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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Lucius What does 'modal' really mean? (66* d) RE: What does 'modal' really mean? 03 Jul 06

Haven't been around in ages, but since my name and password are still good from 1999, I'll see what I can do to muddy the waters. I have heard the word MODAL across several genres. Im my music theory classes, it refers to the music of Greece and of the gothic Catholic church. This is what you get when you look up MODAL in the theory texts, but unless you're a eunuch working for the Pope, it probably won't help you much.

As a jazz musician, I used to hear this tossed about regarding specific scales that seemed to fit within the compositional of the post be-bop "cool" period. The quartal harmonies in a tune like Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage lent themselves to improvisations within the dorian mode, and were sometimes refereed to as modal if not directly as dorian.

Later, as a contra/celtic guitarist, I would hear someone occasionally refer to a tune as being MODAL. I never got a good etymology on usage, but I noticed that these tunes generally avoided the dominant chord, substituting a major dropped 7th chord. This would also be the dominant of the relative major, but the tunes were often ambiguous about whether they were major or minor keys. The only example that I can think of is the Butterfly, a slip jig. If you start in Amin, it drops down to a Gmaj--suppose that you could argue that it is out of an AEolean or Dorian mode, but that requires for more thinking than I care to do--when it comes to traditional music.

'coourse it could mean "with Ice Cream" as well. Suppose it depends on the context.

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