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Modes: don't you just love 'em?

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

Postby CS70 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:09 pm

petev3.1 wrote:From a practical perspective it seems to me that if one can play scales starting from anywhere then one only needs to know where to start. Learning the modes seems a great way of learning to play scales starting from anywhere, but I just can't seem to get a handle on why the two tasks are different.

Far from a theorist here, but from what I get the action itself (i.e. the "starting from a different note of the major scale") is the same. The only difference is that you talk about modes only in relation to a tonic note - the simplest example of which is a bass drone (but can be anything that constantly reinforces the tonic base of the piece, like a pad for example or just a progression of chords always containing the tonic note).

So "mode" does not reference just the action, but the action plus the context... hence, the "start from anywhere" is only half the story; the other half is to have the fixed tonic reference going on while you're starting from anywhere.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:51 pm

The more replies I read on this thread the more I feel like Father Dougal McGuire..........
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Feb 16, 2018 6:34 pm

Yeah, I can't even spell phyrr... pyhrr... mixalo..
any of them, let alone play them.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby petev3.1 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:02 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:I guess the key point is that the chord is only the dominant seventh if it stands in a particular relationship to the tonic and thus to the tonal centre of the piece. As GilesAnt points out, a piece that is in one of the natural minor modes, or the Mixolydian mode, doesn't have a conventional dominant seventh chord. If the piece is in, say, G Mixolydian, when you play something over the G you are not soloing over a dominant seventh chord, you're soloing over a tonic chord that has a flat instead of a raised seventh.

I get what you're saying, and also CS70. I see a big difference between using the modes for soloing over a major/minor-scale background and writing in a modal style. My comments were mostly about soloing and I'm assuming the piece is in a major/minor scale . Modal composition is a different matter and although I'm only just getting to grips with this it doesn't confuse me like the soloing thing.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby GilesAnt » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:08 pm

I think Sam is spot on with his reply to Pete, but I wonder if Pete was meaning something slightly different.

You said (Pete) that you had been improvising mixolydian patterns over dominant 7th for years before you knew anything about modes. Well, Pete, feel free to return to blissful ignorance because you weren't - you were indeed using the notes of the scale.
in C major the dom 7th is G B D F - all notes from that major scale.

Coincidentally the notes of the C major scale are also the notes of the Mixolydian based on G, but then they are also the notes of the Dorian based on D, the Phrygian based on E and so on. So no real mystery here. As Sam says, they are NOT the notes of the mixolydian based on C.

Are you thinking of 7th chords more generally, e.g. if playing in C major, a C7 chord would include a Bflat - implying the mixolydian based on C.

If I understand CS70 correctly (and I'm not sure if I do) modal improvisation works well over non-functional harmony, slow moving tonics, drones etc. The modes with their different characteristics can really come to the fore since they are primarily melodic. But once you are using functional harmony, then almost by definition you are using major/minor keys - not modes.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby petev3.1 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:40 pm

Fascinating stuff. I've been studying and now have a slightly better handle on this topic. It seems to me that there is more than one way to think about the modes and more than one way to utilise them. Also it seems to make all the difference whether we're noodling over a drone or harmonic sequence or whether we're writing the piece in some mode. In the former case very often we're just playing the diatonic scale notes selectively, while in the latter case we're wandering off into new tonalities and note relationships.

But the modes certainly seem to the secret of having fun with solos and getting away from the the pentatonic. I caught a video the other day explaining the use of the lydian mode in the verse of the Police's 'Every Little Thing She does is Magic' (or whatever the title is) and found it useful.

My confusion is dissipating slowly. With habitual hubris I'm starting to write some solo pieces systematically exploring the modes since I can't find any.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby joeyondakeys » Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:41 pm

This thread is pretty rad; very informative. :thumbup:

I'm curious.

Would anyone be able to categorize styles of music (cinematic or otherwise) that can be generally associated with each mode - or several modes? Once upon a time, I saw a video that did just that. However this was years ago, and I skimmed through it. Highly doubt I'd be able to find it again.

I'd love to experiment with more modes, having a general sense of what situations each one excels in.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby GilesAnt » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:52 pm

It s difficult to link the various modes to particular styles as far as I can see (beyond the fact that much early church music was modal). Neither am I sure if 'cinematic' can be considered a style as such - there are lots of films with as wide a range of soundtracks as music in general. Maybe I misunderstand you though.

This thread has also started to distinguish between using modes as a melodic device and using modes as the basis of a composition. The second of these is increasingly rare since it would depend on modal harmony as well as modal melody.

The Dorian is associated strongly with traditional folk music - not modern pop-folk but 19th and 18th century stuff if not older. A lot of old English folk music uses the Dorian. The other modes pop up here and there, but not sure if any particular style or genre is based strongly on a mode.

Maybe others can suggest associations.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby SoundsGood » Sat Jun 30, 2018 3:26 am

joeyondakeys wrote:This thread is pretty rad; very informative. :thumbup:

I'm curious.

Would anyone be able to categorize styles of music (cinematic or otherwise) that can be generally associated with each mode - or several modes? Once upon a time, I saw a video that did just that. However this was years ago, and I skimmed through it. Highly doubt I'd be able to find it again.

I'd love to experiment with more modes, having a general sense of what situations each one excels in.

This is a really good one.
https://www.classicfm.com/discover-musi ... cal-modes/
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Synthman4 » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:00 pm

I don't think there is any easy way of explaining what modes are. Correct me if I'm wrong because I'll try to explain myself what modes are in the easiest possible way..
"A mode is a scale where there is always the same rule/formula of the different number of note movements from the previous note of that scale to the next note of that scale for that particular mode".
"The rule/formula of the first Mode called the Ionian Mode is worked out from the first note of the C scale.
Ionian Mode =
The first note C to the second note D is two semi tones/ tone so the formula for the first movement of notes in the Ionian Mode is two semitones or a tone.
The next rule /formula of the number of note changes between the second note and the third note in the Ionian Mode is calculated from the second note of the C major scale, note D to E which is another two semitones.
The next rule of note movements to the next note of the Ionian Mode is calculated from the number of notes from E of the C Major scale to F
which is one semi tone in this part of the Ionian mode.
To find the next rule of the mode you work out the number of notes from F to G which is two semi tones.
Keep doing that until you've worked out the formula for the Ionian Mode until you've got back to the note C again and you have the general rule of the Ionian scale.

The rule of the next Mode is worked out by starting that process on D, then the next Mode starting on E then the next mode is calculated from F of the C Major scale. Keep doing this till you have found the formula of all the different Modes.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:18 pm

Synthman4 wrote:"The rule/formula of the first Mode called the Ionian Mode is worked out from the first note of the C scale.

The tonic can be C but it doesn't have to be.

Synthman4 wrote:The rule of the next Mode is worked out by starting that process on D, then the next Mode starting on E then the next mode is calculated from F of the C Major scale. Keep doing this till you have found the formula of all the different Modes.

I think you may have misinterpreted the examples on Wikipedia. These show different modes as starting on different notes but do so only as illustrative samples. A scale in any mode can start on any note.

A scale in Ionic mode is constructed by progressing up from the root note (or tonic) according to the intervals in the following sequence:

Tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone.

Thus for the key of C this is C,D,E,F,G,A,B,(C) but in G it would be G,A,B,C,D,E,F#,(G). Although the starting notes are different and use different 'flavours' of F, they are both Ionic mode scales and both follow the sequence of intervals above.

The sequence associated with a mode is used to determine the scale in that mode but a mode also infers a certain amount of consideration when it comes to melody and harmony that makes use of it. Some of this theory is all but academic these days but establishes an important, if subtle, distinction between a mode and a scale.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby GilesAnt » Wed Jun 10, 2020 5:54 pm

I'm not sure there is a difference between a mode and a scale Eddy. A mode is a scale, i.e. a means of subdividing the notes of an octave. It just so happens that our modern major scale is identical to the Ionian Mode.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:24 pm

GilesAnt wrote:I'm not sure there is a difference between a mode and a scale Eddy. A mode is a scale, i.e. a means of subdividing the notes of an octave. It just so happens that our modern major scale is identical to the Ionian Mode.

I wouldn't disagree in a practical sense these days, hence my comment about it being largely academic, but nearly 40 years ago when I was receiving 'old school' (even by the standards of the day) training in theory it was a distinction that was impressed upon me on more than one occasion.

That said, my teacher was born in 1911 and for some time amongst other things was a lecturer at the Royal Academy. That's not an appeal to authority but he was a hardcore theorist as well as a pianist so I always took his word for it ;-)

The distinction he made referenced the fact that there were subtle differences in the application of melody and harmony depending on which mode you were using, whereas a scale is no more than a blunt tool to divide an octave into intervals, but in all honesty I couldn't cite any of them after all these years.

According to Wikipedia, Liane Curtis (in the book Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music - ISBN 0-520-21081-6) wrote:

Liane Curtis wrote:"Modes should not be equated with scales: principles of melodic organization, placement of cadences, and emotional affect are essential parts of modal content"

... but I've not been able to find any further concrete information on that based on a cursory search or two, and indeed the authors' names seem not to align, so I may just be being pedantic insofar as I do believe there was a distinction if you go back a few decades.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby GilesAnt » Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:47 pm

But that definition you quote applies to both scales and modes. He was probably making the point that scales (i.e. major and minor scales according to his definition) behave differently to all the other modes in terms of the way they support functional harmony (i.e. the V7-I cadence). None of the other modes support a true V7-I cadence.

Now this is a crucial distinction, but it doesn't really mean that modes aren't scales. How is a scale a means of dividing an octave up, but not a mode?
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:52 pm

GilesAnt wrote:But that definition you quote applies to both scales and modes. He was probably making the point that scales (i.e. major and minor scales according to his definition) behave differently to all the other modes in terms of the way they support functional harmony (i.e. the V7-I cadence). None of the other modes support a true V7-I cadence.

Now this is a crucial distinction, but it doesn't really mean that modes aren't scales. How is a scale a means of dividing an octave up, but not a mode?

Both are means of dividing an octave up; all I'm citing is a memory of a distinction between the terms 'scale' and 'mode'. My suspicion is that they are two words for the same thing, the subtle difference being that mode infers (or at least, used to) the consideration of such a division when exercising the rules of melody and harmony wheras scale does not.

I think we're violently agreeing with each other, that it's just a terminology thing and the difference is of no consequence these days although I retain an echo of the imprint I got back then!
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