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Tune Add: a truly modal song

GUEST,leeneia 13 Feb 09 - 12:13 PM
dick greenhaus 13 Feb 09 - 12:19 PM
Jack Campin 13 Feb 09 - 01:02 PM
Don Firth 13 Feb 09 - 01:10 PM
dick greenhaus 13 Feb 09 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM
Don Firth 13 Feb 09 - 07:02 PM
Jack Campin 13 Feb 09 - 08:17 PM
Janie 13 Feb 09 - 08:50 PM
Jack Campin 13 Feb 09 - 09:01 PM
pavane 14 Feb 09 - 03:04 AM
Jim McLean 14 Feb 09 - 05:33 AM
pavane 14 Feb 09 - 05:55 AM
greg stephens 14 Feb 09 - 06:23 AM
pavane 14 Feb 09 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Feb 09 - 11:06 AM
Jack Campin 14 Feb 09 - 01:40 PM
Don Firth 14 Feb 09 - 02:37 PM
Jack Campin 14 Feb 09 - 04:00 PM
Don Firth 14 Feb 09 - 04:22 PM
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Subject: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 12:13 PM

Last Sunday I went to a nearby Lutheran church, to service including a Bach cantata. We sang a version of 'That Easter Day with Joy was Bright,' but it was set to a tune I had never heard before.

The name of the tune is 'Erschienen is der herrlich Tag,' composed by Nikolaus Herman, 1480-1561. It is that rare thing, a genuinely modal tune. It's in the Dorian mode. It's in the key of C, but it starts on D, it ends on D, and a D is the highest note. And that high D note is a long one, a half-note, and not a mere twitter.

(I'm interested in early music and have seen a lot of it. Outside of chant, perhaps, truly modal tunes like this are rare.)

I have found a site that has the tune on it, if you would like to try it out.

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Erschienen-ist-der-herrlich-Tag.htm

The song is in the Lutheran Book of Worship, number 154. It has harmony, but I don't know if it's original or newfangled.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 12:19 PM

For the necessary touch of pedantry, all songs--at least those using a western scale--are modal, The most common mode, of course, is Lydian (read major).


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 01:02 PM

That one actually *isn't* modal in the original sense of the word - the mode system was developed for categorizing chant melodies, and that tune doesn't have a reciting tone (modal dominant).

"The Burning of Auchindoun" (in my modes tutorial) is closer to the original chant model, as the tune hovers around on the fifth for a lot of the time.

Major = Ionian. Lydian has the fourth sharpened.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 01:10 PM

Uh—Ionian, actually. Relative to what we now call a major scale [C D E F G A B C], the Lydian mode has a raised fourth degree. [C D E F# G A B C]. Frank Zappa notwithstanding.

The second most common mode is the Aeolian, which we call the "natural minor."

Modes are not that mysterious and difficult. They are just the usual scales with the order of steps and half-steps modified a bit. For example, take the natural minor (Aeolian mode) [A B C D E F G A], raise the sixth degree of the scale a half-step, [A B C D E F# G A], and you have the Dorian mode. Take the major scale (Ionian mode), [C D E F G A B C], lower the seventh degree a half step, [C D E F G A Bb C], and you have the Mixolydian mode.

Apart from giving the melody line a little spice, what really makes a difference in the sound is if you make sure that the guitar (or whatever) chords are made up only of notes from the mode itself.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 05:02 PM

Oops. Of course it's Aeolian. Wasn't thinking.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM

For anybody who wants to get out an instrument and actually play the tune, you have to go down to the bottom of the page I linked to see the notation.

There are a number of definitions of 'modal.' I go with the one I learned at an early-music workshop. In a mode, one takes a different note of the scale and treats it the way we usually treat the tonic - the tune starts and stops on it, and it may be important in some way elsewhere. In this song, the second note of the scale is the highest note in the song.

A tune which treats the second note of the scale as the tonic is Dorian. That's what this tune is doing.

Another Dorian tune I know is 'Savior of the Nations, Come,' which was published in 1524. I've heard rumors that this is an old chant tune.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 07:02 PM

Ye-e-e-e-ah, that's one way of looking at it. It works.

One thing that an awful lot of people don't seem to understand about modes is that you're not stuck with only the white keys on the piano. As long as you have the right relative sequence of steps and half-steps for the mode in question, you can move it anywhere you want.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 08:17 PM

Here are two versions from that site in ABC:

X:1
T:Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag
S:a 17th century hymnal
M:6/4
L:1/4
Q:3/4=40
K:D Dorian
   D D D|A2 B (c>B)A|G2 \
A B2   c|d2 A (cA) B|A2
A c2   A|G2 D (F>E)D|C2 \
C F2   G|A2 G F2 c|A2
G (F G) E|D6       |]

X:2
T:Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag
S:Gotha hymnal 1715
M:3/2
L:1/2
Q:3/2=40
K:D Dorian
D D D| A2 B|c2 A| G3|\
A B ^c| d2 A|c B2|HA2
A|c2    A| G2 E|F2 D|HC2 \
C|F2    G| A2 G|F c2|HA2
G|F E2 |HD2 |]


It's strikingly like the verse of this Scottish drinking song:

X:3
T:Andro wi his Cutty Gun
S:MacColl, Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland
M:3/4
L:1/4
Q:3/4=72
K:D Dorian
A3 |(D2 E)|(F<G) E|C3 |\
A3 | D2 E | F<E- E|D2
A|A2 D| D2 E | F E2 |D2 \
A|A2 D| D2 E | F E2 |D2||
G|A2 d| d2 e | c2   B|A2 \
G|A2 d| d2 e | c B2 |A2
G|A d2| d2 e | c2   B|A2 \
D|D2 A| G2 E |(F E2)|D2|]


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Janie
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 08:50 PM

I can't open the link. I get a 404 error.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 09:01 PM

The link behind the text was wrong (so I copy-pasted the text into my browser's URL bar).

This will work:

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Erschienen-ist-der-herrlich-Tag.htm


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: pavane
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 03:04 AM

From above
"make sure that the guitar (or whatever) chords are made up only of notes from the mode itself."

The main thing to remember is NOT to use any chord with a 7 in its name!


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Jim McLean
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 05:33 AM

Norman Cadzden once said 'Why call it Ionian Heptatonic when we mean Major?


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: pavane
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 05:55 AM

I gather it is all to do with the dominant. If the dominant is V, it is the major - but it doesn't have to be.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: greg stephens
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 06:23 AM

Pavane: a G7 chord is made up exclusively from "notes from the mode itself", if you are playing in C. What's wrong with that


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: pavane
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 08:04 AM

It is a discord which is resolved by moving to the tonic, except that the major chord (C in your example) isn't the tonic in any other mode.

In your example, the "tonic" of a mode on C isn't a C chord, it is Dm
in the Doran, Am in Aeolian etc.

I don't say NEVER, but it is safest not to (As I understand)


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 11:06 AM

Thanks for the ABC, Jack. It's nice of you to post it.

I tried making up an accompaniment to the tune, but nothing pleased me, so I let it go.

'One thing that an awful lot of people don't seem to understand about modes is that you're not stuck with only the white keys on the piano.'

True, Don. The modes apply to any key there is. It's just that it's easier to talk about the white keys.

Does anybody know if ordinary, working musicians (such as monks using those small keyboards I see in fine art) used the modes in everyday life? Or were the modes just theory known to a few?


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 01:40 PM

The modal theory for chant was used all the time, you used it to know which chant melodies to put together (for the most part a service didn't change mode very much). This is practiced to an even greater extent in the Syrian church, where specific modes go with each period of the ecclesiastical year. In this sort of context everybody who sings knows the mode they're in for the week.

It's less important with polyphonic music, but even quite complex Renaissance polyphony was usually based around a tenor with a definite mode which might be meant to go along with monophonic chants in the same mode.

You might want to look at that Bach chorale site to see if his arrangements give you any ideas for accompaniments. They were pretty complicated.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 02:37 PM

Does anybody know if ordinary, working musicians (such as monks using those small keyboards I see in fine art) used the modes in everyday life? Or were the modes just theory known to a few?"

Yes. Just a few blocks from where I live is St. Mark's Cathedral (Episcopal) that has one terrific music program set up by recently retired Music Director Peter Hallock, an English countertenor who's been living in Seattle for several decades. Among other things, every Sunday evening, they hold a compline service that is attended by hundreds of people and is broadcast.   CLICKY. Chants, many—probably most—of which are modal. Also, St. Mark's boasts a monstrous Flentrop organ complete with 3,944 pipes, ranging in size from 32 feet to less than one inch. Lots of music during services, much of which is modal, and the cathedral is also used for organ concerts. Big enough to hanger a dirigible in, the space is most impressive, complete with Old World reverb!

On a somewhat smaller scale, in the mid-1950s, I discovered what modes were all about from an article in The Guitar Review, a high quality magazine that used to be published by the New York Classic Guitar Society and containing excellent articles on music theory, among other guitar-related subjects. The article said something about, beyond polyphony, the modes were never harmonized—chordal forms. I figured, "Why not?" and proceeded to work out triads to the modal scales in the same way that chords are derived from major (Ionian) and minor (Aeolian) scales. I started using them to accompany songs that I discovered were modal and it worked very nicely, fitting the songs beautifully.

Later, when I met Rolf Cahn, I learned that he had done the same thing. I don't know if Joan Baez worked it out that way, but on her early recordings at least, she uses appropriate chords for modal songs. Not everybody does.

I've found that, other than major and minor, I encounter Dorian and Mixolydian more often in folk music that any of the other modes. The Phrygian mode occurs fairly often in flamenco music.

You can listen to each of the modes HERE.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 04:00 PM

Don, simply *singing* modal tunes does not mean you have the modal theory in your head - that was what leeneia was asking. Most of the people in that Seattle congregation probably don't - you don't need any theory to sing along with that organ pulling you along with like a locomotive. Most of the monks in a mediaeval monastery would have done, as the students in a Syriac seminary do in the present day.

With an ABC player (like the converter at folkinfo.org), the modes tutorial on my site gives you a LOT more information than the one Don referenced.

The various hexatonic modes are way more common in Western European folk music than major, minor, dorian or mixolydian. It's more of a challenge to harmonize those, because often you will want to leave out the ambiguous note. Power chords help.

Flamenco players often call one of their scales phrygian but it isn't really - it's the same as the Arabic hijaz scale, D Eb F# G A Bb c d.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: a truly modal song
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 04:22 PM

Jack, re: flamenco, I was referring to E F G A B C D E, used in such forms as the Soleares and the Malagueñas. This is not just my own idea, it was explained to me by Antonio Zori, from whom I took flamenco lessons in 1962. And I have a couple of books on the subject. One anomaly is the G# in the E major chord that acts as the tonic in the Soleares. Not a pure Phrygian scale as far as chords are concerned, but the falsettas use the pure Phrygian.

By the way, I have attended workshops with the Medieval Men's Choir, many of whom are also members of the St. Mark's choir. I think they know what they're doing, whether the general congregation does or not. Peter Hallock and his successor certainly do.

Don Firth


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