Have you ever wanted to learn the modes for the piano but didn't know where to start when it came to fingerings? Well if so, I too was in the same boat until about two weeks ago when I finally decided to learn the modes. Now, if you've been around music for a while you may have already heard the names of the modes before: Ionian, Dorian, Phyrgian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. But, just knowing these names and understanding that Dorian, for example, is built off of the second scale degree doesn't mean that you know your modes does it? For that matter, do we really ever know anything? It's almost like truly knowing something is a virtue. Anyways, that's a bit deep for now, but hopefully, the concept is understood. My main goal here is to give classical pianists, like myself, an insight into what might be appropriate fingerings for the seven modes of the Major scale. 

 

To be honest, I am not a jazz piano player. There's some jazz that I like and I think that it is interesting, but as a piano player, I have spent far more time studying and playing Classical music than anything else. I don't think that it is all in vain, though. At the school I went to, I remember hearing from many of the Jazz students there that one of the Jazz Piano professors started out as a Classical pianist and then made the switch to Jazz. Heck, I've even heard Barry Harris say that, "Jazz is the continuation of Classical theory". So, with all that being said, please know that the information I am giving you is based on my studies for the last five or six years spent studying Classical Piano.

 

At the bottom of this article, you will see a fingering guide I've made that closely resembles what I have been using to learn the fingerings for the last 14 days or so. The way that I have been going about studying these modes is to play all seven modes for one major scale each day. I first start out by playing hands separately many times until the scale feels fluid. While doing this, I refer to the fingering guide as needed to make sure I am playing correctly. Once I feel that I know the pattern, I then start looking down at my hand to help internalize how it looks while listening to the sound of the scale and focusing on its evenness or fluidity. I do this multiple times until it feels good for each hand and continue for all seven modes. That would look like:

 

  1. C Ionian (or Major) - Right Hand
  2. C Ionian (or Major) - Left Hand
  3. D Dorian - Right Hand
  4. D Dorian - Left Hand
  5. E Phyrgian - Right Hand
  6. E Phyrgian - Left Hand
  7. F Lydian - Right Hand
  8. F Lydian - Left Hand
  9. G Mixolydian - Right Hand
  10. G Mixolydian - Left Hand
  11. A Aeolian ("Natural Minor") - Right Hand
  12. A Aeolian ("Natural Minor") - Left Hand
  13. B Locrian - Right Hand
  14. B Locrian - Left Hand
  15. Then I move on to all 7 modes hands together...

 

My main goal is to start building muscle memory hands separately so that when I bring my hands together the fingerings will be a bit more solid and hopefully just come to me as opposed to me trying to have to slowly figure them out. I've found this to be a good strategy for me, personally, based on my background with scales. The entire process (playing modes hands separate and then hands together) takes about 20 minutes or so and is a great way for me to warm up my fingers!

 

So, without further adieu, here is the diagram that I have made for you:

 

If you like the link to download a high-quality version that you can print or download, you can find that here.

I sincerely hope that you find this to be helpful for you! If you ever have any questions, please feel free to send me an email at: [email protected].

 

Thanks so much and have a great day!


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