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Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer

Related threads:
Tech Talk: Modes and Scales Again (117)
Musical Modes...Anyone Understand? (75)
Transposing Chords and Keys (37)
More About Modes (70)
modes tutorial update (17)
The Naming of Modes (38)
Is the tempered scale overrated? (56)
Modal Music - How to tell? (98)
Modes vs Scales (47)
a mnemonic for the modes (106)
Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.? (28)
Relative Minor Key signatures? (45)
15 Keys, 3 are duplicates. When Used??? (19)
Who Named the Modes? (49)
What is a key, anyway? (31)
Why Keys? (53)
Modes? (56)
singing in key of G (17)


Peter T. 28 Mar 00 - 02:29 PM
Alice 28 Mar 00 - 02:41 PM
MMario 28 Mar 00 - 02:50 PM
Whistle Stop 28 Mar 00 - 02:57 PM
Amos 28 Mar 00 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 28 Mar 00 - 03:38 PM
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Subject: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 02:29 PM

With some trepidation, I have put this simple synthesis together for my own purposes -- if I can explain something to myself, I can usually remember it for at least a week - and thought it might be useful to others, ranging from people interested in fiddle music to listeners to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (the famous opening piece, "So What?", is in Dorian mode). I thought it might also be an example (maybe bad!!) of other educational projects Mudcatters might generate here. As I say at the end, I happily invite corrections and complaints -- I am just getting started on this huge topic, and could have it all screwed up! It is based on the two earlier big threads on this topic, as well as the New Grove Dictionary, 5 guitar books, e-mails from kind Mudcatters, and a couple of days of head-scratching and plonking around.

MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A PRIMER

(with thanks to Sorcha, M. Ted, OckiemockBird, Praise, Arkie, alison, soddy, Art Thieme, Frank Hamilton, Bruce O., and others)

This primer is designed to explain as clearly as possible the concept and role of modes in music. It assumes a very basic knowledge of the current familiar major and minor scales that are what most people work with on the piano and the guitar. The examples are based on being able to work with or vaguely envisage a piano keyboard. Art Thieme, in the recent "Tech Talk:Modes and Scales Again" thread, uses an Appalachian dulcimer (which I don't have, shame on me).

All this is really preliminary to talking about what all this means for applications to understanding folk music and folk songs, and not for theory for its own sake. So it is in two parts: 1) an introduction to modes; and 2) a much shorter section of applications to folk music, to which I am hoping the experts on this site will continue to append material and examples.

1. Modes: An Introduction

Modes are patterns that identify different scales, or clusters of melodies from which patterns can be inferred. The history and language of modes is very complicated because they come out of medieval music, church music, and are now being applied to a whole range of other less formalized music; as well as (less usefully) to non Western music, or any music that is different than the mainline system. So, as M. Ted points out, they really have three distinct and different applications:

1) Describing early church music;
2) A more recent use to analyze and describe the different types of scales that occur in folk music, and certain oriental musics;
3) The contemporary use of modal scales in performance of jazz and pop music, and in some modern classical music.

The bizarre language of modes -- Dorian, Lydian, Locrian, Mixolydian, etc., that puts people off, derives (in legend) from an early Greek attempt to identify different patterns in music -- the patterns were supposedly named after Greek islands that were part of the Greek Confederacy -- and adapted into Byzantine musical practice, Gregorian chant, etc. through the medieval period. These names were further adapted (and applied) to quite different configurations of notes later on, due to historical misunderstandings. In the 19th century, when people started looking at folk music that did not conform to what was now the mainline pattern, they used modes as a way of classifying them (controversially).

The most important single thing to keep in mind in what follows is that I am using the term mode very roughly here to signify a pattern of intervals that goes from the first note of a scale (say C) to the next C, one octave higher. This is for convenience sake.

The two modes that we are most familiar with -- and that have crowded out the others from our ears -- are the Major and Minor mode. These were originally the Ionian and the Aeolian modes (the minor is actually derived from a more complicated mix, but generally this is true). If you sit down at a piano, and start at middle C and play all the white keys till you get to the next highest C, you have played a diatonic C scale in the Major mode, which is like the Ionian, and that is a shorthand people give it today, referring to it as Ionian as well. To remind those for whom music class was a long time ago (like me!): "Diatonic" roughly means playing the right notes for a certain scale: "chromatic" means playing every note there is: on a piano that would mean adding in all the black keys as well, which would then take it out of the C scale. The C-scale on the white notes has the following structure : C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C or, looking at the intervals between each note (W=Whole step; h=Half Step): W-W-H-W-W-W-H. You may recall that in this scale, between E and F and between B and C there are the half steps (which is also related to why there are no black keys between them on the piano). The related minor scale (A minor), also stays on the white keys, but because it starts on A-B-C-D E-F-G-A, its structure looks like: W-H-W-W-H-W-W. If you do the C scale for two octaves, it goes: W-W-H-W-W-W-H-W-W-H-W-W-W-H. This is the C structure, but if this time you start on the 6th note, A and then go forward, the pattern of W's and H's change. This different pattern of whole and half steps identifies this as the Aeolian or Minor mode; but it is obviously related to the C scale in the related Major mode.

O.K. Now one way of thinking about more new modes (not the only one, but it seems to me to be convenient), is to go back to the C scale for a moment. This time, instead of going up from C to shining C on the white notes, move up one note to D and go to D on the white notes. This -- like the A-minor scale -- gives you a different pattern of whole and half steps. We move up one, so: W-H-W-W-W-H-W. This is now a Dorian pattern.

There are a couple of important things here. The first is that in the history of modes, the most important concern was that the first note of the scale (or, to be historically more accurate, the last note, which is the same) sets up a tonal centre of its own. That is, starting on D and going to D creates its own musical universe. For a moment, forget you have ever heard of a C scale, C major, or anything like it. You are just going from D to D on the white keys. D- Dorian.

Now, suppose that you return to the Major scale. That is, you are now going to go from D to D in the same Major mode of the C scale you started with. To make D to D work in the same pattern that made C work, and still remaining in that Major mode, you have to add two sharps (#). That is: D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D. This then gives you the original W-W-H-W-W-W-H Major pattern we started with in C (adjusting the step from E-F and B-C, as well, of course, as the step from F-G and C-D). This gives you a D scale -- and the key of D -- in D Major.

The difference between D-major and D-Dorian is that in order to get D-Dorian (remember that on the piano it would be all white keys starting on D), you have to flatten those two sharps that you have in the Major to get a Dorian pattern. All Dorians, whatever note they start on, can be characterised by those two flats -- on the 3rd and the 7th -- applied to the related major scale.

Let us try this with the C-scale we started out with. Remember, this is all clean of sharps or flats, C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. To get C-Dorian now, you flat the 3rd and the 7th. C-D-Eb-F-G-A Bb-C. If you know some music theory, you will know that a key in Major mode that has two flats is B. So if you start with B-Ionian, the closely related Dorian is C.

So this sets up the easy rule to memorize for starting in modes. Take a scale, like C, move up one note, preparing for a new octave , change the pattern, and you get a D Dorian. This is true for any scale in Major mode: A-Dorian is thus related to G major; G-Dorian to F major, and so on. Using a C-scale, and checking out the other modes, we would then have the following list, moving up a note each time, changing the octave span, and changing the pattern differently each time:

C-Ionian (our major scale)
D-Dorian
E-Phrygian
F-Lydian
G-Mixolydian
A-Aeolian (our minor scale)
B-Locrian.

Each of the modes can be thought of this way for useful purposes. So, as related to a Major (Ionian) scale (sometimes called "natural modes"):

Ionian goes: W-W-H-W-W-W-H (all natural)
Dorian goes: W-H-W-W-W-H-W (b3, b7)
Phrygian goes: H-W-W-W-H-W-W (b2, b3, b6, b7)
Lydian goes: W-W-W-H-W-W-H (#4)
Mixolydian goes: W-W-H-W-W-H-W (b7)
Aeolian goes: W-H-W-W-H-W-W (b3, b6, b7)
Locrian goes: H-W-W-H-W-W-W (b2, b3, b5, b6, b7)

Keeping these interval patterns correct, you can start on any note you want, anywhere. Using the Ionian scale is just for comparative convenience, just as using the C-scale with its white notes makes it clearer when things like flats and sharps get added. You can start anywhere -- though traditionally the modes were associated with those special final/tonal notes such as D (Dorian).

One last piece of pure theory before getting to work. Because of the changes in the flats and the sharps in these patterns, when the notes of these new scales are put into stacked chords, the dynamic relationships change. The standard Major scale dynamic is a I(tonic)-IV (Subdominant)-V7(Dominant)-I chord structure, with the Dominant (with the 7th to give it extra pull) seeking to resolve to the I (tonic). In these new modes, however, for example, the Mixolydian with its flatted 7th; the VII (subtonic) chord which is usually weak in a Major scale, becomes quite strong, and can act as an alternative dominant. That is part of what gives these new modes their characteristic "flavour".

Frank Hamilton and others put the stress on listening. For example, if you have a tune that seems to be strongly in a standard G scale -- maybe it starts on a G and ends on a G -- but has no F#, then a trained ear would opt for a Mixolydian mode. More on this in a second.

2. Putting Modes to Work

To continue on this more practical line, and still speaking of chords, soddy notes as follows:

The most frequently used modes in fiddle music are the Aeolian, the Dorian, and the Mixolydian.... In the Dorian mode, the I chord is minor (unlike the standard D chord in the D major scale), the IV chord is major, and the V7 chord is minor, although more often the VII chord is used, which is major. In the Mixolydian mode, the I chord is major, the IV chord is Major, and the V chord is minor. Usually (again) the VII chord is substituted for a V chord. "Old Joe Clark" is a Mixolydian tune.

Frank Hamilton speaks about this in a related way, bringing in the idea of chords whose use imply the mode they are creating. That is, if you play the important chords in these modes, the rest of the mode is implied. You can then use the scale of that mode to improvise with. He says (I have moved his remarks around and added to them):

" An A minor chord and a G major chord (or E minor) define an A-Aeolian mode (or one might say, we hear that we are now in a minor key). A C minor chord and an F major chord define a C-Dorian mode. A G-major chord and an F-major chord define a G-Mixolydian mode. A C-major and a D-major chord define a C-Lydian mode. E-major or E-minor chord and an F-major chord define an E-Phrygian mode. The Locrian mode is not really found in the folk music tradition."

Also, as Okiemockbird points out, none of this is hard and fast: he speaks of a compositon of his that wanders between C-major (no sharps), and G-major (one sharp). He thinks the work is vaguely Mixolydian. Why? To repeat what was said earlier, because although the piece is structured around a G scale (G is the note upon which the piece ends, so it is for the moment assumed to be the tonal centre) the piece has no sharps. What this means is that he is thinking of the piece as being in G, which would usually mean G major, but now with the usual one sharp (F#) flattened out of existence, so it follows the Mixolydian pattern (a flattened 7th).

Sorcha says a similar thing about "Old Joe Clark" :

"It is usually in A, but it is an A without the last G#; if you play the G# is will sound O.K., but without it there is a more "minory" or Appalachian feel to the tune. A lot of Scottish tunes are also in A without the G#, as you can get a more bag-pipey feel to the sound."

Okiemockbird gives another example of what to do, and what to avoid: just to get a better feel for this. In E-Dorian -- E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D-E - he would use E-minor, B minor, G-major, A-major, D-Major, and other chords containing these notes, but stay away from A-minor, which would be normal in an E-minor piece.

On a related matter, thinking about improvising, suppose you are playing music in a major key -- say C -- and the music is sitting on a dominant 7th (V7), which would be a G7 chord. You can use that G7 as the tonal centre around which you can play the G-Mixolydian scale over that chord until the day happens that you want to go back to C again. (Sailors!) Similarly, with a IIminor 7th (like Dminor 7 in a song in C), you can play a D-Dorian scale (and others -- one book says that E -Phrygian scales work well over Dminor 7ths). This is part of what Miles Davis and Bill Evans are doing in jazz albums like Kind of Blue -- they slow the music down to the point where the standard "dominant chord tension" is replaced by a more meditative, repetitive music based on modal scales being played over chords that have temporarily lost their Major home -- this is why these songs sound as if they could go on forever -- they are not being pulled hard towards a standard tonic. This is why composers at the turn of the 20th century looking for sounds outside of the main system turned to folk songs and non-standard modes.

A few extra notes from the earlier threads:
It was noted by several people that the only new modes over and above Major and Minor that one usually runs across are the Dorian and the Mixolydian.

A small practical trick noted by Okiemockbird is that if you raise the 6th note in a standard Aeolion minor scale, you get a Dorian mode. So, in Aminor, if you sharp the 6th, you get: A B-C-D-E-F#-A, which is A-Dorian. When you are working in chords in A minor, this means that two of the important chords -- the II and the IV -- are changed in useful ways. The II, which was a diminished chord, becomes a minor; and the IV becomes a major triad (adding a 7th to that makes the chord into an alternative dominant).

Lastly it is worth repeating that modes are not necessarily clean and neat: the tone of any song or songs may not be immediately fittable into one of the "official" modes. Bruce O. notes that he has over 160 modes in his data base. There is a complex history concerning the application of modes to folk music, most famously in the modal scheme (originating with Gilchrist) adapted by Sharp in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1917), and differing descendants (Bertrand Bronson is mentioned in the threads). Some theorists concentrate on clusters of tunes, not modes. Contributors to other threads also noted that the idea of "final tones" in modal schemes is complicated when you have "circular" forms where there is no strong end to the song.

The relationship of modes to other folk musics in other cultures, with their special microtones and structures, seems to be very controversial, and of diminishing usefulness the farther away you get from the West.

To conclude: the general advice is, of course, to listen and play, to familiarize oneself with modes, either comparing them as they differ from the standard Major/minor modes, or as they are in themselves. To this end, here are a number of songs suggested by Mudcatters:

Songs/Music in each mode:

Dorian: Garry Owen, Cuckoos Nest, 17 Come Sunday, Lisdoonvarna, Cold Frosty Morning

Mixolydian: John Hardy, Tom Joad, Paddy O'Rafferty, Three Sheepskins, Jolly Beggarman, Morisco, Old Joe Clark

Phrygian: White Cockade, Campbells are Coming, Bessie Bell & Mary Gray

Lydian:Beethoven's String Quartet, Opus. 132.

Locrian: Couldn't find any.

Thanks again to all. I would obviously appreciate corrections and complaints that I have got something wrong (there will be some, I am sure), and additions to the practical side, songs, etc., for everyone's benefit. A second edition would correct (or replace) this first. I have had a whole new world of music opened to me in working on getting this clear(ish) in my own mind. I appreciate the help I have got over the last week.

Yours, Peter T. P.S. A new Mudcat mode: Maxolydian.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Alice
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 02:41 PM

wow, you've been busy typing. Good job.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: MMario
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 02:50 PM

this should be saved as an "article" for the e-zine!!!!


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 02:57 PM

Wow! Peter, you have performed a valuable service. This is much better than trying to remember my music theory studies from 25 years ago! It also should help remind all of us how much the Mudcat has to offer. Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Amos
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 03:03 PM

I took the liberty of adding this to the LINKS section under Music Theory. Hope that wasokay.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 03:38 PM

I've found that using numbers for the number of semitones between notes, 1, 2, and so is much more convenient than W, and H or S and T, and a lot easier for a computer to handle. You can also extend it to include all possible modes. [See file on modes on my website for the semitone sequences for normal 7, 6, and 5 note tunes and a few others].

It's only a step from there to my mode number which directly codes the scale of the tune, not the difference of it from the scoring mode. [Some tunes have been scored in as many as 4 different modes] File COMBCOD2.TXT now gives stressed note codes of 6232 tunes in 172 different modes or scales. The scales of these and common scoring notations for them are given in file CODEMATR.TXT


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 03:42 PM

Could you put your website name/link here, Bruce? I can't open the other thread any more, so can't remember if you listed it there.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Jim Krause
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 03:42 PM

Peter, I am certainly impressed. That was quite good. I was glad to offer any help I could to your efforts. Cudos & congrats.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 04:13 PM

www.erols.com/olsonw
[see quicklinks above]


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 04:19 PM

There's another advantage to using 1 for a semitone and 2 for a tone. After you've gone through the octave add up all the 1's and 2's (and others for non-normal modes) and if they don't add up to 12 then you made a mistake somewhere.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 06:34 PM

How the devil you sifted through all that information and distilled it down to something even I can understand is a miracle. This one's a keeper. You have my undying gratitude and admiration, Peter T.

Neil


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 06:52 PM

My compliments to the chef! and thanks for a VERY nice piece of work. I now have some very nice ways of trying to explain it to other people which are bette than the ones I was using-- and I learned a lot here, too! thanks


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 06:59 PM

Peter:

Nice wordk!!! And lots of it, too!

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 07:37 PM

Thanks Peter! Now I can replace (or add to) the notebook I've filled by printing all the previous threads.

Some additional stuff I picked up...but should be verified again since I forgot where I got it...

Dorian Mode: What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?

Lydian Mode: Lemon Tree (Peter, Paul & Mary)

Mixolydian Mode: Gregorian psalm tone 7 (I think from Okiemockbird); Rattling Roaring Willie (I think from Jack Campin and can be heard at Barry Taylor's )

Locrian: Gentle Thoughts Meditative Chant (from Sorcha...if anyone wants to hear it maybe I can figure out how to do the Miditext program)

Thanks again!


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 07:45 PM

Peter I refuse to believe you did this. Admit it, it was the Heron wasn't it???

Fantastic job my friend, and after you make whatever changes you may decide upon or last minute additions, I agree, This needs to be in the Mudcat E-Zine.

EXCELLENT WORK....... and my best to Waylon.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 09:13 PM

Nice work, Peter--it seems to be pretty accurate--of course every point raises another question, which would turn it into a book--though that may be inevitable!!!!

I have a couple clarifications though-- your tend to classify the major and minor scales as modes, and I think you have to explain the difference between diatonic scales and modes--

The major and minor scales may have the same notes in them as modes, but modes are a precursor to the diatonic scales--they M/m scales can be used in ways that the modes cannot be used--

Through the use of changing harmonies, they make it possible to change the tone center of the melody to any of the other scale notes, without changing the underlying tonality of the melody--

Another way of saying this is that in the key of C major, you can change the tone center of the melody to B and you ear still "hears" it resolving back to C--

The G7 scale is called a Dominant Scale, not a Mixolydian scale--because it has this special relationship to the C scale--

Other things that major/minor scales do that modes don't, is allow for the possibility of key changes, and allow the melody to be change from major to minor, or for a melody phrase to repeat with one of the intervals raised or lowered--

Also, it would be good if you make some attempt to explain what the nature of those 160 scales that Bruce O keeps mentioning---

Anyway, well begun (Big Grin)


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 09:41 PM

Thank you Peter.

Rick


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Caitrin
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 09:54 PM

Peter...wow! As person who's never had a music theory class, this has been very helpful. I had heard of modes before, but I wasn't really sure how they functioned. This was both educational and interesting...many thanks!


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Escamillo
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 01:02 AM

Thanks a lot and congratulations, El Pedro. It happens more and more that an article posted by a Mudcatter becomes part of our library. And this is GREAT.
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 09:39 AM

Mary of Kentucky's eagle eye (from an e-mail):
there is a typo in roughly the 15th paragraph, where I say that "if you know some music theory, you will know that a key in Major mode that has two flats is B."

Should of course be Bb (Major). Thanks, Mary.

Glad this is seen as helpful. I would like to read even short primers on (1) playing the blues (pentatonics and all that); (2) on sounds and scales in non-Western folk music; (3) some more on learning to play different instruments; and a synthesis of some of the other really informative long threads here. I know there are books available on these, but I found the personal versions and tips of Mudcatters more helpful (and more fun). Thanks to Mary again for more song additions. Any others?

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: rainbow
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 10:30 AM

wow! thanks for this... also there are usually interesting comments on modes in dulcimer threads due to the nature of the instrument...

... lorraine


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 06:09 PM

I've made up a mode slide rule as a GIF and put it on my website, so you can print it out from your web browser. (Click on MODERULE.GIF). Cut the scale off the top so you can slide it along to give the keynote you want at the start of the mode, and slide it down to the mode you want. Notes tell how to get the normal 6 and 5 modes from these. I didn't put on the non-normal harmonic minor, but it's just aeolian with the 7th not flatted. www.erols.com/olsonw


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 06:44 PM

Neat. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 12:03 PM

I am refreshing this, as I just got around to reading my hard copy of it and was very impressed. Thanks, Peter.

Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 07:10 PM

As an "Uncontrite Modal Folker"...(have a tee-shirt that says so)...I appreciate that summary!


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 09:26 PM

Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water again!!!


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 10 Sep 00 - 10:55 PM

Here are two more documents I have found that may be useful:

Click here then click on Modal Harmony

This article deals with what chords should be used to accompany tunes in Ionian, Dorian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian modes.

Modes and Scales in Traditional Scottish Music

The introduction to this one is tantalizing, but it looks terribly long and complete - and its millions of examples are given in abc - so I haven't worked up the courage to study it yet. But take a look if you're studying about modes.

Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 10 Sep 00 - 11:01 PM

Errata:

The second link should be:

Modes and Scales in Traditional Scottish Music

Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Barbara
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 01:09 AM

And I think the Beatles song Within You, Without You is in locrian. Check it out.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: death by whisky
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 08:05 AM

....and what about the Diddleian mode for all those Irish tunes!!!!


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 10:55 PM

In Peter's article and the "Modal Harmony" article I gave a link to, the "practical side" of modes is all about the kinds of chords need to harmonize modal tunes.

But what I want to know, as a fiddler, is how to use modal tunes in medleys.

I know that every major key has a relative minor key; is it also useful to say that the Ionian mode of a given note has a relative Dorian and relative Mixolydian?

It's my observation that going from a major key tune into another tune in the relative minor works great (i.e. G major tune followed by E minor tune), but that going from a major tune into what would be its relative Dorian (i.e. D major in E Dorian) doesn't work at all.

A lot of the tunes in my scrapbook I can identify as Dorian, but I'm less sure about Mixolydian - are "Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "Mairi's Wedding" Mixolydian? If they are, then I've tried going from a major into the relative Mixolydian and found that it's workable but not as seamlessly as into the relative minor.

I wonder if E minor and E Dorian tunes would flow well together, or A major with A Mixolydian tunes, since they share the same starting guitar chord...

These are my observations, but they're based on a very small sample and some doubts as to whether I've identified the modes correctly.

I'd like to know if there is some systematic way of laying out what tunes can go with what.

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 14 Sep 00 - 10:16 PM

I'm refreshing this in the hopes that someone will take an interest in my question.

In the meantime I've learned that Wind That Shakes the Barley and Mairi's Wedding are in major keys, not Mixolydian. Wind That Shakes the Barley has two sharps in its signature but seems to centre around the note A, so I thought it was A Mixolydian, but I guess maybe it's just one of the "circular" tunes that have been mentioned.

And in the hopes of luring M.Ted back into the water... I wonder if you've already answered my question with:

"Other things that major/minor scales do that modes don't, is allow for the possibility of key changes, and allow the melody to be changed from major to minor..." (M.Ted, above).

So does that mean if you start with a G major tune you can switch casually to an E minor tune, and make a leap to some other major key and have it not sound too disjointed... whereas if you start with a tune in E Dorian it should only be followed by other tunes in E Dorian?

I'm also trying to understand this statement:

"Through the use of changing harmonies, they make it possible to change the tone center of the melody to any of the other scale notes, without changing the underlying tonality of the melody--" (M.Ted again).

So if you have a song where you play G chord on the first two bars, then C on the next two bars, then D on the next two bars... does that mean that in bars 3 and 4 the tone centre is C, and in bars 5 and 6 the tone centre is D, and the underlying tonality is G? Is that what you mean by changing the tone centre? Or can you say that bars 3 and 4 are actually in the key of C major and that there has been a short-lived modulation?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Hedy West (current membership)
Date: 14 Sep 00 - 10:46 PM

Marion,

If you've chosen G triad (chord) as your home base, you've chosen G as your tonic. It would be a real drag to hang around there forever. (Who'd want to keep listening?) So, the most common strayings off are

1st, to the C triad, undermining (but not destroying) the tonic weight of G by using it as the 5th of of its subdominant (i.e., the pitch that lies a 5th under it, therefore "sub" dominant)

2nd, to the D triad, G's dominant (which by repeating G's 2nd overtone, seems simply to echo the G triad and give more weight to it. Because the D triad also contains the pitch F#, it's a cinch to create a demand to return to tonic G. F# is G's "leading tone" - it leads to G - & voila, there you are back home feeling very satisfied after a little trip.

And all the time you stayed in G tonic.

First vacation finished. You can study where you want to stray next time.

Hedy


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 14 Sep 00 - 11:12 PM

Hi Hedy, and thanks for answering. Does your use of the phrase "current membership" mean that you're new to Mudcat? If so, welcome, and I like your writing style.

I'm familiar with the I IV V progression of short-lived chords within a song or tune. Does it also apply to the sequence of tunes within a medley? I mean, would you play a G major reel on the fiddle (with your guitarist playing G, C, D, Em) then go straight into a C major reel (with the guitarist playing C, F, G, Am) then a D major reel then another G major reel?

I remember from another thread someone said it was cool to shift from some G tunes into A tunes. This I to II sequence isn't something you see often in guitar chords for individual songs.

I wonder if there's any connection between how the chords of bars within a tune go together and how the keys of tunes within a medley go together.

thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Hedy West (current membership)
Date: 15 Sep 00 - 01:57 AM

Merion,

The "current membership" is a device to differentiate between me-real & me-faux: I was "honored" by an impersonater on this website starting I think in January. "Current..." is the real-version; I've just been talking strolls here a couple of weeks. Thanks for the welcome.

I wrote that bit above in answer to your, "So if you have a song where you play G chord on the first two bars, then C on the next two bars, then D on the next two bars... does that mean that in bars 3 and 4 the tone centre is C, and in bars 5 and 6 the tone centre is D, and the underlying tonality is G? Is that what you mean by changing the tone centre? Or can you say that bars 3 and 4 are actually in the key of C major and that there has been a short-lived modulation?"

"Tonal centre" is synonymous with "tonic". You seemed to have been asking whether one is changing the tonic/tonal center each two measures in a standard I IV V I progression.

Your, " Doesit also apply to the sequence of tunes within a medley? I mean, would you play a G major reel on the fiddle (with your guitarist playing G, C, D, Em) then go straight into a C major reel (with the guitarist playing C, F, G, Am) then a D major reel then another G major reel?"

In standard traditional playing, I do not think that formula was followed; BUT, that ought to be a most satisfactory sounding formula. Folk forms are shorter, and didn't generally get carried away to larger applications of harmonic movements - that was what happened in Western classical music, and to what marvellous places it DID get carried! Viz., in Brahms, there's glorious "carrying"!

It's MY opinion that you CAN do what you discover you CAN do.

The one-step-up tonal movement is a sort of one-time-thing, a bit of a static terracing that doesn't move you along with the dynamic of creating a demand for the return of the tonic, like the I IV V I sequence. (Or some more elaborate variations of the same). BUT, it's fun.

So, have it!

Hedy


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Turtle
Date: 15 Sep 00 - 12:21 PM

Wow, Peter, this is amazing. I remember the two long threads, but I never saw this compendium back in March. And then just this week I was talking about modes with a friend of mine who plays accordion, and I told her I'd seen something on the Mudcat and I'd try to excerpt the useful bits for her, and voila! here it is all neat and tidily summed up for us, and conveniently refreshed by Marion (thanks Marion!).

Thank you, thank you.

Turtle


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Sep 00 - 03:46 PM

Lots of people helped relieve my excruciating stupidity -- and the new additions are interesting too.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 17 Sep 00 - 06:26 PM

Turtle, next time you're looking for this thread, you can go to "Links" (not "Quick Links") and look in the music theory category. So what are these two long threads whereof you speak?

Thanks for the clarification Hedy. But I'm not sure about your statement that I can do what I discover I can do, at least at this stage in my learning. My intuition is that it's important to know what the rules are and how to use them (or call them "conventions" or "accumulated wisdom of our craft" if you don't like the sound of "rules") before starting to deviate from them. This is a bone I have to pick with my fiddle teacher - whenever I ask a question like "when should I use unisons?" he always answers "whenever you want to - whatever sounds right to you." While I'm sure that he's right in that it's ultimately the musician's decision how to play something, as a beginner this isn't useful advice, because I don't know when I want to play unisons (or strictly speaking I never want to play unisons because they're more difficult than single notes), and I'm not educated enough to tell when they fit.

But maybe you didn't mean "do whatever you want" and just wanted to say "trust your ear to tell you what fits". There's truth to that, I'm slowly discovering. I am still hoping that somebody will confirm or deny my thesis that:

"So does that mean if you start with a G major tune you can switch casually to an E minor tune, and make a leap to some other major key and have it not sound too disjointed... whereas if you start with a tune in E Dorian it should only be followed by other tunes in E Dorian?"

But whether or not I find out if this is a standard rule, it is definitely what my ear seems to be telling me, so it's the rule I'm going with for now.

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,John Bauman
Date: 17 Sep 00 - 10:26 PM

Jeeeeez I wish I culd get my mind around this. My particular learning disability seems to be that I can't grasp a theory concept very well until I can also hear it illustrated. Did anyone get one of those mode slide rules that guest Bruce was offering back in march? Know how to get one? I spent the better part of the day a month ago creating a colour chart of the intervals so I could teach myself the modes but intervals don't translate easily to the guitar and it is a painfully long process to get up to speed in any mode so as to catch the "sound" of the mode--and dammit, no Julie Andrews singing do, 1/2re, mi, fa, etc in my mind. Howdidja learn the sound?

John


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Hedy West (current membership)
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 09:02 PM

Marion,

You sound meticulous. That can be useful, if you don't let it block you. I consider "rules" building materials, and not "no-no's". Some rules can seem to contradict other rules, and it's up to you and your ear to sort out what you want to use. You gotta be the final judge, rather than depend on a teacher or another creature to select what ingredients you want to use to construct your music. Sure, it sounds amorphous, but how very nice to have a selection!

If you want to know my opinion (and you may not want my opinion), it is: Listen much and carefully. Take sharp notice of the sounds that thrill you, and figure out how they're made, then practice them. When you have them under control, experiment with them, and take careful notice of whatever creeps into your own playing that you like, either by design or by accident. It's up to you to develop an esthetic. My dearest core-rule for myself is: avoid the gatekeepers at ALL COST. They'll spoil all your joy and turn you to dust. And that's NOT what music is about!

You have to be the somebody who confirms or denies your thesis. And, since you say, "...it is what my ear seems to be telling me..." follow your ear. It's the only one you have. Do it; you'll reassess it unavoidably.

Adios,

Hedy West


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 11:31 PM

I've upgraded the stressed note-key-mode software on my website to support semitone sequences. Instead of the W and H that Peter T. used in the first note above I use 2 and 1. So W (whole step) is 2 semitones and H (half step) is one semitone. I can then use 3 and higher numbers that are needed for other modes. The numbers, rather than letters, for semitone sequences lets you do any mode, and you can check it, because the sum of the all the digits of a semitone sequence must equal 12. Lydian is then 2221221 and Ionian is then 2212221, etc. (Cyclic permutation of 2212221 gives semitone sequences of the 7 'greek' modes)

About a year ago some said in this forum that there were 180 modes in Turkish music and they all had names. I've now got that many modes among the 6504 British Isles tunes coded on my website. They don't all have names, but they don't need them, because my mode# identifies them uniquely (and you can get the actual scale relative to the keynote from it by simple math- no tables needed).

The (numerical) semitone sequence is also a unique mode identifier, but over 95% of the digits are 1's or 2's and in a long list of semitone sequences the numbers all start looking about the same (almost as bad as reading long binary numbers). The tunes in my COMBCOD2.TXT file vary from a 3 note scale- Mode# 10, semitone sequence 228, to an 11 note scale- Mode# 2046, semitone sequence 21111111111. That last one demonstrates the difficulty in using semitone sequences for mode identifiers. How long does it take you just to count up the number of 1's in it? 2046 is a lot easier to deal with (and 2047 is the maximum possible, a 12 note scale)

See the tune code files and program at: www.erols.com/olsonw


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: nutty
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 06:00 PM

I always found it interesting that Plato descibed our major key C - C as the lavascious mode........ not suitable for serious music and liable to lead astray all those who used it
Now I know why music is fun


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 00 - 01:05 AM

Where did Plato say that? It's also been said (I forget who, but it was't Plato) that the devil has all the best tunes.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Marion
Date: 29 Nov 00 - 08:22 PM

I've heard that Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said "Why should the devil have all the good music?" to justify the technique of putting hymn lyrics onto drinking songs. Maybe this is the quote you mean.

Marion


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Burke
Date: 30 Nov 00 - 07:12 PM

If Booth said it he was quoting someone else. I've seen it attributed to Booth, Martin Luther, & one of the Wesley's. Bartlett's quotations has only been able to trace it to the biography of an English preacher named Rowland Hill 1744-1833.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Dec 00 - 09:04 AM

You mean, Sir Rowland, the modern Mr. Postman himself?
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Burke
Date: 01 Dec 00 - 10:00 AM

No, Mr. Postman, 1795-1879, was 50 years younger than the preacher.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Sorcha
Date: 21 Apr 01 - 11:26 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Apr 01 - 11:52 AM

Thanks for refreshing! You can lead a banjo player to water but can you make him drink!


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 21 Apr 01 - 03:18 PM

Peter T.-- I am in awe. What a truly fine piece of work!!!!!!!!

CC


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Apr 01 - 03:21 PM

Gotcha. Thanks bes/bud.

~S~


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: toadfrog
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 02:39 AM

I like this thread, and will use it for reference. But I believe there are also five-tone modes, which are interesting. I lived in Japan when I was a kid, and find that a number of old Southern Apalachian songs sound Japanese, because they appear to use the same notes. I am not trained in musical theory, but I believe Little Carpenter is in a mode like the more accessible and familiar Japanese songs like the Coal Miner's Dance (Tanko Bushi) or China Night. If I wanted to play these on a guitar, I would use one chord and when it seemed right to change chords, add a second to the chord instead. Most Chinese songs have a simliar sound, so I would guess the mode is the same.

More typical Japanese songs have a wilder sound and are less accessible to Western ears. These appear to be in the same mode as Shady Grove, and possibly Oh Death (as Dock Boggs sings it) although I haven't looked at that one so closely. And in the improbable event anyone wanted to play these on a guitar, it would go with D (Tonic) and C [Leading ???] chords. Or some folks might play D and A minor. A long time ago, I believed I had the scales worked out, but forgot how they went.

Does anyone either (a) know the theory for Asian music or (b) think this is worth pursuing.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 11:44 AM

There are various attempts to match Asian scales to Western (we had an Indian folk song thread that dabbled in this), pivoting around pentatonic scales (we are not talking exact equivalents here). There is something called the Veryan Weston system which goes as follows:

start on D with a pentatonic scale (let's call it D minor for convenience sake): D-F-G-A-C-D. If you sharpen the F and C, you have something like the SouthEast Asian Pelog scale; if you then additionally sharpen the G, you approach the Japanese Hirajoshi scale. If you then also sharpen the D, you have something like the Japanese Kumoi scale.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: toadfrog
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 05:00 PM

Interesting. Looking for stuff on the Web under "pentatonic" Or even "Kumoi" turns up more stuff (mostly guitar instructions) than the shortness of life permits me to examine. This site does identify a "Chinese" or "Mongolian" mode also identified as a "country-western" mode. Decidedly odd. It may also, as Peter suggests, be decidedly simple-minded.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 09:32 AM

As and excercise in weirdness, listen to this midi. The tune is normally attributed to a well known 18th century western composer, but I've done something bizarre to it.
(Feel free to guess who got credit for writing it and what I did to it, or not)

This site has some good information on modes.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 10:00 AM

http://www.crosssound.com/CS00/CS00Instruments/CSTHEKOTO/Koto.html has information on traditional Japanese scales.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 10:24 AM

Jeri, I hope you're happy *BG* because this song is driving me crazy. I keep hearing traditional songs like Aileen Aroon and Amazing Grace instead of an 18th century composer. I simply can't hear a I,IV,V7 chord progression, even with all the decoration taken out. The only thing that hits me is the interval in the 9th measure, but that could be a red herring. Any hints?


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 10:51 AM

John- Intervals are easy to deal with on a guitar, where 1 fret=1 semitone or half step.

I have no problems with modes, except that they seem (to me) to be based on an even-tempered scale (at least in all the explanations I've encountered). The fiddlers, singers and players of fretless banjos I've encountered in the field didn't pay much attention to even-tempered scales, but seemed to prefer natural scales. In these, the interval between, say, a D and an E depends upon what key you're playing in. I knew an old Kentucky banjo picker (Rufus Crisp) who filed off the frets on his banjo "so he could pick the right notes".


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: mousethief
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 10:53 AM

First off, bravo PeterT! A wonderfully easy-to-follow introduction to modes.

Second, a question: how does this apply to the question of well-tempering? Before pianos were well-tempered, I assume starting on D and ending on D would NOT end up with a Doric scale, am I right?

Third, a mnemonic device:

Take PeterT's wonderful chart:

Ionian goes: W-W-H-W-W-W-H (all natural)
Dorian goes: W-H-W-W-W-H-W (b3, b7)
Phrygian goes: H-W-W-W-H-W-W (b2, b3, b6, b7)
Lydian goes: W-W-W-H-W-W-H (#4)
Mixolydian goes: W-W-H-W-W-H-W (b7)
Aeolian goes: W-H-W-W-H-W-W (b3, b6, b7)
Locrian goes: H-W-W-H-W-W-W (b2, b3, b5, b6, b7)

But order it in the order of added sharps or flats (using Ionian as a baseline):

Lydian (#4)
Ionian (all natural)
Mixolydian (b7)
Dorian (b3, b7)
Aeolian (b3, b6, b7)
Phrygian (b2, b3, b6, b7)
Locrian (b2, b3, b5, b6, b7)

Then add back in the letter each scale starts with when playing on the white keys:

F Lydian (#4)
C Ionian (all natural)
G Mixolydian (b7)
D Dorian (b3, b7)
A Aeolian (b3, b6, b7)
E Phrygian (b2, b3, b6, b7)
B Locrian (b2, b3, b5, b6, b7)

Well looky there! It's our old friend the circle of fifths! "Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle"

Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this is cool. But I think this is cool!

Tomorrow, I will show why this predicts UFO sightings in 1953 and Jesus Christ returning in late 2004. ;-)

Alex


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 11:00 AM

Mary, what you have to do is figure out what I did to it. I added no notes. If you have a bit of hacking ability, and can figure out what I did to it, you can figure out how to hear the tune as written. Peter, and other serious modalists, sorry to harp on about this in your thread. It is a bit pertinent.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 12:13 PM

Jeri, I tried looking at it in Cakewalk and slowing it down...I really thought you had added notes though. I'll try changing the rhythm. I know you're a tune person so I should look more at the succssive note intervals instead of hearing chord progressions. hmmmmm...does this relate to modes?


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 03:39 PM

I think that we should look really carefully at what Dick has said here, because, as he says, all of these explanations of modes relies on tempered scales, and modes, in the sense of folk music and early music, really have nothing to do with the tempered scale--

The tempered scale is an artificial device that was introduced into Western Classical Music relatively recently, and really evolved from modes--the modal scale had irregular intervals--for instance, the interval between D and A was a perfect fifth, but the interval between A and E wasn't, and because the scale was not chromatic, it wasn't possible to play, say, an Ionian mode, starting on any other step of the scale than the C--

When Mousethief talks about sharps and flats in relation to modes, technically, he makes a mistake, because the modal scale had no sharps and flats--also, the piano has always been a tempered instrument, at first it used "mean temperament", so you could play the same scales on both C and D, though mean temperament started going out of tune after about three flats--

Technically speaking, it was never possible to play actual modes on the piano, because the modal system used scale pitches that were not on a piano, and the major/minor scales(and a tuning system that allowed them) had replaced modes in classical music by that time anyway--

I hate the discussions about modes and tempering, because most of the questions that come up have answers that require a lot better understanding of the technicalities of music than most people (even classical trained musicians) have, and, even more important, it is not very useful for most people (including musicians) to understand those answers anyway--

If the truth were told, I believe that PeterT's admirable effort still doesn't address the basic issue that he was trying to deal with, which had to do with trying to figure out what certain guitar books meant when they talked about modes--

I think a lot of confusion could be eliminated if modern guitar and jazz teachers(and the authors of instruction books) didn't use the term "mode"which is technically inaccurate) and instead said "Dorian Scale"(etc) which accurately describes both the scale and fingering positions that their students can use to improvise over dominant chord progressions--


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: mousethief
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 04:14 PM

Okay, I think I understand what you're saying, M.Ted, but fretted instruments like your standard banjo and guitar are even- or well-tempered. We couldn't play in a non-well-tempered-based scale or "mode" if we wanted to.

As for singing unaccompanied in a non-well-tempered-based scale, wouldn't that be something that you have to have an "ear" for, which you could only get from hearing somebody else sing in such a scale? Where can we hoi polloi go to find such a thing?

Alex


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 05:16 PM

I agree with MTed about the conflicting use of "modes" language issue in all these books. How to drive people insane to no purpose.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 05:37 PM

Mary, try looking at the name of the tune and see if that gives you any ideas. (If you saved it from earlier, click again - I changed the name.) As for further hints, you'd better PM me because I think I may be making a pain of myself. (And I don't want you to flame me publicly when you figure it out. ;-) There are two hints in my last message.

I think the tune is in Mixolydian mode. It's actually hexatonic. Thing is, it sounds an awful lot like Asian pentatonic music, and I wonder if the pentatonic scale we're discussing is in Myxolodian and just leaves out certain notes. I think this may explain why some western music sounds like some Asian music. (Please note, I don't know much about theory, and I'm posting very simplistic opinion based on the way the music sounds to me.)


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 05:55 PM

MT,

When accacompanied by instruments, our ear actually tells us to sing in non-tempered fashion(people run into intonation problems for this reason)--also, though the fretted instruments are fretted, you can de-temper by simply ear tuning to an open chord--another thing about fretted instruments, you intuitively bend the pitches on the frets to alter the pitch to what your ear tells you it should be--Ever played leads on a guitar in closed positions, only to discover that , when you played open chords, you were out of tune?

If you think that this whole business would mean that everyone was in slightly different tune, you would be right--tempering provides standardization, which has not necessarily been there before--in Turkish classical music, the fretted instruments have movable frets, and the players decide for themselves which pitch is the right one for a lot of the scale steps--it works because they don't use chords, and they like the tension that dissonances create--


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 06:02 PM

OK Jeri, we'll continue this in PM! I have played it backwards, different rhythms, with and without accidentals, I've refreshed my memory on Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart...I'm comin' to get ya! *BG* But first I'll check that name, and then get another hint...


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: toadfrog
Date: 26 Dec 01 - 10:29 PM

Being almost untutored in musical theory, I hesitate to put my $.02 in here, but it seems to me Bronson has a very interesting article on the subject ("Folk Song and the Modes,") with some useful rules of thumb for non-trained persons like me. Someone else doubtless can explain it better than I. But I can't find a reference to it in any of the accessible threads. Has it been discussed?


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 May 02 - 09:58 AM

I'll just refresh this instead...........


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Sep 02 - 07:21 PM

Extension of the 'Greek' modes to scales of from 1 to 12 semitones is given in file GREEKMOD.TXT at www.erols.com/olsonw. There are 67 possible ones of them of which 38 have been observed. However, also observed are 143 modes that aren't in the 'Greek' mode domain.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,Master McGrath
Date: 22 Sep 02 - 07:32 PM

The only locrian tune I know of is Dave Goulder's Dust to Dust. Anybody know any others?


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 09:07 AM

I was thrilled a few days ago to discover that a Georgia Sea Islands tune ("Who'll Water My Flowers") which had a strange haunting sound about it was pure Dorian. I picked it out on the piano -- thanks to Mudcat. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 12:11 PM

In file COMBCOD3.TXT at www.erols.com/olsonw you will find sources for 303 dorian tunes.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 12:34 PM

Well, this is getting very complicated, what with all the W's, H's, b's, and 1/2's floating around.

Modes would be more fun if we realized that they were surely developed as a way to help musicians and singers learn new pieces more easily. In the past, paper/vellum was costly, inking music in was tedious, and few people could read it even when it was done. So surely modes were developed as a way to speed up the sounding-out and memorization of new chants, airs, and dances.

Picture a guy who plays C-recorder, where three fingers down produce the note G. He wants to share a song with a bass player, who produces a C when he has three fingers down. So the two can't communicate by sharing fingerings. They can't read music. So the first one plays the new tune a few times and says "It's Phrygian." The second gets the tune in his head and goes off to practice, keeping in mind that a Phrygian tune will use certain predictable notes. Voila! The next day they are playing it at the great hall of the next noble house down the road.

We should all leave our computers and make up some tunes in these modes, particularly the ones that have been almost forgotten, and play them with our friends.

PS I tried "Lemon Tree, Very Pretty," and it's not in the Lydian mode as stated above. It's in the key of F.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: M.Ted
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 01:30 PM

Nice story Leeneia, but not likely true. The "Greek" modes are also called "Church Modes" because were used by the composers of church music in the more than five hundred years before the era of common practice--the way that the modes were used was defined by rather strict rules--all within the boundaries of the classical composition of the day--which means that it was all written out--Neither names of the modes, nor the theory that dictated how they were used would have been known by untutored musicians--

The modal labels have only relatively recently(within the last hundred or so years) been used to analyze and describe folk melodies by musicologists--you don't need to know what mode a tune is in to learn it, and after you've learned it, it doesn't really matter much--


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 01:44 PM

leenia, you'll see in the file at the address cited that it's a lot less complicated if you get rid of those Ws, Hs, and 1/2s.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: harpgirl
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 07:41 PM

rebop


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: GUEST,M'Grath of Altcar
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 05:11 AM

Dust to Dust - written by Dave Goulder> Performed by Martin Carthy is on his Landfall album. It is Locrian.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: toadfrog
Date: 20 Apr 04 - 11:49 PM

A point about which I've always been curious: Are the "quarter tone" modes really all that different from what we are accustomed to? I've tried to ask several musicians who played Middle Eastern music, and most were not theoretically inclined. But one street musician explained that the music he played, basically Arabic, was in the harmonic minor with one or two notes either always or sometimes sharped or flatted by a quarter tone. That would be on the order of pulling a guitar string to produce a "blue note." Or comparable to "bending" sustained notes in Klezmer music, which appears to be influenced by Middle Eastern forms. It doesn't seem to mean that a genuinely different scale with different intervals is involved.

Can it be that that is all there is to the difference, or is there really a completely different theory? And if it is completely different, can anyone actually explain the difference?


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 07:29 PM

My understanding is that Turkish makams (compositional scales in their music) use eighth tones (equivalent to one 'comma').

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 12:12 AM

Peter is kind of right(but, given that it is Peter, it is only kind of;-)--

The scales are constructed using different values for the pitches than the Western scale--they can have the "blue note" effect, and it has occured to me that blue notes are really kind of an approximation of the use of quarter tones,, anyway, actually quarter tones--

Submitted, for your approval, probably more than you'll ever want to know about makams and usuls(with footnotes)--If you want to know even more(like what the differences are between Turkish and Arabic Makams(I actually like to spell it Maquam), I have an article about that, too, but I can't post it because it has notation graphics in it--pm me your e-mail address and I"ll create a PDF file and send it--




Aida Islam

Makams  and Usuls  versus Scales and Rhythms of Western Music

        In the Ottoman Empire, within the processes of cultural and artistic creativity, music embodied the most highly respected and favorite activity, and at the same time enjoyed the highest sense of dignity. (Judetz, E., 1998:11). In to their courts, the Ottoman sultans brought eminent musicians and composers of different countries, such as Iran, Egypt, India, Uzbekistan, Greece and France. These musicians were employed as state-sponsored musicians who enjoyed professional prestige and political acknowledgement. The Ottoman musical scene included members of other, smaller ethnic groups, such as Greeks, Jews, and Armenians. It is precisely this broadness that made this tradition last. (Bolat, L: 1-4). Within this context we will mention the fact that the history of Turkish music includes a person from the region of Macedonia - Niyazi from Skopje, who lived in the 15th century.
        It is evident that music influenced national entity since the Ottoman state and its rulers were not only patrons of the arts, but also participated in artistic activities with their personal artistic contributions. Thus, from the total of 38 sultans, about ten were professional musicians: performers, composers, or both (www.C\W..\Osmanli and Great-Ottoman Turkish Civilization from Yeni Turkiye.html). The courts included schools called Enderun, which were the cores of dissemination of Turkish traditional-artistic music (the first school of this sort was formed in 1363 by Murad I, with the conquest of Edrene) (Tanrikorur, C. 1989:501).
        To a certain extent, Ottoman music is a developed and sophisticated synthesis of the makam music of the Middle East and Central Asia. As many contemporary musicologists claim, in comparison to western polyphonic tonal music, Turkish traditional music is monophonic modal music, or so-called makam music, and is a product of development and systematisation based on mathematical laws (Songar, A., 1988: 5). The tonal systems of western and Turkish traditional music are in essence an interpretation of Pythagorean modes, which have evolved into different "dialects" throughout the centuries.
        We shall therefore present a comprehensive view of the basic features of the two systems which are in fact a reflection of the musical thought of two culturally different civilisations.
 

        1. The structure of tone-series in western and Turkish music and their process of formation

        The main difference between the tonal systems of western and Turkish music above all lies in the structure of the tone-series.Western music has been based on the tempered system for more than three centuries. It is a tonal system that includes 12 equal semitones.As opposed to that, the tonal system of Turkish music includes 24 tones that are placed at unequal lengths. One should stress that the tone-series of the contemporary tonal system in Turkish traditional music is in essence identical with the tone-series established in the 13th century. Namely, the tone-series established and elaborated by the renowned 13th century musician Safiyuddin Urmevi (1237-1294) in his theoretical work Kitab u'l Edvar contains 17 tones. The contemporary tonal system contains almost exactly the same tone-series (with small changes in the names of some tones), and is enriched with the integration of seven additional tones, with which the tone-series acquire 24 unequal tones (Akdogu, O., 1999: 13-27) (ex. no.1 - even though the nota initialis of the contemporary system is the tone C1- Chargah, to achieve a better comparison between the two tonal tone-series, the representation in the tables notes the correspondence of the order of the tones)



The tone-series in Turkish traditional music according to Safiyuddin Urmevi (13th century)

        The contemporary tone-series according to Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek (20th century)

        The tone-series in both systems also differ in the processes of formation. Namely, in western music, the tonal system is created by the sequencing of 12 pure fifths, one by one. In that way a tone-series of 12 semitones is achieved, where the last tone - which actually represents the octave of the starting tone - is one comma above the basic tone. Therefore, the surplus of one comma is divided into 12 equal parts (equally for all the created tones), which causes a shift and the formation of a system whose octave contains 12 equal tones.
The process of formation of the Turkish tonal system is somewhat different. Namely, starting from the tone Chargah (C1), 12 pure fifths  (one fifth contains 31 commas) and 11 pure fifths are sequenced. Thus, in the most natural way, with the arrangement of the created tones, the 24 tones tone-series is composed. However, as opposed to the 12-tone system, the tones within this octave are not set in equal spaces (the process is presented in the following example) (Ozkan, H., 18987: 65-6).
 
 

 

All the tones comprising the Turkish music tonal system

It is interesting to add that as in western music, the basic tone-series of Turkish music are the tone-series of the tone Chargah (C1), i.e C-major.

        2. The structure of the major second  in the tonal scales

         The second important feature of differentiation between the musical systems of the two music cultures is the structure of the tones in the tone-series.In the western diatonic scale, the distance between two tones that constitute one major second is divided with a semitone. It is placed on the ideal half of this distance and represents the semitones in the tone-series. The distance between this semitone and the neighboring semitones is 4.5 Pythagorean commas. The harmonic structure, i.e the polyphony of western music is based upon this arrangement of tones.
        The essential feature of Turkish music is in the existence of so-called microtones. Namely, in Turkish music, the distance in one major second is divided into nine equal segments, called Pythagorean commas (comma = the smallest segment of the tone heard by the human ear) (Dogrusöz, N., 1980:570).



     The structure of the major second in the Turkish system

        From the nine commas the major second consists of, the intervals of 4, 5, 8, and 9 commas are used in practice (the interval of 9 commas is actually the next, i.e previous tones). The interval of 1 comma is rarely used in practice. Closest to the semitone which in the western scale consists of 4.5 commas is the tone which is here at a distance of 4 commas. Every comma is marked by a specific graphic representation, whereas the micro interval is marked with a corresponding letter.

        Because of the different calculations of the semitones in the two tonal systems (the western system has 4.5 commas, the Turkish has 4 commas), the octave in the tempered system contains 54, whereas Turkish music contains 53 commas.Presented in cents, the western system contains one semitone as equal to 100 cents, and the tone contains 200 cents. However, in Turkish music, the "semitone" contains 90, whereas the "tone" contains 204 cents.

        3. The definitions and features of the tone-series

        The tone-series in both systems differ in their definition. In Turkish music, the tone-series present a sequence of 8 tones composed of one tetrachord and one pentachord (or vice versa) named cheshni  which means "taste" (cheshni = taste). (Özkan, I., 1897: 71). The combination of different tetrachords and pentachords enables the creation of a great number of tone-series or makams. The employment of these tone-series in accordance to specific rules yields the formation of makams - the basis of Turkish music (makam = music tone, melody). Theoretically, hundreds of makams can be formed. Within the opus of Turkish music, over 500 makams are used. Nevertheless, about a hundred of them have a wider use in practice (Oransaray: www.turkmusikisi.com).

        3.1 Characteristics and classification of makams

Makams are not only typical for Turkish music; they are quite common in the music of Central Asia. Nonetheless, according to the definitions of numerous musicologists, makams in Turkish music represent tone-series governed by certain rules in terms of the movement of melody (seyir), the inter-relationship among the tonal, dominant tone and the tones on which minor alterations are made (asma karar). According to western system standards (microtonal melody), the outcome of these rules is the diatonic melody encompassing tones "outside the melody"(Tura, Y., 1988:141).

        Makams are classified into three categories:

1. Basic makams (13 makams)
2. Transposed makams (created by transposing the basic makams to other tones)
3. Compound makams (clusters of two or more makams).

        In the study of scales within western music, there is a general rule equally applicable to all scales. However, in Turkish music, the general principles applicable to all makams cannot be determined. Thus, Turkish music theory studies each makam separately.
Several makams coincide with some of the scales of the western music system, such as:
Chargah makam = C-major; Mahur makam = G-major, Ajem ashiran makam = F-major, Buselik makam = a-minor; Sultani segah makam = d-minor, and Nihavend makam = g-minor.

        4. Some features of makam tone-series versus scales in western music

        4.1. Naming the tone-series

        In western music, scales are named according to the nota initialis of the tone-series, regardless of their direction of movement.The names of makams vary depending on the height of the nota initialis, but also on the direction of movement of the melody line, called seyir (Seyir = the movement of the tone-series which produces the makam). The movements can be: 1. ascending, 2. descending, or 3. descending -ascending (Yilmaz, Z., 2001:75). In fact, the movement - which is of great importance, is not a fixed scheme but a melodic pattern which finalises the form of the composition (Judetz - Sirli, 2000:140).
 Therefore, one of the distinguishing features of Turkish music is that two makams having identical tonal structure are considered to be different depending on the typical melodic movement (Behar, C., 1987:132). For instance, the Husseyni and Muhajjer makams, in spite of their identical tone-series, are regarded as different because of their opposite direction of movement. The tone-series of the first makam is ascending, whereas the second is descending, which explains why these makams bear different names.

Husseyni makam
        
 Muhajjer makam

        Consequently, the Turkish theoreticians believe that makams are not only scales, but they are rules and principles of composition. (Hines, E., www.hinesmusic.com/What Are Makams.html).The names of makams have independent meanings and usually bear the names of regions, as well as personal names, such as Isfahan, Irak, Husseyni, Suz-i Dilara, Lalegyul, Gyulizar, and Gyuldeste.

        4.2 The function of tones in tone-series

        The function of the tones in the makam tone-series are similar to the function of the tones in western music notation scales. Namely, the tonal tone is the tone that ends the composition, and it is known as Durak (Durak = delay). In western scales, the dominant has a fixed position at the fifth tones. On the other hand, in makams, the dominant tone is the tone that forms the connection between the pentachord and the tetrachord (and vice versa). Thus, depending on the combination, the dominant named Gyuchlu (Güçlü = powerful) can take the fourth or fifth tones in the tone-series. The seventh tones that has the role of leading note is called Yeden (Yeden ) and bears the distance of one or half tones from the basic tone.

        4.3 Cadence

         The Turkish music tonal system consists of three types of cadence:
    1) authentic cadence, named Tam karar (Tam karar = full decision); as in western music, it ends with the tonic;
    2) semi-cadence - Yarim karar (Yarim karar  = semi decision), which ends with the dominant (fourth or fifth tones). The semi-cadence can rarely end with the third tones, or the tonic with the descending tone-series.
    3) hanging cadence - Asma karar (Asma karar = hanging decision), which may differ in all separate makams. This cadence expresses a weak feeling of conclusion and is treated as a sort of delay in movement, usually found at the second, fourth, sixth, or seventh tones.

        4.4. Key signatures in tone-series

        In addition to the classification in minor and major scales, the classification of scales in western music also rests on the key signatures.
It is interesting to note that in Turkish music, this type of classification is impossible due to the combined key signatures that many makams contain. In the orthographic depiction of these makams, the sharps follow the flats, whereas the order of the key signatures is identical with the one in western music (Özkan, H., 1987:77)

        4.5 Expanding the tone-series

There are three ways of expanding the tone-series in Turkish music:
1. Symmetrical expansion : when the lower tetrachord (or pentachord) is transferred to the upper tonic. In this case, the structure of the tone-series remains unaltered, but the names of some of the tones change (since in the second octave the tones acquire new names).
2. Creating a new tone-series  by adding a new tetrachord (or pentachord) to the dominant, a completely new scale is acquired.
3. Borrowing: a tetrachord (or pentachord) is borrowed from a neighboring makam. This triggers the creation of new tones that do not exist in the basic tone-series of the makam (Ozkan, H., 1987:75-6).

     5. Metric and rhythmical features

        In essence, rhythm in Turkish music is expressed through rhythmical schemes known as usuls. The usul is a rhythmic group consisting of tones with different duration. At the same time, the variation in loudness of the beats must be taken into account. According to loudness, tones are divided into strong, semi-strong and weak. The usul is often called "petrified state of time" (Özkan, H., 1987:561).
        In practice, the beats are used to determine the strong and weak times.  The beats have separate names composed of syllables such as dum, tek, te, ke, tek-ka, ta-hek. Dum and te are beats of the righthand on the right knee, and ka and ke are beats of the left hand on the left knee. During the beat ta-hek, both hands are lifted at the first syllable, and dropped on the knees at the second.
        In Turkish music performance, the rhythmic structure is usually emphasized by the use of a percussion instrument (Judetz, E., 2000:15).The basic rhythmical units in western music are binary and ternary. Their combination usually results in the creation of regular rhythmical units such as 2+2 or 3+3.
        Quite contrary to that, Turkish music is abundant with metrical units - around 124. By combining the simple rhythms, 80 complex rhythmic schemes (usuls) can be created. Their rhythm might be regular or irregular, such as 2+3, 2+2+3, 3+2+3 and 2+3+3+2 (www. Ses Sistemlerki Uzerine (Dr Hanefi Ozbek).htm). One of the most frequent rhythmical patterns in Turkish music is the 9/8 irregular rhythm known as Aksak usul.
         Usuls are classified in accordance to two categories:
1. according to the content: simple  and complex
2. according to size: small  and big

     6. The basic feature of Turkish music versus western music

         In addition to the horizontal segment - melody, western music contains a vertical segment - harmony.
         On the contrary, the basic principle of development in Turkish classical music can be described as cultivisation of the melodic aspect by means of microtonal makams. This accounts for the fact that polyphonic choir performance is not a common feature of Turkish music (Bartok, B., 1949)
         Therefore the creation of works in the western music system is based on the use of complex harmonies and polyphony, whereas Turkish music operates solely through the development of monodic melodic lines.

Bibliography:

Aksoy, Bulent. Orta Dogu Klasik Musikisinin Bir Merkezi: Istanbul. Osmanli Kultur ve Sanat. Istanbul
Bartok, Bela. 1949. Turkiye'de Halk Turkuleri Derlemeleri. Filarmoni, S.13.Ankara

Behar, Cem. 1987. Klasik Türk Musikisi üzerine denemeler. Istanbul: Bailam Yayinlari

Bolat Latif. Turkish Music. Internet, C:Windows/Desctop/Information on Turkish music. Htm
Demirer, M.: www.turkmusikisi.com

Dogrusöz, Nilgün. 1980. Geleneksel Türk Müziginde Makam ve Unsurlar (Osmanli Kültür ve Sanat). Istanbul: Yeni Türkiye Yayinlari
 

Yilmaz, Zeki. 2001. Türk Müsikisi Dersleri. Istanbul: Çaglar Yayinlari

Judetz, P. Eugenia - Sirli, A. Adriana. 2000. Sources Of 18th Century Music. Istanbul: Pan Yayincilik

Oransay:www.turkmusiki.com

Ozbek Hanefi. www. Ses Sistemleri Uzerine.htm

Özkan, Ismail Hakki. 1987. Türk Mûsikîsi Nazariyati ve Usûlleri - Kudüm Velveleleri. Istanbul: Ötüken Nesriyat.

Songar, Ayhan. 1988. Türk Müzigi Ile Bati Müziginin Ses Sistemlerinin Karsilastirilmasi. T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanliginca Ankara`da düzenlenen 1. Müzik Kongresi. 15. Haziran

Tanrikorur, Cinucen. 1998. Osmanli Devleti ve Medeniyeti Tarihi - II. Ed. E. Ihsanoglu. Istanbul: IRCICA
 

Tura, Yalçin. 1988. Türk Musikisinin Mes`eleleri. Istanbul: Pan Yayincilik
 

www.hinesmusic.com/What Are Makams.html
 

www.C:\W/.\Osmanli and the Great-Ottoman Turkish Civilization from Yeni Turkiye.ht
 
 


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Amos
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 12:16 AM

Pricelsss, M. Ted. Thanks very much.

A


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 10:59 AM

Greek and Armenian music use makams, but with Western pitches, and no quarter tones(Klezmer music has it's own system, but is very similar). They also tend to used chordal accompaniments. Their music includes a lot of the traditional Turkish melodies, as well.


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 03:26 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Alec
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 11:24 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: MODES FOR MUDCATTERS: A SYNTHESIS PRIMER
From: Alba
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 11:27 AM

Great Thread but why is it yelling at me to look at it!!!!..*smile*


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 01:15 PM

This link labled: "Click here then click on Modal Harmony," posted by Marion on Sept. 10, '00 (http://www.celticmusic.com/magazine/tunes/) had a wonderful, easy-to-follow chart that lined up all the modes into rows and columns, so that you tell at a glance which keys and modes were "equivalent" to each other.

I used to use it often, so that I could put the right key signature into my ABC tunes. But now, when I click on it, I get an error message:

Not Found
The requested URL /magazine/tunes/ was not found on this server.

Can anybody tell me where it's gone, or where I can find a similar chart?

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: wysiwyg
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 01:31 PM

Current thread on Freygish scale oughtta be linked here too.....

~S~


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 03:49 PM

Here's the link to "Freygish Scale".

So-- is "Freygish" a repronounciation of Phrygian?


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 12:26 PM

No.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 04:02 PM

Care to elaborate, M.Ted? ..Or anyone?


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Jul 18 - 06:52 PM

Hello

Some fascinating detail here: too much on the scales of different cultures to take in for me.

Sadly, not all the links on this thread still function.

A point about minor scales in 'classical' music: there are more than one. In classical music they often use a major 7th if the tune is moving up, as it is felt to 'lead' to the tonic, but a minor, or flat one if it is moving down. So when we learned the melodic minor scale as kids it was different going up and coming down. Coming down, it was like the 'natural' or aeolian, with a flat7 or minor 7. Whereas, I guess, something more 'modal' would not have this characteristic.


More examples, but not necessarily folk/blues ones.

Feel Good Inc by Gorilla'z riff is aeolian.
Carlos Santana used to use Dorian a lot and still may.


One online course by Edinburgh University that I did used a mnemonic for modes, which I share:

I (ionian)
Don't (dorian)
Punch (phrygian)
Like (lydian)
Mohammed (mixoldian)
A (aeolian)
L (lochrian)

This is the order if you work your way round a 'major' or 'ionian' scale starting from the bottom eg C ionian, D dorian etc.

On another course, I learned another way of thinking about them. It was a jazz-based course. The teacher (Gary Burton) thought of modes in terms of musical quality from 'light' to 'dark'. I found this a helpful way to think about the modes for some reason, especially when trying to play in one (assuming I knew the major scale).

The 'light' one was lydian, with a sharp 4th compared to the major scale.


Next came 'ionian', which is the major scale.

Then it starts to get 'dark':

Then mixo, with one flat compared with the major scale (b7)

Then dorian, with 2 flats compared with major   (b7, b3)


Then aeolian, 3 flats .........................(b7, b6 b3 )

Then phrygian 4 flats ......................   (b7, b6 b3, b2)

Then lochrian 5 flats ....................    (b7, b6, b5 b3 b2 )


There is a pattern for how the flats appear, as you will see.

The mnemonic for this ordering is


L ight

I nitially


M uddy


D arkness


A s


P lunge


L ower.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jul 18 - 10:30 PM

We talked about updating links in old threads, but decided not to - although I do updates links here and there when I'm working on a thread for other purposes. I do try to keep our "links" section up-to-date, but even that is an impossible task.

You can find an archive for many dead links at archive.org. Just go to archive.org and past the link into their "Wayback Machine."

Dick and Susan preferred to encourage people to learn how to search for themselves, instead of expecting links. After 20 years at Mudcat, I've seen so many links expire so many times - I see the wisdom of their thinking.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: KarenH
Date: 09 Jul 18 - 07:21 PM

Thanks Joe. I am still getting my head round Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Jul 18 - 09:41 AM

I'm not sure if anybody has made this point already in this thread, but:

Synthesis is NOT useful.

There are many different concepts of mode, for good reason, Which one you want depends on a question nobody here seems to have asked:

What are you going to do with the information?

The nine-mode system of the late Middle Ages had a specific purpose: it was to classify psalm and other liturgical melodies into groups that were easy to sing in the same service or on the same day - you didn't want to force your choir to make rapid changes of range and scale. It was about limiting variety. (A variant of the same idea is used today by the Syriac church - they have a system of modes based on Arabic models where the congregation stays in the same one for each month. Most of them are also associated with one of the Ten Commandments, so you spend a whole month singing in the Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery mode). For this system, modes are not just scales - each one has a standard range and a few standardized melodic features.

Boethius's earlier system (which was what the mediaeval theorists adapted) had a totally different purpose - it was a transposition scheme to help you adapt music for the instruments or voices you had available.

Glareanus's post-mediaeval twelve-mode system was developed at a time when polyphonic and harmonic composition was well established, and the people who performed it wouldn't have been bothered by changing range and scale in seconds. It seems to have been intended to catalogue the variety of tonal environments a composer could create - more or less the exact opposite of the mediaeval system. You get a similar purpose for the modal system implicitly used, though not often formalized, by Highland pipers - they exploit changes in tonal centre and harmonic space achieved by shifting from one pentatonic or hexatonic scale to another. The idea of this variety is military expedience: you want to keep the infantry's feet moving by relieving the boredom of a march as far as possible. (Hence, most of the pentatonic march repertoire dates from the 19th century, after the pipes became established in the British Army). With other largely diatonic instruments, gapped scales are an extremely useful resource for expanding the amount of music you can play; they are used implicitly by harpists and moothie players all the time.

Modal systems of Indian music are rather like the mediaeval chant system - you want extreme microtonal accuracy, so ragas have no accidentals or modulations whatever, but to compensate there is an unbelievable variety of them to choose from. Arabic music relaxes the rules a bit and use fewer modes, while Persian and Turkish music have modal systems based on the Arabic model that are designed to allow virtuosic modulatory wriggling. Also like the mediaeval chant system, for all these systems, range is standardized, and there are a great many standard melodic formulas, specific kinds of inflection and reference points that melodies progress through. Here the primary aim of the system is often to organize an improvisation in a way that an audience or a fellow-performer can follow.

Then you have the seven-mode piano-keyboard system that seems to been invented by someone in the middle of the 19th century with too much time on their hands, and really only found a useful application with the academic jazz of the 1960s and its encyclopaedic repertoire of chordal structures. This is the system most folkies think of as THE mode system - it does nothing very useful that I can think of. If all you can think of is "I gotta classify this", don't bother.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: leeneia
Date: 10 Jul 18 - 11:05 AM

I play piano, recorder, guitar and dulcimer. I arrange music and I compose it. I improvise.   I lead friends in music and teach them some, though I do not claim to be a professional teacher.

In 48 years of this, I have never found modes to be important or helpful. Oh, it's interesting to look at a song and say, "This is in the Dorian mode," (for example), but it doesn't really get a person anywhere. If you are a new player and you don't "get" modal music, don't worry about it.

In the middle ages, when a church musician might have been illiterate and the notes might not even have names yet (A to G), it might have helped to know that a certain group of chants was in a certain mode. It gave one an idea of which note to start and end on.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: John P
Date: 10 Jul 18 - 06:13 PM

In general I agree with leeneia. I've been doing all those things about as long and the mode has never made any difference to what got played or how. While actually playing music it just isn't important that "Old Joe Clark" is mixolydian and "Douce Dame Jolie" is dorian. You just learn the song.

I did sort of find a use for knowing modes recently. I said, "Let's do a G dorian jam" and just started to play without having to offer any further explanation.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 10 Jul 18 - 07:32 PM

A rather abridged quote from Wikipaedia:-
These medieval portative organs, so extensively used during the 14th and 15th centuries ..... contains nine pipes..

A mode is not constrained to start on any particular pitch, it is just a sequence of intervals, like our modern major and minor scalea. The names we give to notes are just an administrative convenience.

So it may be (tho' others may well know better) that every mode would start on the lowest note of the keyboard, and these primitive instrunents had to be retuned each time the mode changed, thus keeping the pitch at a comfortable level for the singers. (A reversal of the process whereby guitarists use a capo to change pitch without changing "mode", to suit a voice with a different range). A good reason to use one mode for a month!


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 03:25 AM

I don't know why this thread was started: it may just be out of general interest. But it seems to me that knowing the mode a song is in might help you to choose chords to accompany it. Because maybe the chords need to be constructed out of the notes of the scale/modal scale, just as the chords for, say, a tune in the key of A minor are different from those in A major.


Of course, if you are getting the chords from somewhere and not needing to work them out for yourself, or select them for yourself, the knowledge won't be useful.

Whether they were right or wrong, some early folk song collectors categorised the songs they heard according to whether they were dorian or aeolian etc. This was because if they were trained in 'classical' music theory, some of the notes in the tunes they collected broke the rules.

I believe they began to apply what were called the 'church modes' because for them, the use of such modes was a sign of the tune's antiquity. This is an interesting thought.

A L Lloyd's book on Folk Song in England has a section about modes, and so does the new book of, unfortunately, the same title, by Roud and Bishop. The latter book updates the thinking on the topic.

I was hoping that the subject might be discussed on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 04:36 AM

These medieval portative organs, so extensively used during the 14th and 15th centuries ..... contains nine pipes.

Some of them contain more than that, and often with two much longer ones which had to be used as drones. (Catalina Vicens has a lot of illustrations of them on her FB pages). From the lengths, you had a choice of two drone pitches a tone apart, as with the "Durer" style of bagpipe.

A mode is not constrained to start on any particular pitch, it is just a sequence of intervals, like our modern major and minor scales.

Urban legend. No they WERE fixed in pitch, and still are in may modal idioms. They were far more than just a sequence of intervals.


So it may be (tho' others may well know better) that every mode would start on the lowest note of the keyboard, and these primitive instrunents had to be retuned each time the mode changed, thus keeping the pitch at a comfortable level for the singers

A portative organ is not retunable like that. And they were most commonly used as a solo instrument.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 04:53 AM

If leeneia's dulcimer is a fretted mountain type, she'll be using modal reasoning all the time. With a dulcimer tuned to 2 sharps, you can play in:

D major
E dorian
G lydian/major hexatonic
F# minor/phrygian hexatonic
A mixolydian
B minor

all of which are common modes in Anglo-American folksong. You don't need to know you're doing this if you're playing solo, but for playing with others a common language really helps.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 04:58 AM

Never heard of a portative organ! Where can I find out more?

I think I want one! (MAD strikes again: Musicalinstrument Acquisition Disease) :(


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 06:18 AM

The two leading portative organ players these days seem to be Catalina Vicens and Christophe Deslignes. Both pretty easy to find on the web. Vicens posts a lot on FB. Deslignes has a superb 3-CD set, each covering music of a different period - I saw him once at a house concert where he described the technique involved, it's a lot more subtle than you'd think.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: KarenH
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 06:36 AM

Thank you, Jack.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Stanron
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 09:12 AM

I think that GUEST Ripov in the 10 Jul 18 - 07:32 PM posting hit the nail with 'medieval nine pipe portative organ'. Such primitive instruments were limited to specific notes and modes are a result of that kind of limitation.

Few modern instruments are so limited. Fretted instruments such as the lute, and today the guitar, were never limited in such a way. Unfretted instruments like the viol family and the human voice, of course, were never so limited as well. I find it difficult to believe that 'vulgar' music always kept to such arbitrary rules.

In retrospect it seems that Modes were an attempt to rationalise technical imperfections. Such rationalisation is not necessary today.

So why are Modes still a source of anxiety today?

I blame it on jazz and higher education.

Round about the time when jazz went from 'good time music' to 'a pain in the ears' it flirted with modes. I'm guessing that it flirted with one or two of them only. That in itself would not have resulted in the current concern about the subject.

It has always struck me as amusing that Universities teaching 'Popular Music' include jazz in their curriculum. Sometimes as a mandatory subject. A problem for Universities teaching Popular Music is what to teach students who may well be more talented that their teachers. Modes and jazz will do nicely.

The fact that students would benefit more from playing in front of audiences than playing in front of teachers would not benefit a profession from which I am now safely retired.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Stanron
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 09:20 AM

I forgot to add that when I make decisions on what to play, those decisions are based on sounds, not theoretical ideas. The 'sound' process is so much faster.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 09:27 AM

'medieval nine pipe portative organ'.

Almost all the ones we know about had far more pipes than that, though usually only one chromatic note (B flat), if any.

Bagpipes typically have nine available notes. The Highland pipe repertoire alone has something like 20,000 pieces. If you play an instrument like that you don't see a limitation.


Such primitive instruments were limited to specific notes and modes are a result of that kind of limitation.

Which is why modal thinking of some sort is used by almost all players of the commonest instrument in history, the diatonic harmonica. Every time you do a "position shift" or play "cross" you're using a modal concept.

Modes are very much a living idea.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Stanron
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 09:48 AM

Jack Campin wrote: If you play an instrument like that you don't see a limitation.


If you play with someone who plays an instrument like that you do. I spent several years playing tunes with a Northumbrian Small Pipes player. There were quite a few tunes he could not play. The instrument is virtually locked into playing F# as G although that is not related to modes.

The modal nature of the music pipes produce is not something I would label as an idea. There is no thought required. That is just what they are able to play.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 09:57 AM

I forgot to add that when I make decisions on what to play, those decisions are based on sounds, not theoretical ideas. The 'sound' process is so much faster.

But if someone else is playing with you, can you tell a diatonic moothie player which instrument to reach for, or a harpist which levers to flip?


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Stanron
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 10:29 AM

With the caveat that we are getting way off topic here, I could tell them what key I play in, if I change key perhaps, but I may not mention that F#s occasionally become F natural or that D becomes D# every now and then. I would expect them to deal with the deficiencies of their own instruments. Talking about music is a distinct second best to playing it.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 11 Jul 18 - 10:46 AM

'While actually playing music it just isn't important that "Old Joe Clark" is mixolydian and "Douce Dame Jolie" is dorian. You just learn the song.'

But it might save a few Dissonances if the the musicians in the session were able to say, "Old Joe Clark? The mixolydian or the dorian version?"

As Jack said, this stuff can be useful as a means of communication. Several good posts here, thanks Jack, and as a melodeon player I second what you said about moothies and modes.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 05:12 AM

For Pseudonymous - Catalina Vicens just posted a link to this:

Christophe Deslignes documentary on the portative organ


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 21 Jul 18 - 08:24 AM

Thanks, Jack, or should I say 'Merci'. You learn all sorts on this site. I was looking at your web site material on modes and pentatonic modes, but I don't have or even begin to understand 'abc'.

I gather 'moothie' is mouth organ. Took me a while to click on, not being Scottish.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jul 18 - 08:29 AM

I have links to a few ABC converter sites on my homepage - you just need to copy and paste.


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Subject: RE: Modes for Mudcatters: A Synthesis Primer
From: GUEST,Tootler
Date: 21 Jul 18 - 10:14 AM

Jack Campin wrote: If you play an instrument like that you don't see a limitation.

That's not entirely true. You are aware of the limitations but you look for workarounds.

However, as it happens there is a massive repertoire of tunes that can be played on a diatonic instrument. Even if the tunes sometimes have accidentals you don't have available there are often workarounds. Especially if playing with others.


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