When it comes to guitar playing wisdom, the cup of Steve Vai overfloweth. He's great at fresh approaches to subjects that can traditionally seem complex. Take modes – want help identifying a mode in a way you can relate to? He can help, and he broke down seven different modes for Total Guitar and what they mean to him visually. We like it! So much so we've also linked to our free guitar lessons for each mode if you want to explore any further.
“It reminds me of Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music. Her wholesome, healthy image is very Ionian. She could be from the planet Ionia – or rather the island.”
“I think of snow, I think of a dark night in the Arctic. I think of No Quarter by Led Zeppelin. The image that song creates is what this mode is all about.”
“I see the Egyptian pyramids, the Sphinx and the amber sun shining above the desert. Egypt is the wrong image technically, but it works for me.”
“Maria from West Side Story. It’s my favourite mode, although I also really like the Lydian #5 and Lydian b7 modes from the melodic minor scale.”
"I think of a smoky jazz club, with funk horns blasting out, that's a big mixolydian sound."
“I remember the sound of the piano in my classroom at Berklee. My music teacher kept playing stuff in the Aeolian mode.”
“Like a diseased island. I think of Molokai in Hawaii, where there’s a leper colony. Scary and strange.”