I am learning a song that has a progression that is in A aeolian (or A phrygian) in the verse and then changes to D dorian in the chorus. I notice that the melody phrase ends on C and then A (stable tones in A minor) but then in the chorus the song moves to D dorian and the melody ends on A and then F quickly at the end of the G chord on the words "yeah we do yeah we do". I know melodies don't always end on stable tones but in this case is F a stable tone since the song is now in D dorian?

here is a link to the Video where you can hear the song

  • A Aeolian and D Dorian contain all the same notes, only the 'home' differs. F is the m3 in D Dorian, so will sound stable.
    – Tim
    Feb 12, 2021 at 18:25
  • Thanks Tim. I know they have the same notes but in A aeolian F would sound very unstable so that is why I was asking.
    – user35708
    Feb 12, 2021 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


A aeolian (or A phrygian) in the verse and then changes to D dorian in the chorus...

Yes, the stable tones will change. At the very least, the most stable tone, the tonic, changes.

Keep in mind the difference in your question title and the description in the body. You really need to know both tonic and mode. You would then simply compare what tones are common and whether those tones change in terms of stability.

Stable tones are the tones of the tonic triad. If you rank them it would be tonic, dominant, mediant in decreasing stability. The related topic is tendency tones.

If the tonic doesn't change, but the mode does, then by definition only the modal degrees change and for the most part the stable tones are the same. The tonic and dominant don't change. The mediant would change.

If the change of tonic/mode is by perfect fifth (above or below) or to a relative major or minor key/mode, there will be some overlap in stable tones. Ex. C major and A minor, tones C and E will be stable in both. Or from C minor to G major, G is stable in both.

Nevertheless, even when there is overlap of stable tones, if the tonic changes, the functional role of each tone changes by necessity, because the functions/identities are relative to the tonic. The tone G as a dominant changing to G as a tonic don't function the same way. Theoretically their stability isn't exactly equal.

  • You said "if the tonic changes". How do you know for a fact that the tonic has changed? In coldplays music there is never an authentic cadence so what are the other ways you can tell? In the song I posted the progression is Am C F F and the chorus is Dm Dm Am G. As you can see there is no authentic cadence anywhere there but I do notice that the melody changes to use notes from D dorian in the chorus and the B note was not in the Verse part. Does the move to a chorus containing this note change the tonic to D dorian?
    – user35708
    Feb 13, 2021 at 9:39

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