Composition Music Theory Top Posts

The Modal Compass

NOTE: This Modal Compass has gone through some generations. The latest versions (©2024 Milton Mermikides) – as featured in Gresham Lecture ‘The Colour Spectrum of Scales and Modes’ are here:

And ‘left-handed’ Dark to Bright (©2024 Mermikides)

Created by Skye Løfvander ( (2015 Løvander/Mermikides).

2015: Original. A way of visualising the relationship between the modes of the major scale. When I have time I’ll expand to other modal groups (and fix the dodgy alignments).

Modal Compass
(Visited 1,571 times, 1 visits today)

6 replies on “The Modal Compass”

Hello Milton,

Wonderful, congratulations!
The diagram reminded me of the ones I call ‘Mandalala’ and ‘Skalabbala’ which you can see in my folder ‘Patterns of Music’ on flickr, and I am a little bit envious that you found the missing link between them!
As you didn’t write a copyright notice I couldn’t resist trying to make a remix. Please let me know if I should remove it!



That’s much neater than mine! I really like your visualisations, what software do you use to make them? I’m thinking the scale degree adjustments should have arrowheads in both directions ( which is why I said eg 6th as opposed to specifying majority minor)that way you can keep spinning in one direction and (because of the root displacement) eventually get every major mode in every key!

I am glad you didn’t take offense! I have now made a new version allowing eternal spin, which replaces the old one on flickr.
I am not completely satisfied, so if you don’t mind I may try to improve it later.
I made a different version in black/white before you made me aware of the spin problem. See it here:

Hi Jay, I’ve updated the post above to include later generations. I own the copyright on the compass, were you wanting to do something with it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Menu Title