Holidays are Coming – 12 Beautiful Christmas Songs You Should Learn

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again and Fretello brings you the perfect way to send this year’s holiday greetings.

You can find scores for rhythm and melody for our favorite holiday songs to get into holiday mood in this post. We have also selected 24 videos that our users recorded with our Fretello Stage app. Until December 24th, we are posting one of these videos on Facebook on a daily basis.

O Holy Night

O Holy Night is a well-known Christmas carol. Originally, Adolphe Adam, a wine merchant and poet, composed it to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens”.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls is a traditional Christmas, yuletide, and New Years’ carol. The melody is Welsh dating back to the sixteenth century, and belongs to a winter carol, while the English lyrics date to 1862.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree is a German Christmas song. Based on a traditional folk song, it became associated with the traditional Christmas tree by the early 20th century and sung as a Christmas carol.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come, All Ye Faithful is a Christmas carol which has been attributed to various authors, including John Francis Wade, John Reading and King John IV of Portugal.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns. It is set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries for its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We Wish You a Merry Christmas is a popular English Christmas carol from the West Country of England. Its text dates back to a custom, where people used to perform inside or outside of people’s homes, greeting them with:

I wish you a merry Christmas // And a happy New Year,
A pantryful of good roast-beef // And barrels full of beer.

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Joy to the World:

As of the late 20th century, Joy to the World was the most-published holiday season hymn in North America. The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts’ collection.

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Jingle Bells

Jingle Bells is one of the best-known and commonly sung American songs in the world.  James Lord Pierpont published it under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the autumn of 1857. Originally, Pierpont wrote it for the Thanksgiving season. Thus, it had no direct connection to Christmas.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

O du Fröhliche (O, How Joyful)

O du fröhliche is a German Christmas carol. The author of the original text was the prominent Weimar orphan father Johannes Daniel Falk, who set his lyric to the anonymous hymn-tune O Sanctissima.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Verison

Leise rieselt der Schnee (Snow Falls Softly at Night)

Leise rieselt der Schnee is one of the most popular holiday songs in German language. Eduard Ebel, a Protestant cleric, composed it as a holiday greeting for the winter season.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

Silent Night, Holy Night

Franz Xaver Gruber composed the most popular Christmas song all over the world in 1818 in the small town of Oberndorf in Salzburg, Austria. Unesco declared it an intangible cultural heritage in 2011. A large number of singers has recorded the song in every music genre possible.

Get the full sheet music for free: Beginner Version or Advanced Version

You can find backing tracks for all our holiday songs in our app Fretello Stage. Play your favorite holiday season songs, record yourself and send musical greeting cards to family and friends.

Building Strong Melodies with Triads

What do Toto’s Rosanna, Kool & The Gang’s Celebration, and Van Halen’s Jump have in common? Right, a strong hookline – a strong melody that makes you recognize the song immediately.

Hooklines are catchy melodies, linear successions of single tones. Acoustically, you can perceive one tone after the other. However, there are many examples where guitarists harmonize each tone of their melodies. Instead of playing just single tones, they replace them with chords.

What are triads?

Before we are going to play above named songs, you need to learn a few basics about triads. A triad is a set of three notes, typically related to a scale, that are played simultaneously. For simplicity reasons we will build triads from the C major scale. The C major scale consists of the tones c d e f g a b c. A common triad consists of a root note (1), a third (3) and a fifth (5). So let us build a triad, a chord with three different notes, on each of the seven scale degrees.

The triad built on the first scale degree (I) of C major consists of the notes c e g:

C major triad

The triad built on the second scale degree (II) of C major consists of the notes d f a:

D minor triad

Every major scale contains only one semitone between scale degrees III and IV and between VII and VIII. Other scale degrees are separated by two semitones, a whole tone. As a result, a third can be a major third, whose notes are separated by four semitones, or a minor third, whose notes are separated by three semitones. This can be seen in the following fretboard diagrams and is very important for the specific structure of the resulting triads.

Major triads

When we take a closer look at the thirds in the following, you will see that every major scale contains three different kinds of triads. By looking at the triad at the first scale degree of C major c e g we will see that the interval c e is a major third and the interval e g is a minor third:

C major triad guitar fretboard

Hence, this triad is called a major triad. Besides the triad built on the first scale degree (I), also the ones built on the fourth (IV) and the fifth (V) scale degree of every major scale are major triads. They consist of a major third, located four semitones above the root, and a perfect fifth, located seven semitones above their root.

C Major Triad (Scale Degree I)


F Major Triad (Scale Degree IV)


G Major Triad (Scale Degree V)


You can use the following two shapes to play major triads on your guitar. In this case, the diagrams display two options to play a C major triad in root position. To play any other major triad, just shift these patterns horizontally on the fretboard.

C major triad based on the A major guitar chord shape

C major triad based on E major guitar chord shape

Minor triads

The triad built at the second scale degree of C major d f a is different. If we take a closer look at its intervals, we will see that there are three semitones between the first third d f and four semitones between the second third f a:

Hence, this triad is called a minor triad. Besides the triad built on the second scale degree (II), also the ones built on the third (III) and the sixth (VI) scale degree of every major scale are minor triads. They consist of a minor third, located three semitones above the root, and a perfect fifth, located seven semitones above the root.

D Minor Triad (Scale Degree II)


E Minor Triad (Scale Degree III)


A Minor Triad (Scale Degree VI)


You can use the following two shapes to play minor triads on your guitar. The diagrams show two options to play a D minor triad in root position. To play any other minor triad, just shift these patterns horizontally on the fretboard.

D minor triad based on A minor guitar chord shape

D minor triad based on E minor guitar chord shape

Diminished Triads

If you counted correctly, we identified three major triads and three minor triads. But every major scale contains seven different scale degrees. So what about the remaining scale degree? Did we forget about it?

No, we did not. But the seventh scale degree (VII) of the major scale is special. Taking a closer look at it, you will see that its fifth differs from all the other triads. There are three semitones between the first third b d and another three semitones between the second third d f. So, the fifth is only six semitones above the root note. As a result, it is called a diminished fifth:

Instead of a major third stacked on top of a minor third or a minor third stacked on top of a major third, two minor thirds are stacked on top of each other. This triad is called a diminished triad. If you try to play this triad, you will find out that it sounds quite awkward compared to the others.

B Diminished Triad (Scale Degree VII)


You can use the following two shapes to play diminished triads on your guitar. The diagram shows how to play a Bdim chord. You can play any diminished chord by horizontally shifting the pattern.

B diminished triad based on A guitar chord shape

B diminished triad based on E guitar chord shape

The triads of the C major scale

Congratulations, you have just built your first triads. Now let’s have a look at all triads built on every scale degree of the C major scale.

  Degree   Root    Third    Fifth  


  Degree    Interval    Chord    
I1 3 5C
II1 b3 5Dm
III1 b3 5Em
IV1 3 5F
V1 3 5G
VI1 b3 5Am
VII1 b3 b5Bmb5

A simple exercise

Try to play the following chord progressions in C major and A minor using only the chord shapes we showed you in this post. Each line of the following image represents a separate exercise.

The first and third exercise are chord progressions of the scale degrees I IV V I, which is known as classical cadence, in C major and in A minor. The second and fourth exercise is a progression of the scale degrees I II V I, which is known as jazz cadence. We will reveal the solution in the second part of this tutorial next week.

Music cadencies in C major

Note: If you are not aware of this, the A minor scale contains the same notes as the C major scale. As described in this previous post, the minor scale just starts on the sixth scale degree of the major scale, which in the case of C major is the a.

Have you noticed that the Bmb5 chord in the fourth exercise does not sound as awkward as before, when you play it as isolated chord? The reason therefore is that the tension the chord produces by its diminished fifth is properly resolved by dropping the f (diminished fifth of Bmb5) by one semitone to an e (root of Em) playing the successive chord.

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What next?

When you want to harmonize your hooklines like Van Halen instead of building melodies with single tones, basic knowledge about triads gives you already some options to do so. Identify the scale degrees of the melody you want to play, find triads from the scale of the song containing the notes and you will get a cool 80’s rock feeling a la Van Halen or Queen.

Do not worry if you struggle putting your fingers at the right positions of the chord shapes in the beginning. Your fingers are probably not used to them and your brain needs to build muscle memory for the positions first. If you are a beginner, it is also easier to start learning guitar with single note shapes instead of chords, like you do in our app Fretello.

In our next post we will talk about triad inversions. With the trick we will show you, you will know everything you need to shred like good old Eddie Van Halen. All you have to remember is the few chord shapes we teach you.

Interview with DragonForce’s Herman Li on How To Practice Guitar

In our last article, we showed you how Magnus Karlsson learned to play and structure his practice routine. This week, we are going to present you another exceptional artist, we talked to at Musikmesse Frankfurt: DragonForce’s Herman Li.

“If I don’t practice systematically, I won’t be able to play my own songs anymore within two weeks”

Over the last few years DragonForce have established themselves as one of the premier bands in today’s metal scene. They are just about to release their new album “Reaching Into Infinity” with which they want to take their guitar power to the next level.

You are never to old to become a good guitar player

The DragonForce guitarist told us that he was already 16 when he picked up a guitar for the very first time. A few years later he started DragonForce with Sam: “We wanted to do something with melodic singing – something catchy and melodic”, he told us.

When he started to play, Herman listened a lot to rock guitar players like Bon Jovi. Later on Metallica, Megadeth and Dream Theater have been very influential. “When we started the band”, he told us, “we were also listening to a lot of thrash, death, power and progressive metal. That’s the music we enjoyed listening to”.

How to write solos

Sam and Herman have different approaches for writing lead lines at DragonForce. Sam works every single solo out. He writes everything down before he starts playing it. So he works it out with the chords and then he’ll practice it and records it. Herman’s method is slightly different: “My method is based on improvisation. I play as long as it takes until I find something that I like. Somehow, I like the magic of surprise of improvising. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Then I’m trying to figure out what I’ve just played”.

Structure your practice plans

When we spoke about practice plans, Herman pointed out that you need to have a clear structure for your practice routines, which is exactly what we do in Fretello: “Start out with a specific shape of a scale. Practice it vertically until you can remember it. Then learn the other positions. Then start to combine them, play horizontally and finally diagonally”.

According to Herman, you can get most out of your practice routine if you practice scales to music and not only to a metronome.

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Guitar solos and video games

DragonForce is heavily influenced by video games, which you can hear in “Through the Fire and the Flames” for example. In order to be able to play killer solos like in the video below, Herman told us that he has to practice every day to keep that level: “If I don’t practice, I won’t be able to play my own songs within 2 weeks”.

Magnus Karlsson: Interview and Guitar Practice Hints

At Musikmesse Frankfurt, we took our chance for an interview with Swedish songwriter, guitarist, guitar teacher and producer Magnus Karlsson. Here’s what you can learn from him about practicing guitar efficiently.

Shapes, Patterns and Improvisation

Magnus started playing guitar at the age of 10. When he was 17, he seriously got into practicing. As he told us, he would have been thankful for an app like Fretello when he started practicing, because he also focused intensively on building muscle memory for 3 notes per string scales: “I practiced the different musical modes for years. I really enjoyed to see how I got faster bit by bit playing all kinds of different patterns.”

For the Primal Fear guitarist, being able to recall specific patterns and shapes from memory without having to think about is an essential skill: “If you want to play stuff like I do, you have to practice. Nobody just improvises. 75% of my playing is about recalling shapes and patterns.”

Definition, Attack and Sweep Picking

Like every good guitar player, Magnus has defined his unique playing style. Most notably, Magnus is left handed, although he plays right handed guitar. When he plays, he uses a lot of Legato bindings. Also he loves to sweep a lot: “I’m a bit lazy with picking, because my left hand is faster. And whenever I get nervous, I start to sweep.” To him, sweep picking is just like riding a bicycle: Once you figure it out, you will never forget it again.

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Regardless of practicing or playing, Magnus told us that you should always focus on a clear definition and attack when you play, which you can see in the following video.

Currently, Magnus is working together with Ronnie Romero (Lords of Black, Rainbow) on a brand-new project album called The Ferrymen. It will be released on June 2nd this year.

Why Practicing Guitar with Backing Tracks Is Important (and Also More Fun)!

Backing tracks are a great way to improve your guitar playing. They will help you improve your scale knowledge, technique, tone, and your sense of rhythm. Also, it’s a lot more fun than practicing with only a metronome. Jam sessions are the right place where you can take all the scales, arpeggios, and licks you’re working on, and put them to use.

How to Practice with Backing Tracks?

Just simply improvise and solo over the tracks as much as you want or you can practice your scales and arpeggios with whole, half, quarter, eighth notes, etc. Use the different tempos to help you get faster and improve your technique. Also, improvise using the individual scales. This will help you hear the differences between each scale. Backing tracks are also a great tool if you want to work on some melodies!

Jam Session

When you jam, pay attention to the vibe or feel of each of scale when played over the backing track.  Once you add these to your vocabulary, you can uses those differences in tonal qualities to add flavor to your improvisations.  Getting comfortable with recognizing how different scales sound over tracks will make it much easier for you to identify scales when you hear them in songs you’re listening to.  This will really help your ability to figure out melodies and solos you here in your favorite tunes!

Fretello Backing Track Catalog

To demonstrate the concept of practicing over these backing tracks, we just launched a backing track catalog. The catalog comes with more than 7000 different backing track combinations from pop, rock, blues and heavy & metal you can jam to. You can use the backing tracks at the various tempos as your skills build.

You can start your own jam session right now, and the best thing: It’s completely free.

What You Can Learn From Wes Borland’s Guitar Style

Wes Borland is best known as the current guitarist and backing vocalist of the nu metal band Limp Bizkit. He gained popularity when Limp Bizkit achieved mainstream success in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Unjustly, he’s more popular for his elaborate visual appearance, which has included face and body paint, masks and uniforms. If you take a closer look, you’ll find out that his guitar playing is quite unique and compelling, not least because of his sonic experimentation.

The Wes Borland Guitar Playing Style

In order to identify Borland’s style, we need to nail down exactly what he does on the guitar that makes up his sound.

Let’s make a few notes of his most obvious techniques:

  • Quick, staccato-style, single-note picking with heavy phaser pedal and envelope effects. Example Song: “My Way”
  • Heavy chorus riffs using repetitive patterns and low tunings. Example Song: “My Generation”
  • Hammer on and pull-off chords and quick chord changes. Example Song: “Just Like This”

If you were to summarize Borland’s style, these are the traits that would most aptly describe his playing tendencies. In almost every Limp Bizkit song you can hear them applied.

Many argue that this is just basic nu-metal, following in the footsteps of Korn. Although Borland and Limp Bizkit as a band derived a lot of inspiration from Korn, they expanded what Korn was doing and provided a variation on a theme. You don’t need to re-invent the theme but, you do need to provide some variety.

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Practice Methods

Here are a few things we can practice to improve our own playing that are specifically useful for heavy nu-metal sounds.

Practice clean and meaningful melodies

This may seem obvious, but practicing melodies and learning how to use effects to enhance them is a skill worth honing.

Learn how to use compound intervals

Per definition, compound intervals are intervals that are greater than an octave. And Borland uses a lot of them. For example, in the “Livin it Up” riff, Borland starts at an E♭ and moves up to a perfect fifth which is seven semitones above the root. However, since it’s a compound interval, the fifth (a B♭) occurs on the high E (first string) on the ninth fret. If you take a closer look, you’ll find out that being able to skip strings and make things sound fluid is a great skill to have at your disposal. Using compound intervals like this is an efficient way of building melodies that span multiple octaves.

Practice heavy, low-end and single note progressions before full chords

For more impact during a full chorus, Borland usually plays a single note version of a chord progression (i.e. just the root note) before instead of using full chords.

Speed up your chord progressions

Being repetitive isn’t always a bad thing and the quickness that Borland puts in his riffs combined with the repeating gives his music a lot of energy.

Beyond that, you’re depending on your own creativity to come up with riffs that are the same kind of high energy and drive that Borland has used to keep fans pumped up for more than a decade. The guitar playing is simple and repetitive. But again, you’re looking for a variation on a theme.

If you were to summarize Borland’s techniques, it is all about accuracy and speed. And a great way to improve accuracy and speed is to work on your fingerings and fretting positions with our app Fretello.

How to Tap Like Eddie Van Halen

Although Eddie Van Halen wasn’t technically the first person to do it, tapping is the technique he made famous. Tapping involves hammering on the fretboard with your picking hand to produce a note. Then you subsequently pull off to notes fingered by your fret hand. The involvement of the picking hand in this fashion is called a tap. It is usually represented by a “T” in tablature.

In most cases of tapping the fret hand uses a series of hammer-ons and pull offs in conjunction with the tapped notes from the picking hand to facilitate a series of quick, smooth, fluid notes.

Lick of the Week

Although “Eruption” from Van Halen’s first album is probably the most popular example for tapping, we’re going to show you a different song today. The intro of Hot for a Teacher is the track that started a huge tapping frenzy as nothing like it had been heard before. Scores of guitar players learned and copied the technique seemingly overnight. By the late 80’s it seemed that every rock guitarist used the technique.

Hot For Teacher is technically and audibly very accomplished. Released in 1984 from the album of that year, it is the basis for many sexually suggestive songs about high-school teachers. In this tutorial we break down the fast opening two-handed tapped riff and the arpeggios they cover.

Learning the Intro

The key to the sound of Hot for Teacher is the empty string Eddie uses for the phrasing. Another thing which is typical for Eddie is repeating certain patterns with the exact same fingering on different strings regardless of the key signature a song is written in. As a result, many of his riffs contain tones from other scales that cause harmonic dissonances.


When you start learning the riff, make sure that you really start slow in the beginning. Find out what the max tempo is that you can play the tempo. Your actual practice tempo is then half of your max.

5 Things You Gotta Do To Play Like Eddie Van Halen

It’s well established that Eddie Van Halen is one of rock guitar’s most influential and imitated lead guitarists. But it’s often ignored that he is also one of the greatest rhythm stylists. For that reason, and to celebrate Van Halen’s 62nd birthday, we’ll show you 5 things you gotta do to play like Eddie.

1. Do It Yourself

Eddie Van Halen admitted that among others he had ruined a vintage Les Paul and an ES-335 in his quest to build the ultimate rock axe. The result was a mix of a Strat-shaped ash body from Charvel, an unfinished birdseye maple neck, hardware from a 1958 Stratocaster and a hard-mounted Gibson P.A.F. humbucker, which was custom wound and potted in wax to mute coil squeal at high volumes. Eddie also spray-painted his first guitar himself, striped its body with tape and painted it white. That’s how rock’s most famous guitar was build for about $150 bugs.

“I hate store-bought, off the rack guitars. They don’t do what I want them to do, which is kick ass and scream”

Because it was so cool, guitar manufacturers started to build imitations of Eddie’s guitar, which pissed him really off. As a result, Eddie even sued the company that actually built his guitar’s body.

2. Play Nasty If You Talk Nasty

Van Halen never minced matters. In the 1970, he was best known and not loved by everyone because of his roguish and cocky appearance. Van Halen’s songs reflect this attitude, delivering dirty tricks in clever ways, and always with a smile.

“Rock music critics like Elvis Costello because rock music critics look like Elvis Costello.”

For example, composed on piano and full of bright major and sus4 harmonies, the tone and phrasing of  Van Halen’s “Unchained” demonstrates this lifestyle by radiating arrogance backed by an open, detuned sixth string, which is dropped an extra whole-step for this song,

3. Don’t Underestimate the Blues

The biggest mistake many glammed-out ’80s Van Halen wannabes made was to underestimate the influence the blues had on Eddie Van Halen. ”

“I know every fu*kin’ solo Clapton ever played, note for note”

For example, when you slow down the turbo shuffle riff that opens “I’m the One” you discover it’s just a basic 12/8 blues theme. Slow down classic Van Halen solos, and you discover that many of them are based elements from the blues.

4. Find Your Style

Believe it or not, but Eddie Van Halen invented the tapping. Although other players were likely experimenting with similar approaches at the same time, it was Eddie Van Halen, who tapped into the divine.

In songs like “Jump” or “Hot for Teacher”, Van Halen’s tapping agilely hops from string to string. However, the best way to learn it is by stealing simple single-string shapes from the baroque tap cadenza that closes “Eruption”.

5. Erupt!

It’s funny that Eddie Van Halen has had to defend the presence of instrumentals on his albums over the years. If producer Ted Templeman had not insisted the guitarist include his 1978 backstage warm-up routine on the band’s debut, the world would be without the hard rock guitar cadenza against which all others are measured: “Eruption”. If you can fire off even a few of the fretboard pyrotechnics he uses in this white-hot guitar fireworks display, you’ll surely elicit some oohs and ahs.

Later this week, we’re going to show you how to play Van Halen’s famous tapping intro for his song “Hot for a Teacher”.

The Magic Behind Musical Modes

Modes are extremely powerful. Yet even the most experienced songwriters and musicians overlook them. Most people don’t even know exactly what a mode is. They seem intimidated by it all because it sounds like a complex system of codes that only the music theory elite can decipher. Well guess what: We’ll show you how easy they are, how they sound and how you can use them to invoke different emotions and feelings.

What are modes?

Modes are alternative tonalities, also known as scales. They can be derived from the familiar major scale by just starting on a different scale tone. Modes are named after the ancient Greek modes, although they do not share an actual similarity.

For every key signature there are exactly seven modes of the major scale: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. All modes in that key signature use the same notes, but they start on different ones.

Why do modes sound so different?

Next you will learn that all modes are derived from the major scale by starting on a different scale degree. But why does each mode produce a different feeling, although they basically consist of the exact same notes?

Our ears generally latch onto something we think of as the tonal center. The tonal center is the tone your ear expects the melody to return to from time to time and which feels restful when you get there. Then as other notes are used, we accumulate this sense of how intervals within each octave are patterned. That’s what makes a tune feel different. It’s how the human brain perceives music.

Now let’s have a closer look at the different modes to get a better feeling for them.

The Ionian Mode

Music that uses the traditional major scale can be said to be in the first mode of the major scale, also known as Ionian.  Its bright sounding is well-liked in pop, rock, classical, jazz, punk and country:


The Ionian scale is made up of seven notes with a characteristic succession of whole and half tone steps, which is referred to as “diatonic”. For example, in the key of C the Ionian scale consists of the notes c-d-e-f-g-a-b-c.

As you probably remember from school, there are naturally occurring half steps between e & f and b & c. If you look at the picture above, you will see that the half steps of this modes are located between the 3rd & 4th and 7th & 8th scale degrees.

Finally, you can produce a bright and happy timbre by playing the Ionian scale over a C major chord for example.

The Aeolian Mode

The other familiar mode is Aeolian. It can be derived by starting the Ionian (major) scale on the sixth scale tone. For example, A Aeolian (a-b-c-d-e-f-g-a) is derived from from the C Ionian scale by starting on its 6th note, hence 6th mode. This scale is commonly known as the natural minor scale, which creates a sad and oppressive timbre:


The Aeolian scale consists of the exact same seven notes as the Ionian scale, so what’s the difference? The trick is that the intervals are different.

By starting the scale from a different position, we basically shift the intervals. The naturally occurring half steps are still between e & f and b & c, but their position has changed. Now they can be found between the 2nd & 3rd and the 5th & 6th scale degrees.

Finally, we can create a sad and oppressive timbre by playing the Aeolian scale over an A minor chord for example.

The Dorian Mode

Dorian is the second mode of the major scale. It sounds cheeky, partly sad, but in a hopeful way. It’s prominent in blues, rock, jazz and funk.


Many popular are written in the Dorian mode, such as Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd), Get Lucky (Daft Punk) or Radioactive (Imagine Dragons).

By starting on the second note of C Ionian, the naturally occurring half steps are shifted between the 2nd & 3rd and 6th & 7th scale degrees. You can think of this mode as a natural minor scale with a raised 6th, also known as the Dorian 6th.

Finally, we can create a cheeky timbre by playing the Dorian scale over a D minor chord for example.

The Phrygian Mode

Phrygian is the third mode of the major scale. It produces a darkly and tension-filled sound:


Its Spanish and oriental timbre is much loved in heavy metal, jazz and flamenco music. For example, Metallica wrote the intro of their song Wherever I May Roam in Phrygian. Another popular song that uses the Phrygian scale is Olé by John Coltrane.

By starting on the third note of the C Ionian scale, the naturally occurring half steps are shifted between the 1st & 2nd and 5th & 6th scale degrees. You can think of this mode as a natural minor scale with a flatted 2nd, also known as the Phrygian 2nd.

Finally, we can create an oriental timbre by playing the Phrygian scale over a E minor chord for example.

The Lydian Mode

The Lydian mode is the fourth mode of the major scale. It stands out due to its mystical tone color:


Lydian is mainly used in Jazz and appears only seldom in other genres. Despite, there are a few popular songs that use the Lydian mode such as I Overture 1928 (Dream Theater) and The Riddle (Steve Vai).

By starting on the fourth note of the C Ionian scale, the naturally occurring half steps are shifted between the 4th & 5th and 7th & 8th scale degrees. You can think of this mode as a major scale with a raised 4th, also known as the Lydian 4th.

Finally, we can create a mystical timbre by playing the Lydian scale over a F major chord for example.

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The Mixolydian Mode

Mixolydian, identical to the 5th mode of the major scale, is wildly popular in blues, rock, jazz and funk because of the bluesy but also phony sound it creates:


One of the most popular examples for the Mixolydian mode is the song Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns n’ Roses.

By starting on the fifth note of the C Ionian scale, the naturally occurring half steps are shifted between the 3th & 4th and 6th & 7th scale degrees. You can think of this mode as a major scale with a flatted 7th, also known as the Mixolydian 7th.

Finally, we can create a bluesy timbre by playing the Mixolydian scale over a G major chord for example.

The Locrian Mode

Locrian, the 7th mode of the major scale, concludes our list of the seven modes of the major scale.


Being the most dissonant interval in western music, it creates an unstable and tense sound.

By starting on the seventh note of the C Ionian scale, the naturally occurring half steps are shifted between the 1st & 2nd and the 4th & 5th scale degrees. It is the relationship between the root and the flatted 5th, known as a tritone (i.e. 3 whole tones), which creates this sound. From at least the early 18th century this tritone was described as diabolus in musica (the Devil in music).

Finally, we can create a weird timbre by playing the Locrian scale over a Bmb5 chord for example.

Last but not least, don’t sit down and force a song you write into a certain mode unless you intend to experiment. Modes are a great tool, but you would also not fix a toaster with a spatula. If you want to practice modes and scales efficiently, check out our app Fretello. It helps you to master the major scale and its seven modes within a short period of time.

Artist of the Week – Zakk Wylde

Nobody rocks the Gibson Les Paul like Zakk Wylde. As Ozzy Osbourne’s lead guitarist, his driving stage show, furious soloing and fast picking style earned him legions of fans. Currently, Zakk rocks the stage as the frontman for Black Label Society.

How Zakk Started to Learn Guitar

Zakk was a huge  Black Sabbath fan. He loved the stuff Tony Iommi and Randy Rhoads were doing on guitar so he decided to start playing. Zakk took lessons from a guy named Leroy Wright at the age of 15. When Zakk saw Wright play it blew him away. He thought it was the coolest thing on the planet. He was so intrigued by the whole thing that he decided that playing guitar is the thing he wants to do with his life. And to this day he has still got the same hard-on. All Zakk does is listening to great players thinking that he always can get better. Zakk says can never get tired of that.

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With Fretello, you can become the guitar player you always wanted to be. Download the Fretello Lead app, grab your guitar and start practicing now!

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Zakk’s Practice Routine

Usually, when Zakk picks up his guitar he just starts going through scales, everything that is diatonic. Zakk usually also goes through a batch of pentatonic patterns before he starts playing. When it comes to playing, Zakk points out that he might start playing anything he wants. If there’s something he wants to learn, he just learns it.

“If there’s something I want to learn, I’ll just learn it.”

As far as technique goes, you are always practicing and maintaining your technique and trying to do different things.  In case of Zakk, he learned along the way how solos have to fit the songs.  He also learned much about writing music. In his opinion, all great musicians write their own music.  Whether it is Randy Rhoads playing Over the Mountain or Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption, or Bach or Mozart, according to Zakk they are the real musicians because they wrote their own music.