Questions tagged [modes]

For questions concerning the musical modes. These can include historical views of mode by the Greeks or the various rotations of scale collections. Questions about historical views of mode should also include the history tag.

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60
votes
22answers
123k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.
43
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5answers
9k views

When were the terms “Major” and “Minor” applied to keys?

In 1547, Heinrich Glarean published Dodecachordon in which he posited that in addition to the 4 existing pairs of church modes (plagal and authentic versions of modes with finals on D (Dorian), E (...
42
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9answers
19k views

Key signature for writing in modes other than major and minor

I have trouble deciding what accidentals to put in the key signature for pieces in Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian or Mixolydian modes. There seem to be trade-offs associated with each choice. For example, ...
41
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10answers
20k views

What are modes and how are they useful?

I'm a self-taught guitarist with zero to little experience in music theory. After marrying a violinist I found that there's a lot to music theory that I know tribally but don't understand the ...
29
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8answers
15k views

Understanding minor key harmony

A comment discussion under this question from me, clued me in to the fact that I don't really understand how minor keys work very well. So here is what I think I know The natural minor comes from the ...
27
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7answers
32k views

Why does the Dorian mode on C have two flats?

I'm studying scale modes and I just found on Wikipedia that the Dorian mode on C has two flats... Why is this? Because the Dorian mode is just the major scale (Ionian) starting from the second note, ...
24
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3answers
12k views

What are the greek modes, and how do they differ from modern modes?

This Question might be TwoFold, based on an uncertainty I have I understand the construction of traditional Ionian-Locrian modes, and I have read that various notes in the modes have traditionally ...
23
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8answers
18k views

Is F Lydian mode in the “key” of C Major?

In most cases (if not all), a piece of music without sharps or flats in the key signature, would be considered in the key of C major or A minor. This question assumes the context of Western Music ...
23
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6answers
25k views

Why is the aeolian mode the minor scale?

I've studied music theory for many years now, and one thing has always confused me about the naming methodology for the minor scale. A major scale is based off the Ionian mode and consist of only ...
22
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2answers
712 views

Is this piece of renaissance music really in the locrian mode?

A fifteenth-century dance manual contains this piece of music: which appears to be (uncharacteristically) in the locrian mode. Is it really, or am I mis-reading? Does anybody know of other music ...
19
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7answers
4k views

How to know if it's a mode or scale?

How do I differentiate between modes? Suppose a person is playing "D Dorian". How do I know that it's "D Dorian" and not "C Major/Ionian" or "E Phrygian" and so on, and in fact "A natural minor" ...
18
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11answers
3k views

What are modes in the real world?

For months, I have been trying to understand modes. Even though I have memorized all the names, what notes they start from and so on, I do not understand their meaning in the real world of music ...
17
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6answers
3k views

Harmony in Phrygian : What chords are tonic, subdominant, and dominant?

Phrygian is a very distinct sounding mode. I've been trying to better understand the harmony of the mode so I can use it more. Obviously the i chord is a tonic chord and iv is a subdominant chord, but ...
17
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4answers
20k views

Different modes of pentatonic scale

Just as there are seven modes of the diatonic scale, I would expect five modes of the pentatonic scale. Have these been classified? Here they are, in the form of {semitone interval gaps} (Notes for ...
17
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4answers
4k views

What is an atonal mode?

I got an album by Ornette Coleman and Pat Methany, "X", and on the linear notes it talks about atonal experiments within the song structures. Are there scales and chord progressions that go along with ...
16
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6answers
2k views

What does it mean to play in a mode?

So here's what I know about modes: Let's say we're in the key of C major. If you're just improvising in the key of C, you would say you're using the C Ionian mode, right? But here's where I get ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Locrian Harmony

I like utilizing modes in my the pieces I write, but there is one mode I've never been able to fully grasp and utilize and that is the Locrian mode. The chords that naturally occur in the Locrian ...
15
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3answers
3k views

Why did Beethoven include “in the Lydian Mode” in the title of String Quartet, Op.132 - 3?

Beethoven himself gave a title to String Quartet No.15 in A minor, Op.132 - 3: A Convalescent's Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Divinity, in the Lydian Mode From the language and context, and ...
15
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5answers
2k views

Do different modes have the same cadence structure?

In major and minor keys, the perfect cadence is V to I Will this structure remain the same in a different mode? I.e. E Phrygian Mode in the key of C (E F G A B C D), the tonic chord is the iii of ...
14
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5answers
49k views

What is the purpose of the mixolydian scale? [duplicate]

For example: the G-Mixolydian is G-A-B-C-D-E-F (rather than G-A-B-C-D-E-F#). Why not just call it C? thanks
13
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3answers
9k views

What is a parallel mode?

What is a parallel mode? How are the parallel modes used in composition and/or improvisation?
13
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3answers
968 views

Do Neapolitan chords exist in modes with a minor second?

In relation to a question I asked earlier—What is a Neapolitan 6th chord—I have a follow up question. A Neapolitan chord is pretty much a Major chord built on the lowered second scale ...
13
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3answers
22k views

Using the Dorian Mode

I've been composing for years but know very little about modes, just stuck to major and minor. If I took a chord progression from Cmajor, ie I - IV - V - I which would be C,F,G,C and then switched ...
12
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4answers
6k views

Is the tritone (A4 / d5 / DA3 / Dd6) still banned in Roman Catholic music?

The tritone is one of the most dissonant intervals in music. It is also known as the "Augmented 4th", "Diminished 5th", "Doubly Augmented 3rd" or "Doubly Diminished 6th", and it is composed of three ...
12
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3answers
2k views

How to make C lydian not sound like G ionian?

What are some concrete melodic and harmonic tools to establish the correct tonic center in a lydian melody? The reason for asking about lydian specifically is that there is no minor seventh for the ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Why do we need modes?

We don't play scales, we play music. The notes we play and the order is based on sound and emotion. Then why is it that if the notes are the same for all of the derived modes, why do we need modes? ...
11
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4answers
7k views

Do modes exist in the harmonic / melodic minor scales?

I'm trying to get my head around modes and the tonal center. In my understanding the natural minor scale is the same as the Aeolian mode. However, when considering the mix-up that happens in the ...
11
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3answers
1k views

How to establish a mode?

I would like to learn about the art of establishing a mode. For example, how to make A minor sound like A minor instead of C major.
11
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5answers
2k views

Do songs written in certain modes not have keys?

Up until recently I thought that if a song was written in a mode with a major 3rd, then it was in a major key, and if it was in a mode with a minor 3rd, then it was in a minor key. But I read an ...
11
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4answers
2k views

Raised leading tones in Phrygian mode counterpoint

In most cases the penultimate note of the counterpoint will be the leading tone, which must be raised in minor to establish a sense of tonality. But why is the leading tone in the Phrygian mode (E-...
10
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8answers
22k views

What is a good solo to learn in the Dorian mode?

I understand that Dorian is a commonly used mode in rock. I am starting to play / improvise in the mode and would like to learn some guitar solos that are good examples of this scale so that I see how ...
10
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6answers
3k views

Incorporating modes in solos

I have been playing and improvising quite happily for many years on a few different instruments but can't seem to get my head around incorporating modes into my day-to-day playing. I am from a blues /...
10
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4answers
8k views

How did the plagal modes differ from their authentic counterpart in practice?

In the traditional modal system there were eight modes. Four that were authentic and four were plagal. These modes are depicted below: Based on the description of the modes the final note of the ...
10
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2answers
5k views

Using modes and static harmony

Edit: i know what modes are and how they are related to major scale..etc. question is about modal harmony and chord progression in modal harmony. not what is a mode and name of other modes..etc What ...
10
votes
3answers
788 views

Why does Fux use F# in his counterpoint to a firmus written in G mixolydian

In the given image below, Fux writes a counterpoint to a cantus firmus given to him as part of his studies by his fictitious teacher Aloysious. A rule that is often emphasised is that one should ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

If there are no diminished keys, then why does Locrian mode exist?

A diminished chord can't work as a tonic due to its dissonance. If then, why does Locrian mode even exist? It's confusing!
9
votes
5answers
1k views

What's the value of modes?

Let's say we have a progression where all of the chords fit within traditional diatonic harmony. Maybe something like this: | E♭Maj♯11 | Cmin7 | F7 | B♭Maj | All of these chords fit ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

What mode consists of the note G A Bb C Db E F G?

I was playing random scales . I came to a strange nice sounding mode,but could not find out what it's name theoretically. (Even I could not find a tonic sounding in it) The scale/mode notes are : G ...
9
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6answers
48k views

When to use different scales or modes over chord progressions?

I know my major/pentatonic/blues scales pretty well, and I can apply it pretty fluently when playing over 1-4-5-min6 chord progressions, but I find that when I try to improvise over more "non-standard"...
9
votes
1answer
612 views

Scales in modal versus tonal music

When tonal music replaced modal music, why were 6 of the 8 scales (modes) used in modal music abandoned in favor of only two, major and minor? Superficially this would look like a reduction in the ...
9
votes
2answers
289 views

Do people who don't study modes improvise the same as those who do?

Reading/watching interviews with some noted jazz/rock musicians (e.g., Jimmy Bruno), when asked about modes they will disavow themselves of bothering to study modes because doing so is, to their way ...
8
votes
3answers
745 views

What other scales can be played over ii chord in ii-V-I besides Dorian?

Soloing over ii-V-I is usually associated with modes. Dorian-Myxolydian-Ionian. I'm trying to expand my soloing by playing "outside", so I wanted to find out what other scales can be played over ...
8
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5answers
1k views

Can you help me understand Modes from the aspect of chord changes?

I am 70 years old, have played (strummed) guitar all my life, with some multi-year gaps. I never wanted to know theory; was more interested in the occasional surprise of learning something new. I ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there such a thing as “key of E Mixolydian”?

I was reading an article Steve Vai wrote in the 80's where he says - "In the key of E Mixolydian, you can use this fingering in the open, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th positions." I thought that when ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What do we call a chord progression that doesn't have a tonic chord?

I came up with a chord progression the other day: Fm7 Ebmaj7 Abmaj7 G7 It's clearly in C minor. But instead of resolving to Cm, I was looping through it. What catched my attention was that it ...
8
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2answers
4k views

Cadences for Modes

For each of the modes, is there a certain chord that goes before the targeted I or i chord? For instance, it seems in the Phrygian mode that II to i is a quite strong progression. In Ionian, obviously ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are Ionian and Aeolian considered Major and Minor keys respectively, but not the other modes? [duplicate]

Why is the Ionian mode called a major key, and the Aeolian mode called a minor key, while the other modes aren't called "Keys"? F Major is relative to D Minor, and just so G Dorian is relative to ...
8
votes
1answer
888 views

Practicing modes on the piano

This has probably been asked a lot here but I can't seem to find the question, sorry if I'm repeating it. I know the definitions of the different modes I just want to incorporate them, being able to ...
8
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2answers
850 views

How much of classical Arabic maqam music is improvised?

I am listening to a piece of music sung in maqam bayat (or bayati). It's Psalm 126, which is 7 verses long, but the piece takes about 10 minutes and sounds very improvisatory. This is similar to ...
7
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9answers
3k views

Why are there just 7 modes?

Let's take a look at Ionian mode. Its pattern is "WWHWWWH". Which there are 7 steps. If we consider this mode building problem as a permutation problem then we can arrenge them into 7!/(2!*5!)=21 ...

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