In the Octoechos there is a short poetic description of the characteristics of each tone, which you might find helpful.
The art of music marvels at your sounds,
Gives you the first place. Ah, how well deserved!
As you are called First Tone by music’s art,
First then be eulogised by us in words.
O First, the first of beauties you obtain;
First prize you hold of all in every place.
Though only second place in rank you hold,
First pleasure falls to you of honeyed flow.
Your melody, all honeyed and most sweet,
Cherishes bones and gives to hearts delight.
The Sirens surely sang in second Tone,
So gently flows your song with honeyed drops.
Though third, yet to express brave manly toils,
Close neighbour of the first are you, O Third.
Plain, simple, wholly masculine, O Third,
You are, and so we honour you, O Third.
Source of a multitude of equal count, O Third,
You to a well-tuned multitude belong.
A festal and a dancing tone, you bear
By musical opinion a fourth boast.
Dancers you welcome, and you form them too,
To voices give the prize, on cymbals beat.
You, the fourth Tone, as filled with melodies,
The serried lines of dancers eulogize.
Mournful you are and greatly pitying,
But for the most part rhythmically you dance.
O mind, which art with music has informed,
Which is the bent oblique of plagal tones?
Rank holds you fifth, but first of the unique,
And calls you so, O Plagal of the First.
Sixth tone in order, but by far the first,
You rank as second in the second group.
Double-compounded the delights you bear,
Though only second in the second rank.
O dulcet-toned cicada, honey-sweet,
Can any then not love you, fair tone six?
For regiments of hoplites a fit tune,
You take and bear the appellation grave.
One who hates thoughts to be expressed with shouts
Loves the plain tone that bears the title grave.
With manly song you murmur, second-third;
Though many-sided you have simple friends.
Seal of the tones, O Plagal of the Fourth,
As bearing in yourself all fairest sounds.
You broaden out the ranges of the songs,
The final flourish of the Tones, and end.
As limit in both notes and voices’ pitch,
Limit of sound I call you twice, and end.