(a) My personal mnemonics for the seven musical modes rely on four recurring patterns:
t, t-t-s, t-s-t, and s-t-t
(b) I associate each pattern with a word as follows:
t = "to"
t-t-s = "tits"
t-s-t = "test"
s-t-t = "stat"
Dropping the vowel from each word leaves the consonants of its associated pattern.
(c) The mnemonic phrases for the step patterns of the seven modes are:
t-t-s-t-t-t-s (Ionian) tits-to-tits
t-s-t-t-t-s-t (Dorian) test-to-test
s-t-t-t-s-t-t (Phrygian) stat-to-stat
t-t-t-s-t-t-s (Lydian) to-tits-tits
t-t-s-t-t-s-t (Mixolydian) tits-to-test
t-s-t-t-s-t-t (Aeolian) test-test-to
s-t-t-s-t-t-t (Locrian) stat-stat-to
(d) It's important to remember that each mode has two defining traits:
1. The note with which it starts:
2. The unique step pattern that flows from its starting note:
(e) Of the two defining traits for modes mentioned in (d), the second is the most consequential: The unique step pattern that flows from each mode's starting note.
When the modes become "scales," the starting note will be a matter of choice, establishing a given "key."
What will persist will be the application of each mode's step pattern to the notes that follow the key.