MODES EXPLAINED – The Ultimate Multi-Tool for Improvising Musicians

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If you are trying to learn how to improvise on the saxophone you probably have come across modes in one form or another.

I’ve just released my latest course called the Harmonic Foundation which covers all the scales, chords, and music theory you need to know in order to improvise with confidence in all styles of music.

What follows is part of that course that should help you quickly get a grasp of how the modes work and how they get used in all kinds of music and improvising. It’s a lot easier than you may think. In fact, I made this pdf download for you which has all the music theory you need on one sheet of paper. I’m calling it my Music Theory Cheat Sheet, and I’m going to put it in the BetterSax Shed for you to download for free the link to get access to that is in the description below.

Whenever we study music theory, it’s so important that we apply what we learn to playing actual music on our instrument right away. If we don’t do that, the concepts tend to remain abstract and intangible.

The 7 Modes

There are 7 different modes:








Take a look at the video, I played 6 different modes over several different chords but only used 7 notes. Each of those modes shares the same exact notes as the C major scale. So you see, on paper it’s all a bit complicated but in reality it’s not.

Now while we may be able to fit all the music theory concepts we need on one sheet of paper, understanding all of that information takes a bit of study.

In my Harmonic Foundation course, I cover the modes in detail as well as many more topics starting from the most basic all the way up to pretty advanced stuff. I lay it all out for you in a way that is easily understandable and show you ways to practice the concepts on your instrument. This way you get the sound in your ear, the notes under your fingers and the concept fully absorbed into your brain so that you can actually use it when making music.

Music theory is a vast topic, but we don’t need every nuanced detail that you would find in a textbook. In practical application, the music theory we use is limited to a manageable range of topics that anyone can master with a bit of study and practice.

that’s the idea behind the Harmonic Foundation. It’s designed for people that want the necessary tools to make the music they are hearing on recordings and in their heads.

The Harmonic Foundation Course

If you purchase the course you’ll get lifetime access so there is no limit to how long you can work through the lessons and revisit them.

Along with the scale and chord exercises, I’ve included fun ear training exercises, quizzes and plenty of examples of me playing the concepts on my saxophone.

In total there are over 70 detailed video lessons containing more than 3 hours of content like this!

I’m looking forward  to helping you take your playing to the next level and beyond and hope to see you in the members area of 

Final Thoughts

Interested in more on music theory, scales, and other patterns? Check out “How You Can Use Melodies to Practice Your Fundamentals on Saxophone.”

Be sure to follow BetterSax on Facebook, InstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube. That way, you can stay up to date with us for news, giveaways, and other saxophone tips and tricks.

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One Comment

Matt Chambers-Rhea says:


I’m really enjoying going thru your Harmonic Foundations course. So much good stuff in there!

I was wondering if you could describe how you make your animations in the course? I teach theory/ear training at a university and would love to make similar animations that I can use in the classroom to demonstrate various concepts.




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