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so is each mode a minor/major (opposite of what it naturally is) when played in one particular key in the staff?

if that doesn't make sense can you please explain what is going on in the scale degree names chart on this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degree_(music) ?

edit: column 3 tells us which mode can be played entirely in the corresponding key using only the diatonic scale, only the staff positions (this is how i see it). But i thought that a certain mode is either major or minor or just a different type. for eg: up until now i came across Ionian mode as the major & the Aeolian mode as the natural minor.

so my question is: what is the column 4th for(the 3rd column has a relation as stated above. what relation does the 4th one have?)? Is it that eventhough Ionian is a major scale, it sounds minor when compared to Phrygian mode(which has a reason of being there).

so: 1) what is Ionian doing next to Phrygian there? 2) what makes it a minor?

2

I associate the scale degree names with solfege which I associate with the major scale first and then the minor scale as an alteration of major.

If someone says "dominant", I think solfege "sol." If someone says say "mediant", I think "mi" and if they then say "wait, I'm in minor" then I think "ma!"

I'm not thinking about modes when a scale degree is named.

I also associate scale degrees to certain chords. For example I associate the mediant with the tonic I chord. I associate the leading tone with the dominant V chord. Some degrees have multiple associations like the subdominant which can be used in the ii, IV, V and many other chords.

I don't associate scale degrees with modes in the way the chart suggests.

I don't find the "corresponding mode" columns on that wiki page to be helpful for anything.

If I am in a major key and play a scale from the supertonic up the octave to the higher supertonic I don't consider this to be playing the Dorian mode. It really depends on the idea that I'm in a major key. If I was playing in C major, and played the scale from D up the octave to D it doesn't make much useful sense to think about it as playing a D Dorian scale. Simply put, I'm not in Dorian, I'm in C major. I could be playing that scale over a ii6 or V6 chord (or many others), but the tonal context is C major not D Dorian.

It is technically true that the various permutations of the major scale give us various modes. So, the 2nd mode of the major scale is D Dorian, the 3rd mode is E Phrygian, etc. But so what? How does that information help us understand music in the major/mnior system. I don't think it helps.

But, there are ways in which I do associate scale degrees with modes and that is by alteration of scale degrees.

An easy example is the supertonic. When that degree is lowered by a half step (a fairly common thing in minor key music) it is associated with the Phygian mode. The reason is this: when you have the basic natural minor scale and then lower the second scale degree it produces the Phygian scale. Ex. C minor C D Eb F G Ab Bb C, lower the supertonic and we have C Phrygian C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C. This kind of alteration happens with a Neapolitan chord which leads to V and in context makes the minor key music temporarily take on the flavor of the Phrygian mode.

Compare what I described above with the wiki page and what it lists about the supertonic and the modes. That chart tries to have you associate Phrygian with the dominant scale degree in minor key music. That isn't a helpful association in minor key music. It's more like a technical coincidence, but the handling of the dominant chord in minor key music will commonly not create the feeling of the Phrygian mode.

Beginners are often told about the modes of the major scale. Unfortunately that doesn't really explain much about function in the major/minor system. Alteration of scale degrees in the major/minor keys produces modes in a much more functional way.


EDIT

...what is Ionian doing next to Phrygian there?

enter image description here

Column 3

What this is trying to tell you is: the third scale degree is the starting point for the third mode of the major scale, and this third mode of the major scale is the Phrygian mode.

In C major:


 mediant
    |
C D E F G A B C (Ionian mode, major scale)
    ^
    third mode (E Phrygian mode) starts here: 
    E F G A B C D E

Column 4

What this is trying to tell you is: the third scale degree is the starting point for the third mode of the minor scale, and this third mode of the minor scale is the Ionian mode.

The part that may not be clear about column 4 is assumes you understand the hypothetical "scale" described by the chart is changed from major to minor for column 4.

In C minor:


 mediant
    |
C D Eb F G Ab Bb C (Aeolian mode, natural minor scale)
    ^
    third mode (Eb Ionian mode) starts here: 
    Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb


The major and minor scales, plus the seven modes, are all just permutations of the diatonic series.

In C major

  • starting on C: Ionian (major scale)
  • starting on D: Dorian
  • starting on E: Phrygian
  • starting on F: Lydian
  • starting on G: Mixolydian
  • starting on A: Aeolian (minor scale)
  • starting on B: Locrian
  • starting on C: Ionian (major scale)

You can permute to any starting note. Nothing changes except the order.

  • starting on A: Aeolian (minor scale)
  • starting on B: Locrian
  • starting on C: Ionian (major scale)
  • starting on D: Dorian
  • starting on E: Phrygian
  • starting on F: Lydian
  • starting on G: Mixolydian
  • starting on A: Aeolian (minor scale)

You can also transpose to another key.

In Db major

  • starting on Db: Ionian (major scale)
  • starting on Eb: Dorian
  • starting on F: Phrygian
  • starting on Gb: Lydian
  • starting on Ab: Mixolydian
  • starting on Bb: Aeolian (minor scale)
  • starting on C: Locrian
  • starting on Db: Ionian (major scale)

All these scale and modes names really represent different starting points along one single diatonic series. They are all just part of one thing.

  • i really appreciate you taking out your time to explain this to me. im afraid you've written something here that i do not understand at this point. im really new. i edited the question. please see if i made it clear this time. – stupr in Apr 9 at 18:47
  • I was afraid my answer rambled on and on. Let me update my answer based on your edit. – Michael Curtis Apr 9 at 19:04
  • thank you. i get the gist of it. – stupr in Apr 9 at 20:02
  • @stuprin. If you aren't up to speed playing all 24 major and minor keys, give yourself time for all this stuff to become clear: key, scale, mode, diatonic, major, minor, intervals, etc. Eventually you will get it all straight. Study these things at the keyboard if you aren't already. – Michael Curtis Apr 9 at 20:40
1

I don't understand the question, but I can explain the chart, which will hopefully answer your question.

Columns 1 and 2 simply list the scale degrees by number and name, respectively, in ascending order.

  • The 1st scale degree is called the tonic,
  • the 2nd scale degree is called the supertonic,
  • the 3rd scale degree is called the mediant, etc.

This is the case in any and all diatonic scales/modes. This is simply a generic numbering/naming system.

Columns 6 and 7 show the note names which would correspond to these scale degrees in the keys of C major and C minor, respectively.

  • C is the tonic of both C major and C minor,
  • D is the supertonic of both C major and C minor,
  • E is the mediant of C major while Eb is the mediant of C minor, etc.

Column 5 gives a brief description of each scale degree's role in the scale.

Columns 3 and 4 seem unnecessary to me, and are probably the source of your confusion. They show which mode starts on each scale degree, in major and minor respectively. So for column 3,

  • the mode starting on the 1st scale degree of the major scale is Ionian (aka the major scale),
  • the mode starting on the 2nd scale degree of the major scale is Dorian,
  • the mode starting on the 3rd scale degree of the major scale is Phrygian, etc

For column 4,

  • the mode starting on the 1st scale degree of the minor scale is Aeolian (aka the natural minor scale),
  • the mode starting on the 2nd scale degree of the minor scale is Locrian,
  • the mode starting on the 3rd scale degree of the minor scale is Ionian, etc.

See how Ionian starts on the 1st degree of the major scale and 3rd degree of the minor scale? To demonstrate this, consider a key signature with no sharps or flats, which is either C major or A minor. The 3rd note in A minor is C. The 6th note in C major (upon which the Aeolian mode begins) is A.

  • I agree that columns 3 and 4 are unnecessary and a source of confusion. – Michael Curtis Apr 9 at 17:46
  • i edited the question. please see if i made it clear this time. – stupr in Apr 9 at 18:47
  • @stupr in My answer already addresses your edits. – ibonyun Apr 9 at 19:26

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