Bela Bartok rediscovered Modal scales from eastern Europe. Lydian, Phrygian, etc...

What I was wondering was.... was it the first time that these scales were rediscovered and went into mainstream classical music? and did Bela Bartok influenced Jazz music, especially with his modal scales? Miles Davis and Bill Evans comes into my mind in that regard.

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    I know that modern classical musicians that went to America from the hands of Nazis influenced Jazz music greatly. But as of Modal scales, I don't know..
    – Victoria
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 20:14
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    Adam Neely claims many jazz musicians have "great affinity" with Bartók, though he doesn't name anyone in particular: youtube.com/watch?v=YOcvPaFY9UE Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 20:19
  • Oh, this video is so awesome! I'm watching it.
    – Victoria
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 20:23
  • Would arranging or quoting folk songs that use modes count as them going "into mainstream classical music"? If so, then Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams were both arranging English folk songs that use the Dorian mode for concert band within a decade of Bartok's work with Hungarian melodies.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 5:11

2 Answers 2


Jazz musicians in the 50s and 60s were forever searching for new sounds. Trane was known to make use of Slominsky's book.

Given that these modes are simply major scales starting from not the tonic, it is pretty unlikely that musicians in that period would not have started making use of them. Bartok was undoubtably a great, but to credit him with more than the usual amount of influence because of his modal approach seems a bit much. (Stravinsky was also a big influence, Bird is said to have quoted one of his themes in his presence.)

So I would say - no more than other great modern composers.


Bela Bartok was one of the leading composers writing gypsy music, along with Kerler. While jazz is a more modern style of music, most modern composers before jazz would have influenced the new style.

  • It wasn't gypsy music. He didn't like that music. It was the Magyar folk tunes he collected. Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 3:30

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