ModeWheel is a freeware music app for Windows & macOS that identifies any mode of four common Western scales in any chosen key. Watch and listen as the scale (or a simple II-V-I chord progression) is displayed on a piano keyboard. ModeWheel is intended to encourage music students to become more familiar with the subtle differences in color associated with each mode.
In case you are wondering why bother to care about these modes, be sure to check out the Why Modes? page for a brief discussion about how these can greatly enrich our compositions and improvisations.
ModeWheel was inspired by Danish jazz musician Oliver Prehn, who designed the print-based tool upon which this interactive mode wheel is based. It was with his kind permission that I was able to adapt and elaborate this template in a computer-friendly format. I encourage everyone to visit his superb YouTube lessons — all of which are available via his website at https://www.newjazz.dk . His very sensitive, supportive, and simple approach is intended to encourage everyone that it is possible to enjoy making music at any level of expertise.
Here is a screenshot of the ModeWheel window that displays the Major (Church) modes, with the Ionian scale in C as the default :
Choosing a mode and tonic rotates the mode wheel accordingly, displaying the notes of that mode on a keyboard, along with a simple II-V-I progression. There are several options to sound the scale and chord progression using the generic keyboard samples embedded in the application.
Watch a brief video of ModeWheel in action and more screenshots on the Features page.
Although ModeWheel displays the various modes in a way that can assist in learning to identify and practice these, I highly recommend Oliver Prehn’s YouTube lessons that demonstrate how these can be used to enrich your understanding of how modes and scales can be used in jazz improvisation.
A detailed Quickstart Manual for ModeWheel (in PDF format) is available on the Downloads page of this website, along with secure installers for the Windows and Mac versions.
I welcome your comments, feedback, and support via the Contact page of this website.