In Yes' "Close to the Edge" (the song), there's a fast keyboard riff towards the end with the rest of the band playing accompaniment. But what I find odd is how keyboardist Rick Wakeman persistently plays an F♯ whereas the music is in A Aeolian (A minor) at that point in the song.

It's as if the band is combining two modes, Aeolian (on A) and Lydian (on C), or some "new" modified Aeolian mode with a ♮6. (♯♭6?)

Is there a name for this mode? Or is it just a "mashup" of two simultaneous modes?

Even more odd is how Wakeman keeps hitting the F♯ even when the rest of the band plays a D minor chord (15:20 in the "non-video" linked above).

  • 2
    "Is there a name for this mode?" Yes: A Dorian.
    – user39614
    Jun 9, 2018 at 22:08
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    David is correct here. The only caveat I would add would be if the F# is constantly moving to other versions of F then you could classify it as “modal mixture”. Jun 11, 2018 at 11:35
  • @DavidBowling - if I didn't identify A Dorian, it's because I was "thrown off" by the d minor chord appearing, and besides the accompaniment seems to imply a pure A minor (Aeolian) mode. But you do have a good point. Care to expand it into an answer?
    – pr1268
    Jun 11, 2018 at 16:07
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    Can't a guy get creative without thinking about modes? Maybe it sounded good and he went with it. Sometimes musicians just play what sounds appropriate at the time.
    – r lo
    Jun 13, 2018 at 15:57
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    The B and F# are hit so hard and repeatedly in the solo that it sounds a lot to me like he is thinking and playing B phrygian over the A octaves in the bass. This seems to me to be a valid example of using competing tone centers to create some great tension! Notice how strongly Wakeman comes back to repeated B's at 15:32. This treatment does a lot to make the ear think that B is a competing tone center. He and Chris Squire are really duking it out here. r lo has a good point, but I do think Wakeman decided to go "Spanish" here against the bass A. Jun 16, 2018 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


I think that mode at that point is A Aeolian. Rickman is playing the F# possibly because he likes the tension it creates with the Dm.

  • 2
    Yeah, this is the answer. Don't get caught up confusing deliberate efforts to create dissonance with a change in the key center. What's happening here is analogous to the 7#9 chord, albeit notably more dissonant and less common.
    – Fugu
    Jun 14, 2018 at 18:15

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