Scale Mode Fun

How many modes are there? I guess if we don't define what a "mode" is, then the answer is "an infinite number." So let's define a mode as the interval pattern of an eight-note scale from root to octave spanning seven intervals over twelve half-steps. With the constraints now set, we can easily calculate the number and it turns out to be a whopping 462!

We might expect most of these to be "garbage" modes that are too weird to be of any practical use. After all, if we count just those patterns that have half- and whole-step intervals, we find only 21 of them. Ok, so most of the rest probably aren't too interesting. Not so fast! If we look at the patterns that have at most an "augmented" interval (1 1/2 steps), we find no less than 245 patterns. That's a lot of interesting stuff to choose from, and some standard modes are in this group, including the Harmonic Minor.

I've included all 462 patterns in the tables below. The left column has the two groups described above plus the rest in a third table. The right column has all 462 listed together. If you find an unnamed pattern that has a standard name, please email me with the name and pattern number.

The scale patterns are described as note numbers from 1 to 8 with the interval designation between each note number as follows:

-half step
 (space) whole step
+ augmented (1 1/2 steps) 
(=#)# half steps


Show Named Modes Only  (includes intervals relative to Major)


Mode Intervals Name
Modes with Half and Whole Steps
Modes with Augmented Intervals
Other Modes
Mode Intervals Name
All Modes


Show Named Modes Only  (includes intervals relative to Major)


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