Ionian mode

Ionian mode

The Ionian mode is a musical mode of diatonic scale. It was part of the music theory of ancient Greece, and was based around the relative natural scale in C (that is, the same as playing all the 'white notes' of a piano from C to C). This simple scale was called the Hypophrygian mode in Greek theory, and the Ionian mode must have been a different, perhaps chromatic, variation of this.

The term "Ionian mode" fell into disuse in mediaeval Europe. Church music was based around eight musical modes: the relative natural scales in D, E, F and G, each with their authentic and plagal counterparts. However, Greek music theory was poorly understood, and the modes in G were called Mixolydian and Hypomixolydian (authentic and plagal modes, respectively).

In 1547, Heinrich Glarean published his "Dodecachordon". Central to its premise was the idea that there were twelve diatonic modes rather than eight. It seems that the additional modes were used in popular folk music, but were not part of the official church repertory. Glarean borrowed the Greek term "Ionian" for a quite different mode. He added "Ionian" as the name of the "new" eleventh mode: the relative natural mode in C with the perfect fifth as its dominant, reciting note or "tenor". The twelfth mode was the plagal version of the Ionian mode, called "Hypoionian" (under Ionian), based on the same relative scale, but with the major third as its "tenor", and having a melodic range from a perfect fourth below the tonic, to a perfect fifth above it.

As mediaeval monophonic church music was replaced by polyphonic music, the "folk" modes added by Glarean became the basis of the minor/major division of classical European music, the Ionian mode being the major mode.

The Ionian mode of Glarean is effectively the same as the ancient Greek Lydian mode and the modern major mode. However, it would not be correct to refer to any piece in a now-traditional major key as being in the Ionian mode, which would imply that the style of the piece was modal, which is usually not the case with music in a major key as understood today.


External links

* [ Ionian mode for guitar] at

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ionian mode — Ionic I*on ic, a. [L. Ionicus, Gr. ?, fr. ? Ionia.] [1913 Webster] 1. Of or pertaining to Ionia or the Ionians. [1913 Webster] 2. (Arch.) Pertaining to the Ionic order of architecture, one of the three orders invented by the Greeks, and one of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ionian mode — noun Usage: usually capitalized I 1. : the Greek hypophrygian mode 2. : an authentic ecclesiastical mode consisting of a pentachord and an upper conjunct tetrachord represented on the white keys of the piano by an ascending diatonic scale from C… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ionian mode — Music. an authentic church mode represented on the white keys of a keyboard instrument by an ascending scale from C to C. [1835 45] * * * …   Universalium

  • Ionian mode — noun Music the mode represented by the natural diatonic scale C–C (the major scale) …   English new terms dictionary

  • Ionian mode — /aɪˈoʊniən moʊd/ (say uy ohneeuhn mohd) noun a musical scale, represented by the white keys of a keyboard instrument, beginning on C …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Ionian — of Ionia, the districts of ancient Greece inhabited by the Ionians (including Attica and the north coast of the Peloponnesus, but especially the coastal strip of Asia Minor, including the islands of Samos and Chios). The name (which Herodotus… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Ionian — 1. adjective a) Relating to the Hellenic people of that name. b) Ionic, of Ionia, the ancient (ca 1100 BC) region including western Asia Minor and the adjacent Aegean Islands occupied by the Ionian people. See Also …   Wiktionary

  • Ionian — n. & adj. n. a native or inhabitant of ancient Ionia in W. Asia Minor. adj. of or relating to Ionia or the Ionians. Phrases and idioms: Ionian mode Mus. the mode represented by the natural diatonic scale C C. Etymology: L Ionius f. Gk Ionios …   Useful english dictionary

  • mode — mode1 /mohd/, n. 1. a manner of acting or doing; method; way: modern modes of transportation. 2. a particular type or form of something: Heat is a mode of motion. 3. a designated condition or status, as for performing a task or responding to a… …   Universalium

  • Musical mode — This article is about modes as used in music. For other uses, see Mode (disambiguation). Modern Dorian mode on C  Play …   Wikipedia

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