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48

'Dorian mode on C' does not mean "the Dorian scale that you can find among the notes that are available in the major key of C"! 'Dorian mode on C' refers to the Dorian scale, or set of note intervals, that start on the note C, i.e. C is its root or tonic. This set of notes happens to be the same as the ones found in the Bb major key, thus two flats. This is ...


37

I don't know that there is any evidence that the tritone was ever formally banned by the Catholic Church, although that story does get passed around a lot. An actual Church document that discusses this and puts the claim in context is needed. I see no mention of tritones or intervals of any type in Musicam Sacram of 1967. The Sacrosanctum Concilium of 1963, ...


35

A "scale", technically defined, is a sequence of ascending or descending "unit pitches" that form a palette of notes that can be used to form a melody. Most scales in Western music conform to a particular "key"; that is, a sequence of notes that will be "sharp" or "flat" by default. Not all scales have keys; the chromatic scale is a scale of all possible ...


28

This is an excellent and important question. In a minor key, all 4 possible combinations of 6th and 7th scale degree are used, and each combination corresponds to a scale: b6, b7: natural minor (aeolian) b6, 7: harmonic minor (creates a dominant V chord with a leading tone to the root of the key, so it was 'invented' for harmonic reasons) 6, 7: melodic ...


28

No. A key* is not just a set of notes, it tells you the tonal center** of a piece and the expected harmony and melody of the piece. If that was the case we wouldn't even distinguish between major and minor as they have the same set of notes as do all 7 modes of the diatonic scale. How you use your harmony and melody will define the key and tonal center by ...


24

The minor scale is not called the "minor scale" because it is the most minor. Names don't have to accurately reflect the definition. Modes are sometimes classified as "minor" or "major" depending on their third (a minor third usually comes with other minor degrees like the flat 7th which is common to all minor modes of the major scale). And of all the minor ...


23

Modes are what we call rotations of the major scale. This means that we can start off with the major-scale interval pattern and just rotate it to begin at different places to create the other modes. WWHWWWH Ionian (equivalent to the major scale) WHWWWHW Dorian HWWWHWW Phrygian WWWHWWH Lydian WWHWWHW ...


22

The Locrian mode does not need any reason to exist, it simply does. It would seem stranger that we would give names to all of the other note collections built from the degrees of the Major scale, yet leave the seventh degree out. The confusion here seems to be one about functional harmony. The idea of a tonic is part of functional harmony, but the idea of a ...


21

G Mixolydian is a modal scale, more specifically the 5th mode of the major (Ionian) scale. We can't very well call it a "C" scale because (a) G is the tonic, not C and (b) assuming you meant C (Major), it does not have the same interval pattern as a major scale due to the lowered 7th. As far as its purpose, it can serve many. After all, it's an ordered set ...


20

A scale is any sequence of ascending (or descending) notes that can be used as an "organizing structure" for a piece of music. There are many types of scales, including diatonic (the "standard" in Western music), chromatic (containing every half note in an octave), whole-tone (containing notes a whole step apart), and pentatonic (which can be formed by ...


20

Sorry, but I have to chime in after all this time. The answers given here, while accurate, convey none of the most critical distinctions, nor of how modes sound to the ear in a way different from scales. And how things sound is what music is all about. Otherwise you may as well describe the difference between, say, Leonardo Da Vinci and Claude Monet by ...


20

Two modes are parallel if they share the same tonic. That is, D Major, D Minor, D Dorian, and D Mixolydian are all parallel modes. Using a parallel mode will cause a chromatic alteration to your usual key signature. For example, Dorian uses #6 and Phrygian uses b2 (when compared to a minor key or Aeolian mode), while Mixolydian uses b7 and Lydian uses #4 (...


18

I hope no one minds that I got curious, and did a bit of digging into this on my own. I discovered what appears to be an excellent resource answering this very question. The book is entitled Between Modes and Keys: German Theory, 1592-1802 by Joel Lester (1989). I do not have access to a copy of the book, but I've been able to see several relevant portions ...


18

You can't really apply these functional terms to modes. A mode refers to a specific scale and its characteristic melodic phrases. The problem with Phrygian, when you try to build classical harmony on its scale, is in fact constructing the "dominant" harmony, i.e. the triad on the 5. step. It has a diminished fifth (in "White Key Phrygian" on E this would be ...


14

I think some confusion here could be alleviated with a historical perspective. Many of the explanations above talk about present-day relations between the pair of major/minor "scales" and some altered versions of the same notes, reordered, equivalent to "modes" (white notes on the piano = C major scale = A Aeolian mode, D Dorian, etc.). This is doubtless ...


14

There seems to be a general confusion here. Everything you can play or imagine is possible. Theory is a means to describe music, but music is by no way bound to any theory whatsoever. Major scales are typically not a good way to describe (or play) Blues. Better suited are scales that are aptly named "blues scales" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


14

It's important to understand that mode doesn't have to be, and often isn't, an explicit choice. You wrote: The notes we play and the order is based on sound and emotion. and that's true enough, but—if you've mostly written notes from a single western key and are writing in a more or less traditional style—then the way you've used those notes will be in a ...


14

Tritones have been used since Gregorian Chant days. There are several common patterns that outline a tritone and a few instances where a direct tritone is used. The term "Devil's Interval" seems to refer to the difficulty of resolving the interval rather than in forbidding its use. One amusing (if true) use was the direct F to B (I think downward) interval ...


14

My understanding is before 1970, no Jazz players thought about modes. This is incorrect, see this question: How does modal jazz use chord progressions? A: Modes became of interest over time as a way to organize what pitches to use over certain chords and sounds. This is a naturally arising phenomenon when there are many sounds to consider and memorize what ...


13

I am really not knowledgable in ancient music theory so the following might be riddled with errors, but here is what I've gathered. What are the original Greek modes? Ancient Greek music scale theory was built upon the concept of the "tetrachord" - literally meaning four strings. A tetrachord consists of a group of four notes with three smaller intervals ...


13

When you play a C Major scale and have emphasis on a note other than C, such as D, then it is D Dorian. The player implies that the D note is the root using the notes of the C Major scale. Another thing is the harmony behind the scale. What chords are being used? That would direct your ear in hearing where the root is. If I play Dmin7 chord and use the C ...


13

Sure, that kind of modal shifting using the same root relationships is generally quite effective. In your particular example, you might want to raise the 7th scale degree (C to C#) for V and vii chords (much as you might do in minor) in order to get a stronger drive to the i chord, but then you wouldn't strictly be in D Dorian. Either way works but has a ...


13

mode = set of notes + tonic Modes sound different, because each scale degree's distance to the tonic i.e. home note is different. The home note is in a different location relative to the other notes of the scale. The tonic is your zero-point, your viewpoint, where you place your camera: depending on where it is, everything around you is in a relatively ...


13

Try this - play D E F G A and back again. Then play a C major chord (CEG). Does the chord sound like it would fit under the tune? Possibly not. But you've used 5 of the 7 notes that constitute the C major key! What you heard first was a snippet of tune that probably came from D Dorian - a mode from the parent key C. But it sounded minor, and C is major! It ...


12

Theoretically, yes there are five modes that can be derived from the major pentatonic scale and they would be named the same way the other modes contained in the major scale. Let's look at the relative modes instead of parallel as it is slightly easier to see the patter. The C major pentatonic scale consists of the following notes: C, D, E, G, A Like ...


12

It depends on how you define "change the key." Traditionally, modulation is understood as a change in tonic. If you keep tonic (say, C) the same, you don't modulate. Even if it's between C major and C minor, this is not a modulation, but rather just a change in mode. So if by "change the key" you mean "modulate," then it's only a modulation if you move to ...


12

Let's take a step back and look at what a key is first. A key is a very specific concept in music theory. The key tells you what the tonic of a pieces is and the general type of Harmony to expect. A key will never indicated what scales to use which especially in a minor key could look vastly different from the key signature assigned to the key. Since tonal ...


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