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Modes: don't you just love 'em?

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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Daniel Davis » Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:41 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
Daniel Davis wrote:Most songs today are indeed in Major and Minor (Ionian and Aolian)

Locrian is barely used due to the lack of a major or minor chord on the root - Sad But True

Why sad? Locrian (like the VII chord) exists in theory. In practice it's not much use, or always actually sounds like something else. That's fine, isn't it?

That would be the song 'Sad but True' by Metallica
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby meritonemusic » Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:37 am


I've put together a playlist of free practice backing tracks for the 7 major scale modes that you guys might find useful as well...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m37y2mltNNI&list=PLVVk2nQ5iO89AH9bzJPESyjrgs7QUCQUo

They all start from the same place (C), so that you can really learn, compare and internalise the unique pattern of each mode.


Happy practising :)
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Daniel Davis » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:29 am

It's not that any of you are saying anything wrong, it's all good, but I am going to give away a secret. This will be in a book I am writing, so credit me it you reproduce it.

The only reason the 7 modes (not the more exotic ones) line up on a keyboard is because the keyboard and modes are derived from the same theory and NOT BECAUSE THE MODES ARE DERIVED FROM A MAJOR SCALE. Yes it's not a bad way of remembering patterns - I'll give you that. But the pattern of the keyboard hides the underlying pattern of the modes.

If you pick 7 tones from 12 = 7C12 = 792 possible 7-note scales. So why do we use these 7? and why are there only 7?

I have some lovely diagrams demonstrating all these points, but don't know if I can attatch a file here. but see if you can follow the main points without picture...

The most popular mode before the introduction of tonality in the 18th Century was Dorian.

Dorian has the Tonic (or Final) plus 3 steps up on the cycle of 5ths and 3 steps down on the cycle of fifths. It was seen as balanced and perfect.

e.g. F - C - G - D - A - E - B

All of the other modes are also consecutive steps on the cycle of fifths just with different numbers of fifths up and down. That is why there are 7.

Lydian = 6 up F - C - G - D - A - E - B
Major = 5 up 1down F - C - G - D - A - E - B
Mixolydian = 4 up 3 down F - C - G - D - A - E - B
Dorian = 3 up 3 down F - C - G - D - A - E - B
Aolean = 2 up 4 down F - C - G - D - A - E - B
Phygian = 1 up 5 down F - C - G - D - A - E - B
Locrian = 6 down F - C - G - D - A - E - B

The same reason gives us the pattern of the keyboard - all the white notes are consecutive steps on the cycle of fifths.

The same reason shows why in order to go up a fifth you need to add one more sharp to the key signature.

The same reason shows why the sharps and flats come in the order that they do.

The same reason is used to derive Temperaments.

and so on...

That cycle of fifths diagram you find in all the textbooks is not just for show!

So remembering the white notes is a good memory aid - but I hope understanding the actual derivation of modes makes them simpler for you.

Editor... if you want an article on this just ask.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:21 pm

Daniel Davis wrote:
The most popular mode before the introduction of tonality in the 18th Century was Dorian.

I'm curious about this -- most popular in what context?

As part of my slightly random quest to dig up obscure folk songs I bought a copy of Simpson's The British Broadside Ballad And Its Music. Most of the tunes printed there are from the 16th and 17th century, and it's noticeable that very few of them use the minor modes that have a flat seventh, such as Dorian and Aeolian. I'm not sure you would hear those modes much in composers like Dowland or Purcell either, would you?

In songs collected from folk singers in the 19th and 20th centuries, by contrast, these modes are very common.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Daniel Davis » Tue Jun 17, 2014 1:09 pm

Dorian was the most popular mode in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Something like half of all plainchant is Dorian. Obviously polyphonic music derived from plainchant has a similar distribution of modes.

The move from modal to tonal music happened gradually - so yes, there is a lot of music in 16th and 17th century which starts flattening the 6th in Dorian - even though to our ears with a flattened sixth it must be Aeolean and the major sixth is THE characteristic of Dorian. There is also a lot of musica ficta where accidentals were used in performance which are not notated.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Jun 17, 2014 3:14 pm

Interesting. So when did the modern minor scale with the sharp seventh become the norm? It must have been well under way by the late 16th century at least in some quarters -- it's very noticeable in the Elizabethan tunes in Simpson etc (like the most well known version of Greensleeves).

I wonder whether folk song as transmitted orally continued to use the older modes all the time, or whether it reverted to them later.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Jathon Delsy » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:04 am

Modes and scales are great, but as a composer I think in terms of interval and harmonies, trying to reflect the poetry and message of my vision as best I can using all the notes and intervals.
But in the past I studied all the modes extensively, and this has been an invaluable help in training my ear and learning my technique.
I suppose modes are a bit like the rules of grammar when speaking or writing. They're there, but it's what your saying that really matters.
However, it's good to be able to hear clearly in your mind the distinctive sound of each mode, and develop an emotional connection(s) with this sound, as this will give you a palate of colours and feelings to use, and the ability to articulate them musically.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Vilen » Wed May 13, 2015 6:55 pm

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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Vilen » Wed May 13, 2015 6:59 pm

The use of the mode D in plainchant may be possibly explained in the following way: if we consider diatonic scale in in order of Pythagorean tuning then we get the sequence of notes F, C, G, D, A, E, B.
It is known that the nearer notes in sequence of Pythagorean tuning the stronger their temporal ties, namely those which exist thank to overtones. The note D is exactly in the center of this sequence. It may mean that the note D is most valid as central note of melody. Later temporal ties were more and more provided by chord and chord progressions and d mode was driven back by major and minor modes.

Greetins
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Guest » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:32 pm

Without knowing nowt about say nuclear fusion, I’m fully aware that our Sun gets bloody ‘ot and its ‘eat travels 90 odd million miles to Earth and can burn me skin and or scorch the Earth…

All this pontificating is all well an’ good, but intervals/voice leading are intervals/voice leading regardless of modes, ain’t they?

So just use your ears, I’d written a good few tunes in several modes I was completely unaware/ignorant of at the time of writing, didn’t even know there was such a thing as a pentatonic scale, but it didn’t stop me composing plenty of half decent music within its narrow defining parameters

Also, for the record, there’s no such thing as a “key change,” especially as it opposes most of wot’s being touted ‘ere… er, I think.

Those that can do, those that cain’t, teach.

Teachers, (though highly valuable) I can do without, especially when concerning the Arts, you can’t be instructed in genius.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby SecretSam » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:03 am

Modes are useful when deciding what scales to play over a chord progression.

For example, a knowledge of C minor modes will tell you that if a piece is in C harmonic minor, then a chord notated as D minor probably requires a D min scale with a flat 5 and a natural sixth. This can come in handy. You could work it out for yourself, or learn it from a book. Eventually you will come to see it as common sense, and at that point you will have won.

As previously suggested, you can also use modes as a portfolio of interesting scales, and mode ninjas can drop in modes from other types of parent scale (a jazz trick that as a bass player I have never had to learn properly: drop in the occasional harmonic minor mode to a piece written in a major key. You need a grip of the underlying functional harmony to know where this will sound good. )

There is a big difference between 'modes' as a concept for relating scales to a key centre, and 'modal composition,' which is a whole other thing.

Modal composition involves using a mode as the tonal centre of a piece, rather than the parent major or minor key.

Well-known modal compositions include 'So What' by Miles Davis, popularised by Ronnie Jordan; and the verse of 'Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll' by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Both are in Dorian mode. In an improvisational context, or when comping, modal structures require that you avoid playing or implying a common cadence in the parent key. Otherwise people will expect the piece to resolve bank to the parent key, and the modal tonality will be destroyed. So if you are noodling over Dmin with a natural 6th, and want the piece to stay sounding D dorian, then don't play anything that sounds like G7.

Fair enough ?

It takes you a while to get your head around this. It is not Theory 101 stuff.

As always, I heartily recommend the short but insightful The Jazz Language by Dan Haerle. Buying it isn't enough, though. You have to read it a few times as well :-)
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby SecretSam » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:10 am

... an afterthought: if you have great ears, then if it sounds right, it is right.

However, for most mortals, this involves thinking about notes one at a time. A good knowledge of scales (including their modes) and chord-scale relationships enables you to call up an entire sound palette without having to think too hard about it on the fly. A compositional pre-set, if you like.

This is of moderate interest in rock music, where the harmony is pretty straight. When the jazz boys start playing with altered chords, then you need this knowledge. Pretty much every serious jazz muso since the forties has a tertiary music education. The great exception is Charlie Parker, but he spent years in the woodshed practicing for hours a day, and was also surrounded by players for whom the language of chords and scales was as natural as breathing.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby CS70 » Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:13 pm

feline1 wrote:I'd have to cast my vote too as one of these people who just doesn't see what all the fuss is about modes.
If you're stuck on an instrument with 12 equal-tempered semitones per octave, then you can play whatever scales/modes you want...which basically reduces to saying you can play any notes you want.
I mean, so what?

I'm sure you know already, but the whole mode thing is not about which notes you play, but which notes you play *over the same existing backdrop*.

I relate to modes on the guitar. Just playing the various mode scales by themselves will make little, if any, difference. Exactly "so what". It's the same notes, so our brain will quickly go back to hear what it's used to, no matter where we start. We may hear a minor scale because we've learned - and can keep in mind - how its relative major would sound. But the other modes are something we don't hear too often, and so for most guitarists who are starting with modes it's impossible to keep imagining a "C" when you're playing the C modes. What you'll end up hearing is maybe the minor or major scale of C, and a bunch of same-old-notes sequences in between.

But things become exceedingly easy if you actually *play* against a C, and you don't have to imagine anything. The easiest way is to record and loop a rhythmical pattern over a single low string (say a C on the V string), basically a drone; and then starting to play over it the modes of C while listening to it.

It's a incredible eye opener (or ears?). It was for me at least.

It's then that you realize how the dissonance between say C and D or C and E (taking the root and the first note of the II and III mode) and so on gives each mode it's own specific flavor. Without that C to play against, it's just the same notes. :)

In time, you learn to recognize and seek these flavors just like you do with major and minor. No theory is really needed (probably the wrong forum..), just a looper (or a very patient friend with another guitar :D ) and time to train your ears and remember.

What makes this more than "so what" is that - once you physically master one single scale - you have 7 other flavors at your disposal without any additional effort! It's a bargain!
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Ajrdileva » Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:00 pm

Do you know Tessitura Pro?
It is a great resource tool to study, understand and practice any structure (scale or chord) in any mode and see how they related to each other.

Includes hundred of scales and modes, patterns building , upper structures and approach notes.

Image

There are plenty of tutorials and demo videos here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLt-Oh3MSFwB_hPRvhikbezMQol9u6ukn_
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby damoore » Thu Oct 27, 2016 2:46 pm

My understanding is that the modes as we know them are not the modes as known to the Greeks. The concept of them all being embedded in a scale appears to be relatively modern (circa 8th century). (Caution: I am not an expert on this, nor do I play one one TV)

If you want to boggle your brain, check out the modes on the minor scales too. There is a nice table at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_(music)

If you want a different view of the world, check out Maqams. Also note that equal temperament is mostly a western thing. In the arabic world, I have read that the exact pitches used for a given Maqam vary with region. Also, the pitches are different when ascending versus descending. However I have not had the opportunity to study this first hand.
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