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Relative Minor Key signatures?

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Richard Bridge 28 Apr 03 - 05:29 AM
GUEST 28 Apr 03 - 05:32 AM
Dave Bryant 28 Apr 03 - 06:07 AM
belfast 28 Apr 03 - 06:27 AM
GUEST 28 Apr 03 - 07:33 AM
Grab 28 Apr 03 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Rag 28 Apr 03 - 08:11 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Apr 03 - 08:34 AM
Jim Tailor 28 Apr 03 - 09:18 AM
Frankham 28 Apr 03 - 09:23 AM
Mr Red 28 Apr 03 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Ed 28 Apr 03 - 09:43 AM
Dave Bryant 28 Apr 03 - 09:45 AM
Jim Tailor 28 Apr 03 - 09:59 AM
Richard Bridge 28 Apr 03 - 01:58 PM
Ed. 28 Apr 03 - 02:17 PM
Ed. 28 Apr 03 - 02:39 PM
MAG 28 Apr 03 - 04:43 PM
Marje 28 Apr 03 - 04:57 PM
Ed. 28 Apr 03 - 05:39 PM
Frankham 28 Apr 03 - 06:11 PM
Frankham 28 Apr 03 - 06:40 PM
M.Ted 28 Apr 03 - 06:50 PM
Leadfingers 28 Apr 03 - 07:55 PM
Dave Bryant 29 Apr 03 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,M'Grath of Altcar 29 Apr 03 - 05:35 AM
greg stephens 29 Apr 03 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,T-boy 29 Apr 03 - 07:56 AM
treewind 29 Apr 03 - 08:43 AM
M.Ted 29 Apr 03 - 12:56 PM
greg stephens 29 Apr 03 - 07:38 PM
Bearheart 30 Apr 03 - 08:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 May 03 - 08:23 PM
Benjamin 01 May 03 - 10:43 PM
Mark Cohen 01 May 03 - 11:38 PM
Mark Cohen 01 May 03 - 11:50 PM
Frankham 02 May 03 - 06:25 PM
treewind 02 May 03 - 07:14 PM
Mark Cohen 03 May 03 - 01:06 AM
*daylia* 03 May 03 - 12:00 PM
Benjamin 03 May 03 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,leeneia 03 May 03 - 11:20 PM
*daylia* 04 May 03 - 10:19 AM
Frankham 04 May 03 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,leeneia 05 May 03 - 12:32 AM
GUEST,stanleypon 19 Nov 20 - 09:14 AM
Jack Campin 19 Nov 20 - 04:59 PM
leeneia 20 Nov 20 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Jerry 20 Nov 20 - 04:51 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 20 Nov 20 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,Jerry 20 Nov 20 - 07:38 PM
Richard Mellish 21 Nov 20 - 07:11 AM
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Subject: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 05:29 AM

The other day a whistle player suggested he play something on his D whistle. The tune (Drunken Sailor) is a minor. D is two sharps. So is B minor (the relative minor of D). So I thought it would be in B minor on the guitar. It wasn't. It was in E minor. Why?


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 05:32 AM

Because it's a Dorian tune


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 06:07 AM

It's quite possible to play sharps and flats on a whistle. Most players will use a D whistle to play in the key of D or G - otherwise they'd have to change whistles every time the key changed. Your whistle player was therefore playing in the relative minor of G which is Em.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: belfast
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 06:27 AM

To expand a little on the second posting back there. The dorian mode is more or less them same as the minor scale except that the sixth note of the scale is not flattened. So a dorian mode tune on a D whistle will have E as its keynote. And as far as any accompnying gutarist is concerned it is in E minor.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 07:33 AM

Dave is correct. Make sure your friend's whistle really is a D whistle. I've known players who don't know a crotchet from a hatchet and just assume their whistle is cut in a certain key because that is the key they're playing in and vice versa. 'I'm playing in D because there is a sticker on my whistle which says so'


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Grab
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 08:10 AM

Because the key is the key of the tune! Just because the bottom string on my guitar is E, it doesn't mean that I can only play tunes in E...

Having C and D whistles are the equivalent of a capo. IIRC, tunes played on a C whistle are actually in a key one tone below that written. This may be more convenient for playing certain keys (eg. F), or a whistle player may just do it to get a different tone in the same way a guitarist would change tunings.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,Rag
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 08:11 AM

Interesting stuff these modes.

Another way of thinking about them is to start with a major scale such as D. If you go from the second note up to the second note (E to E) then that's the Dorian mode of D. It sounds like an E minor but isn't quite because it has a C# in it - that doesn't matter much because the E minor chord will work (E, G, B).

If you start and end on the sixth note, you'll get the relative minor scale, B minor.

Starting on different notes of the scale give you different modes and a different feel.

With a Dorian mode tune in D (E - E) you might find chords D, C, G and Em work well. The B minor tune on the other hand might feel better with Bm, Em, A and D. It's good fun to cross them as well because it creates a sort of ambiguity.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 08:34 AM

It is, at least in theory, possible to play in any key on any whistle. You don't see that very often mind you.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:18 AM

"Another way of thinking about them is to start with a major scale such as D. If you go from the second note up to the second note (E to E) then that's the Dorian mode of D. It sounds like an E minor but isn't quite because it has a C# in it - that doesn't matter much because the E minor chord will work (E, G, B)."

This is something that's always confused me about modes. When I was taught them, they were explained as above. Later, it was clarified (whether correctly or not -- that's the point of my inquiry here) That, though the above correlation between the Key of D and the Dorian mode described above is that they contain the same notes, that, in fact, the dorian scale from E to E is the E dorian scale (not the D dorian scale as asserted above).

Eh?


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Frankham
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:23 AM

Actually, Drunken Sailor is Aeolian, not Dorian. It follows a chord progression of i minor to bVII or v minor. It's more convenient to play in in E minor on a D whistle. Here's the reason. Eminor would be the i minor chord and the flat seventh would be D major. The regular or (natural) seventh of the e minor scale would be D#. You would flatten the D# to D to get the flatted seventh. So the song is built on the Aeolian scale of E minor which would be E,F#,G,A,B,C,D,E.
The C# doesn't appear in the melody so it means that the song is Aeolian. The chord progression for the Dorian mode would have to emphasize the C# therefore an A major chord or an F# minor chord would have to be in the song.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Mr Red
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:32 AM

Anyone know a comprehensive guide to what is and isn't melodic, harmonic minors and all the Gregorian (seems like a game of chants to me) modality? Must be something that a drummer can follow and preferably web based. I am ok on the maths, and patterns and seeing the order of sequences and arrays.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:43 AM

Frankham,

It is Dorian.

See here


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:45 AM

BTW Richard, was it the other night at the Black Horse ? - if so why didn't you ask me then ?


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:59 AM

"Another way of thinking about them is to start with a major scale such as D. If you go from the second note up to the second note (E to E) then that's the Dorian mode of D. It sounds like an E minor but isn't quite because it has a C# in it - that doesn't matter much because the E minor chord will work (E, G, B)."

This is something that's always confused me about modes. When I was taught them, they were explained as above. Later, it was clarified (whether correctly or not -- that's the point of my inquiry here) That, though the above correlation between the Key of D and the Dorian mode described above is that they contain the same notes, that, in fact, the dorian scale from E to E is the E dorian scale (not the D dorian scale as asserted above).

Eh?


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 01:58 PM

Hi Dave.

No, it was at the Harbourmaster on Friday. We didn't do Drunken Sailor at the Black Horse, and no-one was playing whistle. Good beer there though eh?

As to others above.

Yes, the whistle player is a bit like that, but I suspect that he uses a whistle per key. I've only ever known one whistle player who could play a whistle as a chromatic instrument like a recorder, the half hole fingerings are tricky.

As to the modes, I always thought the way to get the names and pitches was to start with the fact that the modes were all based on the white piano notes so you took the name of the mode, and then moved it the approproate number of demitones so that the start note was the named one - so Mixolydian A would have started on A but had the same intervals as if it had been played on the C scale notes, wherever it starts there.

And have we settled yet whether Drunken sailor is Dorian or Aeolian?


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 02:17 PM

Well I'm sticking with dorian...

Frankham says that in E the C# doesn't appear in the melody. It does.

On the third 'drunken sailor' the notes are B C# D B

Have a look at the relevant section of the essay I linked to above. It should make things clearer (although the article admits that it's not 'strongly' dorian).

In terms of modes in general, the starting note has nothing to do with it. It's the home note (tonic) that the tune resolves to that is the important one. Virtually all folk music ends on the tonic, so the last note of a tune is the one you should be looking at.

The MODES FOR MUDCATTERS thread linked to at the top is also worth a read.

Hope that helps, and feel free to ask any more questions

Ed


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 02:39 PM

If that seems too much reading, I gave a simplified (and possibly simplistic) answer in this thread at folkinfo.org

(Scroll about halfway down - it's a short thread)


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: MAG
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 04:43 PM

A thanks to you all for this theory thread -- I can swivel my stool right around to the little keyboard and figure it out, and I feel a lot smarter. -- MA


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Marje
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 04:57 PM

I think there are a few red herrings here. Ignore all the stuff about modes, it's to do with the range. The fact is simply that the range of many tunes makes it difficult or impossible to play them on a whistle that is in the key of the tune. Drunken sailor is one such tune: you can't play it in Bm on a D whistle because the whistle's lowest note is D and the tune goes down to B. You can't put it all up an octave or you'd run out of notes at the top.

The whistle player would play many ordinary major tunes in G on a D whistle for the same reasons. Any tune that goes below the tonic note(do) won't be playable in D on a D whistle.

You will find that some whistle players can't explain this to you, as they just play instinctively and have never really thought about it, so don't be surprised if you get puzzled looks when you ask them.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 05:39 PM

Ignore all the stuff about modes

Suit yourself...


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Frankham
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 06:11 PM

Mr Ed,

You are right. My mistake.I stand corrected. The B,C#,D,E would make it Dorian.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Frankham
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 06:40 PM

I think it's useful to know about modes but for the purpose of harmonization. There are modal cadences in chord progressions that define the character of a melody. Sometimes it can get confusing since there is a version of Greensleeves that is Aeolian and one that is Dorian. Changing the one note makes a difference. On the whistle,
E,G,A,B,C#,B (Dorian) E,G,A,B,C(natural),B (Aeolian). The selection of chords you use would make the difference and define the mode. The problem is that it can be played with a D# later on in the tune which would knock it out of the Dorian mode (as against a V chord). If it's played with a D natural against a V minor chord, it's pure Dorian or Aeolian.

On Drunken Sailor, the progression i minor to bVII major is used in both Dorian and Aeolian but the bVII becomes less important in a tune that emphasizes the Dorian scale. That sneaky little C# makes it a Dorian tune even though the chord progressions spell out more of an Aeolian flavor.

The question is why bother with modes? Why not just play the notes? In folk music, certain tunes retain an individual character that are modal and to recognize these is a useful musical tool. It helps when you go to harmonize the tune. I think the harmonic implications of the tune are just as important as the tune itself. To emphasize this point it would be helpful for guitar players to play:

E min to A major (and secondarilly D major or b minor) to hear a Dorian cadence. (i minor, IV major and bVII major or v minor)

E min to D major (or b minor) to hear and Aeolian cadence. (i minor to bVII or v minor)

E major to D major (or b minor) to hear a Myxolydian cadence.
(I major to bVII or v minor)

These cadences are implied in Irish music in tunes and songs and are the principle modes for this kind of music with the exception of the major scale or Ionian mode which is the standard E,A,B7 or I,!V,V progression.

This doesn't mean that you would have to exclusively stick to the modal harmonies. You can reharmonize to jazz it up if you like.
For example, you could use Emin, G major and F major7 to emphasize an Aeolian cadence. Many Irish tunes are harmonized this way.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 06:50 PM

There is something a bit odd about this tune--though it is seems to be in a Dorian mode, the melody for the most part, moves in chord arpeggios, which is kind of unusual for modal music(chords and harmonies were not really used until modes were replaced by major/minor keys)--The melody notes start with an Em chord--b-e-g-b,then D major A-D-F#-A), before it finally moves scalewise B-C#-D-E", with "Early in the" being an inverted D6 chord leading to the final E--Unusual element for a tune that is claimed to be (in the link above) an medieval Irish Air--


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 07:55 PM

Whistle is one thing DO know about,and Yes you can play in any key on any whistle,though it does get complcated.One of my'poseur'pieces is
The Lark in the Clear Air,played on(Usually)an ordinary Generation C whistle,in six keys,starting in A and finishing in B flat,the only
octave jumps being the first note of the tune.Marge is correct,some tunes have to be played in the 'other'key to make them fit.That would be G on a D whistle with one flat,the note of concert C.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 05:01 AM

You always were a flash bugger, Terry.

Getting back to the main subject, the talk about modes is a red herring - Drunken Sailor can be played on a guitar using any minor key sequence of chords. The problem was as I stated, the whistle player was merely playing Em the relative minor of G. Many tunes especially polkas (Jennie Lind or Bluebell for example) change key between the sections, and many people play sets where the first tune is in one key and the second in another and a whistle player would play both on the same whistle. The two most common keys for folk tunes (I expect because they fit well on the fiddle) are D and G. Em is probably the most common minor key used. Therefore the whistle player was was playing in a key that they were used to playing using a D whistle.

The key of D/Bm has both the F and C sharpened, G/Em has just the F sharpened. Therefore to play in G/Em on a D whistle only requires the player to flatten the C# to a C natural (I think I got that right).


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,M'Grath of Altcar
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 05:35 AM

Drunken Sailor is Dorian.

Mr. Red. You asked about a guide to modes etc.

Get hold of " The Lydian Chromatic Theory of Tonal Organisation in Improvisation and Arrangement" by George Russell. This is the book which triggered the use of modes in Jazz in the 1950's. Russell is a drummer and though the book is verbose and complex, its ideas are completely relavent to folk music - or any other kind of music for that matter.

I had the whole system hammered into me at college and it has revolutionised my musical thinking evere since.

The George Russell book is expensive (around £50!!) But this is cheap for the benefit you will get out of it. Alternatively, get one of Jamie Aebersold's superb jazz playalong albums. The scale syllabus encompasses modes, altered modes will sort you out and it suits all standards of musician.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 06:23 AM

Folk tunes dont come equipped with harmonies, you have to provide them yourself according to what suits your ears. However, as has been pointed out, the harmonies are remarkably strongly implied in the Drunken Sailor. With a firsst bar conatining only EG and B, and a second bar containing only D F# and A, you'ld have to be pretty avant-garde not to use Em and D chords. The overall harmonic structure of Drunken Sailor
Em ///
D///
Em///
D/Em/
is extremely common in fiddle tunes in the 1700-1900 period, both in Ireland and Britain.Sometimes in the minor(Dorian as here, or Aeolian) also in major (substitute G and D chords say), or the Myxolydian (substitute A and G). You could write a book about tunes with this structure and its possible variations).


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,T-boy
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 07:56 AM

The only way to get really at home with modes in folk music is to get yourself acquainted with the SOUND of the common ones, then you can forget about the theory.

Then you will know, for example, that Drunken Sailor is Dorian and will fit in E on a D-whistle without having to work it out.

There are NO rules to harmonising or accompanying modes - by definition they were melodic. Just play what sounds best. No standard set of chords will be completely within any of the minor modes, but just use discretion and you'll be OK.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: treewind
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 08:43 AM

M.Ted - I don't see anything unusual about dorian mode tunes emphasising the minor chord and the major chord a tone below (E min and D maj in this case) - on the contrary, that particular pairing of implied chords is almost a cliché in Irish and Scottish music. (You get lots of A minor/G major tunes too, same thing)

That said - I fully agree with others that songs and tunes don't "have" chords - you harmonize them how you think fit - and I always grin when I see a posting asking for "the chords" to some song.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 12:56 PM

Anahata,

The point is that the chords are not implied, they are spelled out--of the four phrases in the melody, three are simply horizontal, broken chords, arpeggios, if you will.

I am not saying that the shift from e minor to D major is unusual(as Greg Stephens so rightly points out, the shift is very common in fiddle music of a certain period), all that I am saying is that it is a bit odd to find a melody that is basically arpeggiated chords(which was commonly in "classical" music after about 1700) but that shifts tone centers in a way that is common to modal music, which, as pointed out a number of times above, does not incorporate the idea of chords--

No big thing, anyway just an observation--


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 07:38 PM

Ther is nothing incompatible about modes and chords. Modes refer to the notes of the melody, the chords are the harmonies you put with the melody. You can write a modal tune without any harmonic implications at all (most eastern music, and a lot of archaic British and Irish music); but you can write an equally modal tune(like Drunken Sailor or Soldiers Joy) which is based on arpeggiated chords. both kinds of music are equally modal: one is harmonic, one isnt.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Bearheart
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 08:21 PM

Really enjoying this thread, which explains alot about modes that I had forgotten/didn't know... Especially nice because a firend and I were discussing the subject just yesterday, so I can send this to her and it will make a lot more sense to her now.

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 May 03 - 08:23 PM

And you don't have to play chords that are major or minor anyway.

In many tunes you can use diads that don't include that third note - so instead of it being EAG for E minor, or EAG# for E major, you just play EA; and so forth.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Benjamin
Date: 01 May 03 - 10:43 PM

In this particular case, G major works quite well on a tin wistle, and e is the relative minor of that.
Also, a quick note on Aeolian, it is what now know as the minor scale.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 01 May 03 - 11:38 PM

Well, technically, Benjamin, the Aeolia is what we now know as the Natural minor scale. There's also the Harmonic minor, and the other one, whose name, of course, I've forgotten. (I think it's either Spasmodic or Demented, but I may have it wrong.)

The minor scale once went like this, but people found it hard to sing

And so they raised the seventh note, a higher leading tone to bring

And then they made it go like this, it's easy now as anything


I remember that from my piano lessons at age 7. (I also seem to remember that the Spasmodic minor, or whatever it is, has a sharped sixth and seventh going up, but a natural sixth and seventh coming down. I never figured out how that was possible, outside of Hanon.)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 01 May 03 - 11:50 PM

By the way, Frank, thanks so much for your discussion. I've recently started learning to play backup guitar for Irish tunes, and I think you've just given me the key to understanding what I've so far been doing more or less by rote.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Frankham
Date: 02 May 03 - 06:25 PM

In the history of music, there are harmonic implications to Irish or Westernized traditional melodies. They may not be apparent at first but they are there. There are suggestions for basic harmonization built into the tunes but there is no restriction for re-harmonizing.
There is no restrictions for anything for that matter and if you want to play Greensleeves with a boogie-woogie bass you can do that. The question becomes one of taste.

Thanks Mark, I'm sure these concepts of harmony are pretty well known and assimilated without having to think about them too much.

The idea of selecting chords to play to a tune (any tune) is pretty individualistic and jazz musicians have been known to come close to blows over such things as the "right" chord changes or rhythmic tempos. I think that in the interest of knowing about the musical form that is being performed, there are certain restrictions that must be made harmonically for it to sound pleasing to most ears.

I think that here consensus rules in the musical world amoung musicians and in the public acceptance of such things. You could conceivable harmonize Drunken Sailor for example starting with an Fa major seventh as a substitute for the A minor chord which would sound kinda' jazzy. Irish bands have used that progression...F maj 7,to G back to A minor as accompaniment for modal "chunes".

You could justify the following progression for Drunken Sailor...F major 7 in place of A minor, E minor 7th in place of G major, then you could go to a D minor seventh, winding up with a G chord back to an A minor. You could even end up with a Picardie Third, an A major chord. All these chords might be out of character for the feeling a a sea chantey but would work in a symphonic orchestration of the work. I guess the point here is what is in the appropriate taste for the song? Some would say no chords at all but I think that's a pretty narrow view.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: treewind
Date: 02 May 03 - 07:14 PM

melodic minor is the one that goes up sharp and comes down natural.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 03 May 03 - 01:06 AM

Aha, Anahata, Arigato!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: *daylia*
Date: 03 May 03 - 12:00 PM

Spasmodic minor -- LOL!! :>)

"melodic minor is the one that goes up sharp and comes down natural."

True, Anahata, except in flat key signatures. In that case, if the note was flat you raise it using a natural ascending, and lower it by "flattening" it again descending.

Hmmm, "flattened" notes. There's a joke in there somewhere too!


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Benjamin
Date: 03 May 03 - 12:04 PM

Yes Mark, I'm aware of the harmonic and melodic minor scales as well.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 May 03 - 11:20 PM

I believe that the names assigned to various minor scales were poorly chosen and should be revised. Harmonic minor? What does that mean? Melodic? Aren't there plenty of major scales which are melodic? Natural? All of them are natural.

We use "ordinary" and "erotic." The ordinary minor is the one that starts on the sixth note of the major scale and keeps the same notes. The erotic starts on the sixth note and sharpens the seventh. We are considering calling it the belly-dance minor, however.

I believe that the scale which changes when going up or down is used in piano pieces of the Romantic era. It helps explain why music of that era sounds so mushy.

A friend of mine told me that she and her fellow piano majors looked forward to having Romantic pieces in their recitals because in pieces like that nobody can tell where you made a mistake. This tells us something.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: *daylia*
Date: 04 May 03 - 10:19 AM

leeniea, my students call the Harmonic Minor the "Arabian Nights" scale - pretty close to belly-dancing! :>)

It's the augmented 2nd between the 6th and 7th notes, created when the 7th is raised, that gives the scale it's 'exotic' sound, even though it's rarely found in "Middle Eastern" music per se. Composers in the pre-Baroque era began to raise the 7th note of the natural minor scale (the Aeolian mode) because it gives more "pull" to the leading note, as it "leads" back to the tonic, which establishes the tonality much more strongly.

If you look a major scale, you'll notice that it ends with a semitone between the leading note and tonic. If you play it, and stop on the 7th note rather than the tonic, you'll notice how "unresolved" it sounds and feels. That leading note just "NEEDS" to go "home" to the tonic, and the ear remains "unsatisfied" until it does. As the "tension" is resolved on the tonic note, the home key is firmly established for the listener.

Compare this with the natural minor scale now - notice how the unaltered form ends with a whole tone between the leading note and tonic. Play it, stopping on the 7th, and you'll notice that the "pull" to the tonic is much weaker. By raising the leading note, producing a semitone between LN and tonic as in the major scale, the satisfying "pull" of the LN resolving on the tonic firmly established the tonality of the scale is achieved.

Why is it called the Harmonic Form? Because it makes such a important difference to the chords created within the minor key. Raising the 7th note changes the quality of the all-important dominant chord from minor to major, a significant harmonic difference! Again, the increased "pull" of the leading note to tonic as the altered V chord resolves on I (ie. the vital V-I progression, or perfect cadence), establishes the key much more firmly. Without the raised 7th, the V-I progression moves from a minor chord to another minor chord, much less effective than major to minor for establishing tonality. There's more information about it at this link.

The natural form of the minor is called "natural" because no notes are altered - it's the original Aeolian mode, the major scale starting on the 6th note.

Why the "melodic" form of the minor scale? Because raising the LN to lend emphasis to the tonic, as in the harmonic form, creates that awkward interval of an augmented 2nd between the 6th and 7th notes. "The interval between the sixth and seventh degrees of the scale is now a tone and a half which is uncomfortably wide when writing melody. It would be better if we could widen the interval between the fifth and sixth degrees, from a semitone to a tone, and narrow the interval between the sixth and seventh degrees, to a tone." By raising the 6th note as well, melodies are "smoother" and easier to play/sing. More information at this link.

As far as I know, both altered forms of the minor scale were well established centuries before the Romantic era. The works of JS Bach abound with examples of the melodic minor scale!

And as a piano teacher, I must add that it's just as easy to hear "wrong notes" in Romantic piano pieces like Chopin Waltzes as it is in classical pieces like Beethoven Sonatas. Where I find it more difficult is in 20th century atonal/polytonal works. Unless you know them very well, they all sound like "wrong notes" to me!!

daylia


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Frankham
Date: 04 May 03 - 12:25 PM

The reason it's called a harmonic minor is that the seventh note is altered from the natural minor scale to fit the dominant seventh chord. Ie: In A minor, E7 has a G#. It's the seventh note of of minor scale.
To extend on what Daylia is saying........................................

Melodic minor is named because there is a melodic sweep in the ascending 6th and 7th degrees of the scale. This is culturally associated a great deal with Russian music. Also, there are harmonic implications in the use of the scale. Ascending it would be harmonized with i min, !V major, V or V7 and a bVI major. Descending it would use the harmonies associated with the natural minor or Aeolian mode. It's different in in harmonization of the Dorian mode since V or V7 would be used instead of v minor or bVII major.

The natural minor just uses the unaltered notes of a relative major scale. Ie: A minor scale uses the same notes as the relative major scale of C major without any alterations (sharps or flats).

The last part of the harmonic minor scale with the minor third skip between the 6 and 7 degree of the scale has an exotic sound that is associated with variations of the Phrygian mode which duplicates that sound using the following.....1, b2, 3,4,5,b6,7,8 (This is a so-called oriental scale used in mid-eastern, Sephardic, Spanish, Slavic and Balkan music.) I maintain that this is a variation of the Phrygian mode because of the relationship of the first two notes having the minor third skip.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 May 03 - 12:32 AM

No soap. Our band is sticking with "ordinary" and "belly-dance."


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,stanleypon
Date: 19 Nov 20 - 09:14 AM

Here is a Complete Guide for Key Signatures
https://www.piano-composer-teacher-london.co.uk/post/a-complete-guide-on-key-signatures


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Nov 20 - 04:59 PM

Much more detailed and much more folk-oriented:

My modes tutorial

It's by far the most systematic presentation of modes on the web, with hundreds of examples. BUT I'm not all that happy with it and have rewritten it to be about 4 times the size. Problem is I have no way to upload that at present.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Nov 20 - 12:00 PM

Some years ago I went to early-music workshops taught by professionals - symphony orchestra level people. They gave me a print-out of the modes in order. Here they are:


1. Ionian
2. Dorian
3. Phrygian
4. Lydian
5. Mixolydian
6. Aeolian
7. Locrian

Example: to do a song in the Lydian mode, start on the 4th note of a scale. During the course of the song, let the 4th note be prominent, in the form of long notes, highest notes or lowest notes. End on the 4th note. You can see how this system might help some helpless monk with little education cope with a huge amount of church music.

In my experience, Ionian is the everyday major scale, Dorian is interesting, and Aeolian is the ordinary minor. Locrian is probably mythical, and the others are nothing special. I have a friend who is a professional pianist, and she's told me she learned about the modes in college and hasn't given them a thought since - 40 years.

Modern songs which start out modal almost always wind up having the last note be the first note of the scale. (The congregation likes to know what's going on.)

I made up a silly sentence to remember the order:

Iona & Dora prefer Lydia's mixed aioli lox.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 20 Nov 20 - 04:51 PM

Err ....nothing special? The mixolydian is the foundation of the blues and derived forms like rock, rock and roll, metal, plus some bluegrass, etc, the Phrygian is widely used in flamenco, the Dorian in Irish and Celtic tunes, whilst others are used in jazz. Then there’s Greek music of course....


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 20 Nov 20 - 05:51 PM

I just think of the white notes on the piano. Starting on a different note and going up the white notes gives a different mode. This gives the easiest way of decyphering them for me.

I don't play from dots so "augmented seventh" does not mean a lot to me.

Some modes are rarely come across, but they all have their uses.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 20 Nov 20 - 07:38 PM

Each to their own, but I find it’s best to learn the semitone intervals that make up the standard Ionian major scale, and then how those intervals vary slightly in each mode.
On a fretted instrument the Standard major ascends any open string by 2 frets, then another 2, then 1, then 2, then 2, then 2, then 1. Whereas the Mixolydian ascends by 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 Nov 20 - 07:11 AM

This may or may not help. Feel free to ignore.

The order set out by leeneia applies if you stick to the white notes and start first on C, then on D, E, etc.

I think of the modes in a different order:
Ionian: white notes starting on C.
Mixolydian: flatten the seventh note of the scale, so start on C and flatten the B OR start on G and use F natural instead of F sharp.
Dorian: flatten the third and seventh notes of the scale, so start on C and flatten the E and the B OR start on D and use F natural and C natural.
Aeolian: flatten the third, sixth and seventh notes of the scale, so start on C and flatten the E, the A and the B OR start on A and use C natural, F natural and G natural.

Those four modes are all reasonably common in tunes from the British Isles, and there are some hexatonic tunes that leave out one note.

The other modes are very rare.
Phrygian with a flattened second, so D flat if starting on C, or F natural if starting on E.
Locrian (all the white notes starting on B) has a flattened second but also a flattened fifth, which means you've changed the next most important note of the scale after the tonic.
Lydian has a sharp fourth, F sharp if you start on C, or all the white notes starting on F, so you've lost another important note.

Then of course there are some modes from other parts of the world that don't stick to two tones, one semitone, three tones, one semitone. So for example you might have a tune with E flat and F sharp, giving a three-semitone interval.

I play one Swedish tune that is in G-minorish with the F always sharp, the B always flat and the C sometimes natural and sometimes sharp.

If you are not yet confused, you are not yet informed.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 21 Nov 20 - 12:30 PM

Leeneia ~ thanks for a great mnemonic,
Dennis


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 22 Nov 20 - 04:59 AM

The trouble though with the common piano white notes explanation is that not everyone has got a piano, or even an understanding of what notes they are actually playing if they tend to play an instrument by ear. Plus you can get locked into the idea that to play in Dorian you must play in the key of D, Mixolydian in the key of. G, etc. when in reality of course you can use the modes in any of the standard twelve keys (G, G#, A, etc), and will need to do so if you venture into playing solos on guitar, etc.
.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: leeneia
Date: 22 Nov 20 - 11:04 AM

You're welcome, Dr. Word.
================
The modes were probably developed in an attempt to help people learn music, but they don't seem to be much help. I suppose the idea was to convey the general sound of a piece, but to an amateur that's not much help. To understand the modes, you need to understand keys, and if you understand keys you don't need the modes.

The modes have become mere curiosities for us early-music & trad fans who get a little thrill when we spot one. Meanwhile, our folkie friends are playing the music without giving modes a thought.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: G-Force
Date: 22 Nov 20 - 11:40 AM

Whereas the Mixolydian ascends by 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2.

Actually, that's the Dorian.


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Subject: RE: Relative Minor Key signatures?
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 22 Nov 20 - 12:21 PM

Ooopps....I wonder who’d be the first to spot that.
The Mixolydian should be (from the nut to the twelve fret):
0+2+2+1+2+2+1+2.

I can accept you don’t need to worry about modes if you’re only going sing or play simple tunes in our standard major and natural minor (Ionian and Aeolian), and there is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to explore any of Early English, Irish and Celtic, Old Timey American, Bluegrass, Klezmer, Flamenco, Rock, Blues, Jazz solos, etc, it helps to have some appreciation of the different modes you will encounter, to my mind, though I guess some might see it as intellectual snobbery.


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