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Don Taylor

Modes And Keys

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I stumbled upon this last night:

 

http://slowplayers.org/modes-keys/#kmintro

 

It is an explanation of modes and keys that has answered a lot of questions that I have.

 

While it is music theory, it is very practical and is aimed at the ear player.

 

Don, I found that one 5-6 weeks ago. Very useful - so much so that I have

cut-and-pasted the essential parts into a PDF document to carry round with

me on my tablet. Highly recommended!

 

Roger

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As a well trained music theory person (you don't want to know... :-) ) I was delighted to see these very different approaches, all of which provide accurate information in different ways. There is so much specious information floating around on this topic. This is not. Thanks to all of you!

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...I was delighted to see these very different approaches, all of which provide accurate information in different ways....

 

Here's another approach - from Chris Ryall who posts on melodeon.net:

 

https://chrisryall.net/modes/

 

I don't think this has been flagged here before?

 

I'm not enough of a musician (yet) to be able to tell if this is immediately relevant to concertina players,

but at least I understood it...

 

Roger Hare

 

PS: The papers by Jack Campin look seriously good. I knew about them, but hadn't got around to looking

at them till prompted by JC's post in this thread - thank you.....

Edited by lachenal74693

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Hope Don is OK with me asking this question here ?

By coincidence we were discussing modes at our English session in Cambridge , Ontario, yesterday and this question arose about the Sportsman's Hornpipe and we were stumped.

I was going to post a question today so here goes.

 

Using this tune as an example, is there straightforward way of figuring which mode you are in ?

In spite of it's key signature it's not in Emin as it starts on a C and ends on an A....but the F# says it's not Amin.....where does that leave us?

Robin

Sportsman's Hornpipe.pdf

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Robin

 

(Caveat emptor - I am learning this stuff too).

 

I think that if it ends on an A and has F#s then it is most likely to be A dorian.

 

The F# in the key signature says that the notes to play are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#. If A is the tonic in this tune then it is the second note in this set of notes and the scale is A, B, C, D, E, F#, G which is A dorian.

 

The thing about the first link that I posted is that it explained to me why the 3 chord trick only really works for a major key.

 

If you look at the key signature for your tune and try to use G, C and D7 then it does not work. For A dorian the chords to try are Am and G (and possibly Em, D and C in decreasing order). I have never seen this explained anywhere else.

 

I came across my original link when I was trying to make sense of the pipe tune 'Mist Covered Mountains' as played here:

 

https://youtu.be/o6M3goK1Qp0

 

He plays F#s and the chords are Am, Em and G which did not make sense to me in Em or G, but it sounds right. It turns out that it is in A dorian.

Edited by Don Taylor

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Using this tune as an example, is there straightforward way of figuring which mode you are in ?

In spite of it's key signature it's not in Emin as it starts on a C and ends on an A....but the F# says it's not Amin.....where does that leave us?

Robin

Here's my quick way of doing it.

 

1) The tonic/home note is obviously A so it must be in A something.

2) It sounds minor and in fact has a minor third (ABC).

3) So it must be either aeolian or dorian.

4) Aeolian is A without sharps or flats - ABCDEFGA. One semitone between 5th and 6th notes (EF). A for aeolian.

5) Dorian is D without sharps and flats - DEFGABCD. Two semitones between 5th and 6th notes (AB). D for dorian.

It's easy to hear the difference. Think "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", where you can really hear the one semitone interval in line 3.

In your example, there's a 2 semitone gap (E-F#) so it's A dorian, as Don says. If you played it in D, there'd be no sharps or flats.

 

Don't know if that makes sense but it works for me. You just need to focus on two intervals.

Edited by chas

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In most tunes, the mode is made progressively less ambiguous as the tune progresses. With The Sportsman's Hornpipe, the C natural in bar 1 tells you it's a minor mode of some sort. The G natural starting a rising figure in bar 2 says it's modal rather than tonal. If you're going to put a different triad under the second half of that bar, it'll be D major, which will already tell the listener than they're in the Dorian mode. In any case the F sharp in bar 7 is unmistakable because of its melodic function, and by the time you get to the second bar in the second part you've got an inescapable D major arpeggio and there's nothing left to guess.

 

I have a few examples in my tutorial of tunes that play sillybuggers with this expectation game, leaving the mode open until long after you've decided what it is, whereupon it proves you wrong. ("Flowers of the Forest" is a dramatic one).

 

The D major is the giveaway. If the tune can be harmonized with an A minor/G major two-chord trick (rather common) it's dorian/aeolian hexatonic.

Edited by Jack Campin

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Can I get a bit of feedback on my pages? I'm thinking of extending them in several different directions and I'd like to prioritize. Which of these matters most?

 

1. tidying up the introductory stuff to make it more beginner-friendly (I find this difficult or I'd already have done it)

 

2. adding more descriptions and examples of modes from Eastern Europe, India and the Middle East (not too hard)

 

3. describing the harmonic implications (I have a really neat idea for this but can't implement it - needs Javascript expertise which I don't have - it can't be done in the mix of HTML and ABC I've used so far. Anybody here have JS skills and can help me write something in maintainable code?)

 

4. more about the origin and structure of modes as composites of simpler scale fragments,

 

and (related)

 

5. the beginnings of a catalogue of melodic fragments that characterize modes, along the lines of Middle Eastern music theory but applied to Western music

 

6. working out the distinction between modes and interval species with as many examples as I can dig out

 

7. an explicit algebraic description of what's going on, using category theory (easy given the above, albeit a niche interest - as Blake put it "I have also The Bible of Hell, which the world shall have whether they will or no")

 

8. analyses and speculations on the interactions between modal structure, perception and form, along the lines of what I said above about the Sportsman's Hornpipe

 

What say you?

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Hi Jack, 1,2, and 3 make the most sense to me. Perhaps a section on how to identify modes as part of number one? 5 is good too and connects with my suggestion. I wish I could help with java script, but I don't have that either. Happy to read and react as you change things though... Chuck Boody.

Edited by cboody

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Using this tune as an example, is there straightforward way of figuring which mode you are in ?

In spite of it's key signature it's not in Emin as it starts on a C and ends on an A....but the F# says it's not Amin.....where does that leave us?

 

There's no question it's A Dorian, as others have said. Besides the standard Major (Ionian) and Minor (Aeolian), there are really only two other modes that crop up frequently in Irish or other traditional music, and those are Dorian and Mixolydian. If you just remember that Dorian is just like Minor but with a raised 6th note (the F# in this case) and Mixolydian is just like Major but with a lowered 7th note (and both are the same except for whether the 3rd note is raised or lowered), you will soon be able to answer questions like this just by hearing the tune rather than analyzing the notation.

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David

 

I would be grateful for your advice on harmonizing dorian, mixolydian and natural minor tunes, particularly on chord progressions that work in these modes.

 

Thx. Don.

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David

I would be grateful for your advice on harmonizing dorian, mixolydian and natural minor tunes, particularly on chord progressions that work in these modes.

Thx. Don.

This is mentioned above and gives a nice summary of chords used from common to uncommon. I'm not David, but maybe that will help you...

 

http://slowplayers.org/modes-keys/#kmintro

Edited by cboody

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