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ionian mode

The Solution below shows the ionian mode notes on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.

The Lesson steps then explain how to identify the mode note interval positions, choose note names and scale degree names.

For a quick summary of this topic, have a look at Mode.

Mode keys
Key[C]C#DbDD#EbEE#FbFF#GbGG#AbAA#BbBB#Cb

Solution - 2 parts

1. ionian mode

This step shows the ascending ionian mode on the piano, treble clef and bass clef. It also shows the scale degree chart for all 8 notes.

The ionian mode has no sharp or flat notes.

ionian mode note names
Note no.Note intervalNote name
1tonicThe 1st note of the ionian mode is C
2C-maj-2ndThe 2nd note of the ionian mode is D
3C-maj-3rdThe 3rd note of the ionian mode is E
4C-perf-4thThe 4th note of the ionian mode is F
5C-perf-5thThe 5th note of the ionian mode is G
6C-maj-6thThe 6th note of the ionian mode is A
7C-maj-7thThe 7th note of the ionian mode is B
8C-perf-8thThe 8th note of the ionian mode is C

ionian mode

Middle C (midi note 60) is shown with an orange line under the 2nd note on the piano diagram.

These note names are shown below on the treble clef followed by the bass clef.

On the treble clef, Middle C is shown with an orange ledger line below the main 5 staff lines.

On the bass clef, Middle C is shown with an orange ledger line above the main 5 staff lines.

ionian mode

ionian mode

ionian mode degrees
Note no.Degree name
1C is the tonic of the ionian mode
2D is the supertonic of the ionian mode
3E is the mediant of the ionian mode
4F is the subdominant of the ionian mode
5G is the dominant of the ionian mode
6A is the submediant of the ionian mode
7B is the leading tone of the ionian mode
8C is the octave of the ionian mode
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3
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2. ionian mode descending

This step shows the descending ionian mode on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.
ionian mode descending
No.1234567
NoteBAGFEDC

ionian mode descending

ionian mode descending

ionian mode descending

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

Lesson steps

1. Piano key note names

This step shows the white and black note names on a piano keyboard so that the note names are familiar for later steps, and to show that the note names start repeating themselves after 12 notes.

The white keys are named using the alphabetic letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, which is a pattern that repeats up the piano keyboard.

Every white or black key could have a flat(b) or sharp(#) accidental name, depending on how that note is used. In a later step, if sharp or flat notes are used, the exact accidental names will be chosen.

Sharp and flat note names

The audio files below play every note shown on the piano above, so middle C (marked with an orange line at the bottom) is the 2nd note heard.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

2. ionian mode tonic note and one octave of notes

This step shows an octave of notes in the ionian mode to identify the start and end notes of the mode.

The numbered notes are those that might be used when building this mode.

The ionian mode always starts on note C(when not transposed to another key).

Since this mode begins with note C, it is certain that notes 1 and 13 will be used in this mode.

Note 1 is the tonic note - the starting note - C, and note 13 is the same note name but one octave higher.

ionian mode chromatic scale-1 octave

ionian mode chromatic scale-1 octave
No.12345678910111213
NoteCC# / DbDD# / EbEFF# / GbGG# / AbAA# / BbBC
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

3. ionian mode note interval positions

This step applies the ionian mode note positions to so that the correct piano keys and note pitches can be identified.

In their simplest / untransposed form, modes do not contain any sharp or flat notes.

This can be seen by looking at the Mode table showing all mode names with only white / natural notes used.

The ionian mode uses the  W-W-H-W-W-W-H  note counting rule to identify the note positions of 7 natural white notes starting from note C.

To count up a Whole tone, count up by two physical piano keys, either white or black.

To count up a Half-tone (semitone), count up from the last note up by one physical piano key, either white or black.

The tonic note (shown as *) is the starting point and is always the 1st note in the mode.

ionian mode note positions

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.
ionian mode
No.12345678
NoteCDEFGABC

All notes in this mode are natural whites (ie. no sharps or flats), which mean that this mode has not been transposed into a different key.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

4. ionian mode descending

This step shows the notes when descending the ionian mode, going from the highest note sound back to the starting note.

For all modes, the notes names when descending are just the reverse of the ascending names.

So assuming octave note 8 has been played in the step above, the notes now descend back to the tonic.

ionian mode descending

ionian mode descending
No.1234567
NoteBAGFEDC
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

5. ionian mode degrees

This step shows the C scale degrees - Tonic, supertonic, mediant, subdominant, dominant, submediant, etc.
Each of the notes in this mode has a degree name, which describes the relationship of that note to the tonic(1st) note.

Scale degree names 1,2,3,4,5,6, and 8 below are always the same for all modes (ie. 1st note is always tonic, 2nd is supertonic etc.) , but obviously the note names will be different for each mode / key combination.

In this mode, the 7th note is called the leading note or leading tone because the sound of the 7th note feels like it wants to resolve and finish at the octave note, when all mode notes are played in sequence.

It does this because in this mode, the 7th note is only 1 semitone / half-tone away from the 8th note - the octave note. The lydian mode shares the same property - it only has one semitone / half-tone between the 7th and 8th notes.

In contrast, all other modes, including for example the phrygian mode, have a whole tone (two semitones, two notes on the piano keyboard) between the 7th and 8th notes, and the 7th note does not lean towards the 8th note in the same way. For these other modes, the 7th note is called the subtonic.

ionian mode degrees
Note no.Degree name
1C is the tonic of the ionian mode
2D is the supertonic of the ionian mode
3E is the mediant of the ionian mode
4F is the subdominant of the ionian mode
5G is the dominant of the ionian mode
6A is the submediant of the ionian mode
7B is the leading tone of the ionian mode
8C is the octave of the ionian mode
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