i have a question about the modes hopefully someone sees this

if a song follows a chord progression of

verse Bb-Ab-Eb Bb-Ab-Eb

then pre chorus Ab-Eb-Bb // Ab-Eb-Db-Eb

and then the chorus is Bb-Ab-Eb Bb-Ab-Eb

verse 2 (same chords as verse 1) pre chorus 2 (same chords as pre chorus 2)


is it in Bb mixolydian mode or Dorian mode? i thought it was mixolydian until i heard the Db. but then again that Db is only present twice in the whole song.

thoughts? i hope someone can help me with this :) thanks everyone!

  • Dorian surely not. And if it was mixolydian ... how could you explain all the Bb chords? I would not bother a lot about the modes, but if you want to know my opininion, I would say this key is Eb major beginning V-IV with a borrowed chord Db as substitution of the dominant Bb. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 22 '20 at 10:25
  • @AlbrechtHügli - My thought also. – PeterJ Jan 22 '20 at 11:44
  • @AlbrechtHügli thank you! But I would say Bb is the key because it feels like the tonal home of the song. Like, the whole song revolves around it. Eb major doesn’t feel that way at all so it’s pretty confusing to me – newuser Jan 22 '20 at 15:17

Certainly not Dorian. Dorian is a minor mode, having m3. Since there are no minor chords in sight, it cannot be that.

With B♭ E♭ and A♭ chords, it sits quite well to being in key E♭, the D♭ being ♭7, which is not unusual, and could point to E♭ Mixolydian, which would indeed contain a D♭ note. Mixolydian has a 'seventh' sound to it, and the chords may well be 7ths - none here though. E♭ major seems likely. What's the key sig?

  • thank you for your answer at first I thought it could be Eb mixolydian also (the Db could be a 7th chord - I got the chords by ear, and sorry I posted this very late) or just Eb major. but I’d say Bb is the key signature because Bb just feels like the tonal home of the song meanwhile Eb doesn’t. For example when I play Bb at the end of the song it sounds like a perfect ending but that is not the case with Eb. I hope i explained it well – newuser Jan 22 '20 at 15:22

All the chords are Bb, Ab, Eb in that order (which eschews a descending fifth progression, common in rock) ...except the one Db which is just interposed between two Eb chords.

The only thing you can get from that is a likely key signature of three flats with a Db thrown in.

You could label it like a blues turnaround V IV I that would make the tonic Eb and the Db is a bit of Mixolydian color thrown in as a bVII. As Albrecht said bVII can be viewed as a substitution for V (in terms of melody both can harmonize the tone F.)

But we need to know something about the phrasing to really know what is the tonic. Bar lines, harmonic rhythm (that's how long you hold each chord), or the actual melody. If we go with your sense that Bb is the tonic, then it could be labelled like I bVII IV where the Db is a borrowed bIII.

Either way seems OK provided the tonic is identified appropriately. Either analysis brings in some aspect of Mixolydian (a lowered seventh degree in major.)

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