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#31
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
Well it's good to know where you're coming from although I find that to be a strange point of view. I personally find it very useful to think in terms of modes so even if it's "wrong" it has clear utility to me.
Understood. Of course, I use modes of major (and melodic and harmonic minor) scales as tonalities too. So we're disagreeing about terminology only, rather than sounds.


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Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
So what I was referring to as "modal harmony" is the only accurate use of the concept of modality in your opinion?
IMO that is the only usage that is both accurate and also useful.

Some people also use it to describe music with static harmony using the same notes as a mode of some popular scale, like many examples of Indian music that has droning notes and a melody and improvisation using the same intervals (or close microtonal variants) as mixolydian.

I woulld stop short of calling that objectively wrong, but to me that's misleading because that scale in that culture is, as far as we know, not a derivative of major scales like it is for us... it really is a home scale that implies no other tonality, nor relies on other tonalities for notes or theoretical ideas, in that music.

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Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
But rather than saying that a song was mixolydian you would just say that we're in the key of F but with a C tonal center?
No, I would just say it is mixolydian, or mixolydian or blues based depending on the particulars.

Key is really about resolution, that's the primary purpose and meaning of it. In diatonic music it also provides simple ways to know what the "good" notes are... and we extend that habit outside of diatonic music, which is where we get into trouble.

If I am talking about key in a non diatonic song, I am talking about the tonal center. It doesn't really work to say the key is one thing and the tonal center another. If it doesn't resolve to that root, it's not in that key.

Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
haha, what? Then you would just be playing C major. There's no such thing as playing an F lydian scale in the key of C!
I didn't say there was, exactly... I said diatonic C tonality... as distinct from "key" which would not be the correct term here.
You can absolutely play an F lydian scale over a diatonic C tonality. Play a CM7 and run up and down an F lydian scale as the chord still sounds. Done.

Scales can be linear melodic material. F lydian as a linear searies of notes doesn't cease to be F lydian as the context changes... although the resulting tonality of the piece as a whole certainly changes as different sets of notes are played together.

In that example, what defines that set of notes as F lydian as opposed to C ionian ? Just the order and emphasis, and this is really about the melodic line. It is possible to "play" different diatonic modes of the key with a certain amount of clarity, it just takes frequent emphasis of the changing starting notes.

This is what we are doing when we play through the changes of a diatonic song, by favoring chord tones. Sure, all those notes are in the original parent scale... but you can, nonetheless, make the changes.

Doing that over changing diatonic chords should be familiar to any competent player. Doing that while changing modes when the underlying chord does not change, is one other possible meaning of modal music that we haven't previously touched on. You could call that superimposing diatonic chords; it's like a non aggressive way of being harmonically aggressive.
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#32
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
No, I would just say it is mixolydian, or mixolydian or blues based depending on the particulars.
I thought you were opposed to using modal terminology! So you can't call it mixolydian.


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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I said diatonic C tonality... as distinct from "key" which would not be the correct term here.
You can absolutely play an F lydian scale over a diatonic C tonality. Play a CM7 and run up and down an F lydian scale as the chord still sounds. Done.
If C is the tonal center then you're not playing F lydian, you're just playing a C major scale. You can't separate the names of the modes from their relationship to a tonal center. That's like playing a song with a simple I IV V progression in C major and insisting that the melody is in A minor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
Scales can be linear melodic material. F lydian as a linear searies of notes doesn't cease to be F lydian as the context changes...
Yes it does! The label "F Lydian" is entirely down to context (the context being an F tonal center).

Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
In that example, what defines that set of notes as F lydian as opposed to C ionian ? Just the order and emphasis, and this is really about the melodic line. It is possible to "play" different diatonic modes of the key with a certain amount of clarity, it just takes frequent emphasis of the changing starting notes.
Ah, see I think this is where you've gotten it wrong. Order of notes is irrelevant. It's just a shorthand way to remember what the modes are (ie F lydian is a C major scale starting on F). If you're in the key of C and you play up and down the C major scale starting and ending on F, you're not playing in lydian mode. The modes only have a meaning in relation to a tonal center.
#33
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
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Think of it this way:

A C major scale is not going to necessarily sound like C major unless you establish C as the tonal center. If you play a C major scale on top of an unchanging A minor chord drone then you can call it what ever you want, but it's going to sound like you're playing an A minor scale. That's true no matter which notes you start or stop on.

Likewise an F Lydian scale is not going to sound lydian unless it's played within the context of an F tonal center. You can think of it as lydian while you jam away on top of a C major chord vamp but it's not going to have the characteristic lydian sound and to everyone else it's just going to sound like a C major scale.

The "which note am I starting on" thing only makes sense if you're playing scales on their own devoid of any harmony or other tonal reference point which isn't a very common musical situation.
#34
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raylai View Post
Do you guys EVER intended to write melody with "mode" (Dorian...Lydian.. Etc) concept?
First, ignore anyone who tells you modes are anything but incredibly useful.

You have to understand that modes are entirely conceptual, and as such, entirely wonderful for songwriting/melodic experiments.

However, you'll need to develope your own feel/emotional resonance to the intervallic relationships that give each mode its own color, so it becomes instinctual instead of academic.

One really fun exercise that can foster this development is to take a melody and/or a chord progression and figure out where it's coming from mode-wise, then, keeping whichever note you consider the root constant, alter the rest of it to conform to the intervallic relationships implied by the other 6 modes - so you end up with the original and 6 variations. If you're really adventurous, you can branch out into non diatonic 7 note scales (e.g. harmonic minor, melodic minor) giving even more variations and colors.

It's a blast, and the potential for combining and recombining ideas and experiments are limitless.
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.....Along with a link to one or three of their own mixes that demonstrate what the poster is claiming. Otherwise, they're just blowin' smoke out their @ss and asking me to breathe deep.
#35
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
I thought you were opposed to using modal terminology! So you can't call it mixolydian.
I have no issue calling something a mixolydian tonality, if that's what it is. Which should be obvious seeing as I've used the term numerous times in this thread already.


Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
If C is the tonal center then you're not playing F lydian, you're just playing a C major scale. You can't separate the names of the modes from their relationship to a tonal center.
Sure you can. A series of notes has an identity as a series of notes. It does not depend on context (and likewise it does not define the context). An F lydian scale is what it is no matter the tonal center. Those notes can also accurately be described as being in a C major tonality. Or as outlining or reinforcing a diatonic V7.

Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
Yes it does! The label "F Lydian" is entirely down to context (the context being an F tonal center).
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
The modes only have a meaning in relation to a tonal center.
If we're at the point of just repeating arguments, then I'm going to prepare my goodbye speech.
#36
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I have no issue calling something a mixolydian tonality, if that's what it is. Which should be obvious seeing as I've used the term numerous times in this thread already.
I'm probably just being a little slow here, and I kind of wish some other posters would jump into the discussion. But I don't think your position is obvious at all. You said that talking about modes is "either wrong, or else useless, in practically any context. So I don't advocate using it at all outside of academic discussions." And yet you keep using terms like mixolydian which is a mode. So yeah, I don't really get where you're coming from.


Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
Sure you can. A series of notes has an identity as a series of notes. It does not depend on context
So how do you respond to the relative minor example? I mean, the whole idea of modes is that the color of a scale changes depending on the context. A series of notes does not just have a single identity. The series of notes that make up C major can also be heard as A minor depending on the context.
#37
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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For the benefit of the OP:

Both of these bickering bozos are correct in their own way. Again...it's totally conceptual.

It's certainly simplest in the beginning to think of F Lydian simply as F, G, A, B, C, D, E, and the intervals as major 2nd, major 3rd, raised 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, major 7th.

However, nothing is to stop you from learning a Lydian pattern and/or applying a Lydian concept in situations where the "tonal center" does not happen to be F.

For example, if the overall musical situation is a bluesy G9, you will likely get different sounding results depending on whether you are thinking G Mixolydian or F Lydian. Sure, it will sound like G9 (Mixolydian) to the listener either way, but your phrases will come out differently depending on your concept.

And often you can interpret a given musical situation in even more radically differing ways than that - the above, for example, as G Mixolydian b6, or G Lydian Dominant.

Say you're changing chords from F to Em - that could all be C major (F Lydian/E Phrygian) but it could also easily be C major going to D major (F Lydian to E Dorian) or even something off the wall like C major to B Harmonic Minor (F Lydian to E Dorian #4)....


I guess the above disagreement boils down to concept vs context, as well as historical application and concept vs modern perhaps, but it does not have to be a mutually exclusive situation.

If it helps some make a distinction between e.g. Mixolydian as a mode vs. a "parent scale," so be it. You either find it useful or not. Take Blues for example. Often people will refer to I, IV and V chords, but each of those is actually the 5th degree of a different scale because they're all dom 7 chords, and it might be useful to see Mixolydian as the "parent scale" in each case - or maybe not.

It's usually best not to get overly cerebral about Blues in any case....

It's much more fun to see music theory as a set of observations rather than a set of rules!
#38
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
But I don't think your position is obvious at all. You said that talking about modes is "either wrong, or else useless, in practically any context. So I don't advocate using it at all outside of academic discussions." And yet you keep using terms like mixolydian which is a mode. So yeah, I don't really get where you're coming from.
Well, if you'd be more careful to observe what I am actually saying, you'd have a better chance of getting it.

You asked (after other questions) -
What terminology would you use there instead and what would be the proper use of the term modal?

I replied -
As to the last part, I am basically saying that the term is either wrong, or else useless, in practically any context.

As you can see, I was referring to the term "modal", rather than to any discussion of modes.

I use and refer to modes all the time, as scales and as tonalities and as part of my practice routine.

I'm still waiting for someone - anyone ? - to take a stab at defining what a "modal" tune is supposed to be, without it being so inclusive as to be practically useless.

Writing a song using diatonic chords from any mode doesn't cut, or else "Mary Had a Little Lamb" has to be modal, and therefore we aren't really distinguishing anything by calling "So What" modal.

Using that definition but excluding ionian (...because... ?) doesn't solve the problem either, or else every diatonic minor tune is just as modal as "So What". And that's clearly not the intent behind "modal" as applied to jazz classics; it's supposed to be more specific than that.

Writing a song with a dominant chord as the tonic doesn't cut it, or else blues and all kinds of familiar rock and pop is modal, and again, we aren't really distinguishing much by calling "So What' modal.

Here's a guy that got a Ph.D. in music specifically on a thesis on this topic, making pretty much the same point about the term:

https://urresearch.rochester.edu/ins...alItemId=13845

page 7:

Although earlier Davis albums, such as Milestones, had featured individual modal tunes, Ashley Kahn claims that Kind of Blue was the first album that consisted entirely of such compositions.

That being said, it has never been entirely clear what the term “modal” really means to jazz performers, or even that its practitioners endorse a single meaning of the term. In 1982, Kernfeld noted this difficulty in his seminal discussion of the improvisational techniques of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley. He insisted that the term “modal” was a misnomer and that the music was more accurately described by the term “vamp style,” which referred to accompanimental patterns and compositional features of tunes which had been described as “modal.” More recently, Keith Waters elucidated some of the issues and difficulties in describing this repertoire. In particular, he draws a very important distinction between three types of musical activity as they relate to modal jazz:composition, improvisation, and pedagogy.

In contrast to earlier jazz idioms, modal jazz seems to be organized in different ways. For one thing, it often seems to be built from discrete and novel scalar collections. For another, it replaces functional progressions, especially the ubiquitous ii-V-I pattern with the extensive use of pedals, and planing, nonfunctional chords. Finally, it steers clear of the rapid chord changes found in earlier styles with slow harmonic rhythm. Describing this repertoire in terms of scale membership engages a long-standing issue in music theory, that of how best to model polyphonic music, be it tonal or modal. This issue prompts us to speculate about whether we should focus primarily on what notes are present in the music or on how those notes behave in the context of each polyphonic line. Moreover, the distinction
between modal jazz composition and improvisation begs the question of whether the term “modal” actually means the same thing in these two domains.


Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
So how do you respond to the relative minor example? I mean, the whole idea of modes is that the color of a scale changes depending on the context. A series of notes does not just have a single identity. The series of notes that make up C major can also be heard as A minor depending on the context.
How things can be heard is a distinct question from the various ways their components can (accurately) be described. This cuts both ways; the context is modified by (and a composite of) the components, and the components are heard differently in context. Sets of notes are not limited to only being able to be described or heard in one way at a time.

It's like a group of notes that can be analyzed as more than one chord. G A C E could be an Am7 or a C6, or could be ambiguous, depending on voicing and context... nonetheless the notes in Am7 are A C E G and the notes that define C6 are C E G A... because that's what those structures are, whether they are found as parts of something else, or are looked at in isolation.
#39
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
As you can see, I was referring to the term "modal", rather than to any discussion of modes.

I use and refer to modes all the time, as scales and as tonalities and as part of my practice routine.
WTF. Modal just means "using modes". So if you use modes then you have no gripe with the term "modal."
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
WTF. Modal just means "using modes".
No, it doesn't. Again, anything diatonic is "using modes". Ionian is a mode too. What music doesn't "use modes", other that percussion music that doesn't involve specific tunings of fundamentals, or truly atonal music ?

"Modal" is a term used for a specific style of jazz, and sometimes for some pop music influenced by that type of jazz (like "Eight Miles High").
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
No, it doesn't. Again, anything diatonic is "using modes". Ionian is a mode too. What music doesn't "use modes", other that percussion music that doesn't involve specific tunings of fundamentals, or truly atonal music ?
Yes, that's why it's a useful concept. Although in casual usage, it's generally meant to refer to the other modes apart from major and minor, which weren't traditionally considered part of "tonal" music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
"Modal" is a term used for a specific style of jazz, and sometimes for some pop music influenced by that type of jazz (like "Eight Miles High").
Yes "modal jazz" is a specific thing. But so is a modal scale such as mixolydian.
#42
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
Yes, that's why it's a useful concept.
Not really... unless you can produce an example of diatonic music that doesn't, as you said, "use modes".

Without that, it's a subcategory with no distinction from the larger category of diatonic music. It's like an adjective that fails to describe... it serves no purpose.
#43
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Wait, is this the same dude who thought that Mixolydian mode was playing the C mixolydian scale over an F root? Bwahahaha! No wonder he doesn't understand why people find thinking in modes useful.
#44
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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update: I think this is sorted by now, but I posted this while I was working my way through the early part of the thread...

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Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
But there are particular ways that you can play around with a key signature and you're in a mode which gives you a certain sound. Might as well call it that right? If you just think "in this song I'm using a flat 3, 6, and 7, then you may as well call it Dorian, right?

I guess the way I see it, the modes do exist, and you're either recognizing them for what they are, but just calling them by a different name, or you're not actually recognizing them.
I don't think in modes, myself, but I'm pretty sure the modern Dorian Mode (D Dorian) has a major 6. The 6th note is B, after all, right?
#45
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I don't think in modes, myself, but I'm pretty sure the modern Dorian Mode (D Dorian) has a major 6. The 6th note is B, after all, right?
That's right.
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
That's right.
Whew. I don't know much at all about modes but that was about the only thing I thought I knew. (I had an all-improv band for a while and I used to play in Dorian mode a lot, I liked the vibe, but it drove the lap steel/clarinetist nutty that I used it so much. Me, I really had no idea what modes were but he sort of explained it to me enough so that I'd know what he was talking about when he told me to play something else for a change.)


BTW... the excerpt from the Jason Titus paper on 'modal jazz' was really interesting -- I'd wondered about the application of that term and how it related to what little I knew/understood about modes in music theory. But what he writes helps reconcile it all for me.

FWIW, I've found this discussion very helpful. Not so much game-changing as mind-putting-to-rest. I'd worried that there was something I somehow wasn't getting about modes and modality but this dialog has helped me get my understanding back in perspective.
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22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Whew. I don't know much at all about modes but that was about the only thing I thought I knew. (I had an all-improv band for a while and I used to play in Dorian mode a lot, I liked the vibe, but it drove the lap steel/clarinetist nutty that I used it so much. Me, I really had no idea what modes were but he sort of explained it to me enough so that I'd know what he was talking about when he told me to play something else for a change.)
I played in an afro beat band for several years. 100% of the minor tunes were based on dorian. The leader who wrote the tunes didn't know music theory as such, but he heard it that way, and it is consistent with Fela's music (at least favoring dorian if not using it exclusively for minor).


Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
BTW... the excerpt from the Jason Titus paper on 'modal jazz' was really interesting -- I'd wondered about the application of that term and how it related to what little I knew/understood about modes in music theory. But what he writes helps reconcile it all for me.
Yeah, I thought the whole paper was pretty interesting, you can download the full content for free from that link (which is not always the case with academic papers).

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
FWIW, I've found this discussion very helpful. Not so much game-changing as mind-putting-to-rest. I'd worried that there was something I somehow wasn't getting about modes and modality but this dialog has helped me get my understanding back in perspective.
Glad it's not been entirely useless.

The bottom line, really, is that when someone says they're being "modal", they're either going for something like that early 60s Coltrane sound with few chords, very long solos, and probably using quartal harmony; none of which have any more to do with modes than any other jazz; or else they're using some mode of a major scale as the tonic for their composition.

If the latter, what we're really talking about is scale based harmony. It isn't particularly relevant if the scale happens to be a mode of major, or something more exotic. After all, we're talking about using modes as scales and from that, as tonalities of their own. The fact that the scale we are using is also a mode of another more familiar scale is beside the point.

It wouldn't make much sense to exclude a song from the intent behind this term because it is based on lydian diminished, for example, seeing as George Russell's concepts are directly foundational for "modal jazz".

If thinking about any scale that is also a mode is "modal" playing, then bebop is modal as hell, because most players in that style rely heavily on looking for the next dominant progression from wherever they are in the song and relating to mixo on that root for all the diatonic changes leading up to it. That's bebop improvisation strategy 101. That cat can play ! He's making the changes !

And yet "modal" as a style of music is about the newer, harmonically leaner approach of the music that replaced bebop. The purpose of the term is to distinguish it from the earlier style.
#48
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug View Post
Wait, is this the same dude who thought that Mixolydian mode was playing the C mixolydian scale over an F root? Bwahahaha! No wonder he doesn't understand why people find thinking in modes useful.
Hey, I've got this idea for a new approach to music. I call it "note music". In order to create it, what you do is use notes. (Not new ones, just the ones you already know.) Using and thinking about notes are what makes this kind of music special, and because it's a special category of music, it is impressive and makes me seem intellectual and learned, unlike other people.

This is useful and powerful because you can get ideas from the notes, and you can think about them as you play your note based music. A really cool thing about them is that you can use one instead of another, and then you have different sounds, because you are using different notes. And this is unexpected (until you do it a bunch of times).

Anybody that doesn't identify themselves as working in this system is dumb, or doesn't understand it, because clearly you can do a lot of things with notes.
#49
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I don't think in modes, myself, but I'm pretty sure the modern Dorian Mode (D Dorian) has a major 6. The 6th note is B, after all, right?
LOL, maybe I should stay away from modes after all
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
Hey, I've got this idea for a new approach to music. I call it "note music". In order to create it, what you do is use notes. (Not new ones, just the ones you already know.) Using and thinking about notes are what makes this kind of music special, and because it's a special category of music, it is impressive and makes me seem intellectual and learned, unlike other people.
I think we should eliminate the word "note" because after all a "note" is simply a pitch and using the word "note" doesn't give us any extra pitches so it's completely useless. You might as well just say exactly what you're doing using the proper terminology: "I'm playing 130.81Hz, 164.81Hz, and 196Hz simultaneously".

That's essentially what you've been arguing. Musical notes are simply a specific family of pitches and musical modes are a specific family of scales.
#51
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
Not really... unless you can produce an example of diatonic music that doesn't, as you said, "use modes".

Without that, it's a subcategory with no distinction from the larger category of diatonic music. It's like an adjective that fails to describe... it serves no purpose.
Yes the ionian and aeolian modes on their own wouldn't be adding anything new to diatonic music but the other modes can be used to add various non-diatonic notes. That is, if you use the mode as the tonic, which should go without saying since that's the whole point of modal playing.
#52
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
I think we should eliminate the word "note" because after all a "note" is simply a pitch and using the word "note" doesn't give us any extra pitches so it's completely useless. You might as well just say exactly what you're doing using the proper terminology: "I'm playing 130.81Hz, 164.81Hz, and 196Hz simultaneously".

That's essentially what you've been arguing. Musical notes are simply a specific family of pitches and musical modes are a specific family of scales.
You play sine waves?
#53
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Originally Posted by unitymusic View Post
You play sine waves?
Not exclusively but I didn't want to take up the space required to type out one of my more complex compositions.
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
I think we should eliminate the word "note" because after all a "note" is simply a pitch and using the word "note" doesn't give us any extra pitches so it's completely useless. You might as well just say exactly what you're doing using the proper terminology: "I'm playing 130.81Hz, 164.81Hz, and 196Hz simultaneously".

That's essentially what you've been arguing. Musical notes are simply a specific family of pitches and musical modes are a specific family of scales.
Well, proper terminology, since you brought it up, would be that I am playing notes nominally tuned to those fundamentals (if indeed those were the ones I chose). Frequencies actually heard as a result would of course vary, because real instruments vary in pitch and have harmonics.

But no, you don't understand. I'm not talking about just some specific notes or pitches, I'm talking about all of them. My concept is of a music that uses notes. It's the best way to make music that sounds harmonious and organized, and if you don't see that, you don't understand.

That's what you're arguing about modes; you're describing a special class, which everything is already in anyway. Therefore, it's not a special class.

Musical modes are not a "specific family of scales". They are permutations of any scale. You can take any scale that exists and reorganize it into its' modes. Even the starting version of that scale is also a mode - the first mode of that scale.

The most common scales in western music and their familiar modes are not special in that regard.

Show me a song that doesn't "use modes".

Or maybe we can have a sing along of some of those classic modal tunes, like "Happy Birthday", "Mary Had a Little Lamb", and "Jimmy Crack Corn". Those all use ionian like they own it.
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I mean, any song ever written that starts with any recognizable chord or scale can be seen as "modal" at least until it gets to the first chord change, right ? If you have to stop there, because it doesn't work any more, it ain't modal.

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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post

I'm still waiting for someone - anyone ? - to take a stab at defining what a "modal" tune is supposed to be, without it being so inclusive as to be practically useless.
English is not my native tongue so discussing music theory is a little bit hard... But I´ll give it a shot:

Your definition of a modal tune, is a song that uses the same scale for the entire song, right? "So What" can´t therefore be a modal tune because it modulates?

For me, that´s a little bit backwards. A modal song doesn´t require that the same scale is used from start to finish. The point of thinking modal, is that every chord in the song has it´s own scale, with or without any relation to the previous or following chord, or the other way around; the scales dictates the progression. Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock is an example of a modal song, that switch between different scales.

I´m not sure that what I have written, makes any sence, but I did try.
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Originally Posted by basmartin View Post
Your definition of a modal tune, is a song that uses the same scale for the entire song, right? "So What" can´t therefore be a modal tune because it modulates?
You're communicating fine, no problem there.


I'm saying the term is useless. There are only scale based tunes. All of them "use modes", in one or another meaning of the term, so calling a tune "modal" doesn't really say anything.

("tune" for now meaning a composition using some sort of harmony and tuning conventions, not noise or percussion solos.)

All modes are also scales, and all scales are modes of some scale - even if just the first mode of whatever scale it is.

When you transplant a mode to a different root, you are using it as a scale. The fact that the scale you chose is also a mode of some other common scale is irrelevant.



Advocates of the approach of using "some mode of major other than the most common two" as a tonality are saying that this gives them more options - if compared only to strictly diatonic major or relative minor.

Quibbling about the terms aside, that's quaint but true.

On the other hand, that approach also offers far fewer options than simply recognizing that any scale can be a compositional source.


Quote:
Originally Posted by basmartin View Post
The point of thinking modal, is that every chord in the song has it´s own scale, with or without any relation to the previous or following chord, or the other way around; the scales dictates the progression. Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock is an example of a modal song, that switch between different scales.
Well, the first of those is yet another idea of what "modal" could mean to someone, in addition to the various others that have been named in this thread so far.

I would call what you're describing by other terms, depending on the details. "Non functional harmony", "chromatic harmony", "modern", "impressionistic", "ambiguous", etc. (And to be clear, I like lots of compositions like that, none of those terms are negative.)

As you describe it above, you could be talking about really dissonant chromatic music and it would be just as accurate.


The common thing to these allegedly "modal" songs, is not modes, it's stacked fourths and keeping the number of changes to a minimum.
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22nd February 2012
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I will concede the silly semantic argument. Since major and natural minor scales are also modes we should technically say "modes other than Ionian and Aeolian" to clarify what we mean.

But hopefully you can concede that the common usage of the terms mode and modal generally imply just that. When a musician talks about playing in modes they mean "playing in modes other than ionian and aeolian." That's language for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
Musical modes are not a "specific family of scales". They are permutations of any scale. You can take any scale that exists and reorganize it into its' modes. Even the starting version of that scale is also a mode - the first mode of that scale.
And now you're needlessly expanding the definition. Sure, you could create permutations of any scale, but when people talk about modes they specifically mean dorian, phrygian, lydian, and mixolydian 99% of the time. But go ahead and take a "modal" approach to any scale you like. You win the semantic police merit badge today.

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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I'm saying the term is useless. There are only scale based tunes. All of them "use modes", in one or another meaning of the term, so calling a tune "modal" doesn't really say anything.
We should also be careful to banish the use of the term "blues" since blues is just another scale after all and there are only "scale based tunes."

I think the term "modal jazz" is tripping you up too much. Like all genre names it's a bit irrational and while there are modal elements to "modal jazz" there are other characteristics of the style that aren't essentially related to the modes. You can use a blues scale outside of the 12 bar blues style and it's still a blues scale even if the music isn't blues. Likewise any use of a modal scale is modal without necessarily being modal jazz.
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22nd February 2012
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I mean if I want to get really pedantic about it, I should point out that you're basically fighting against the concept of synecdoche here.
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22nd February 2012
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Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
But hopefully you can concede that the common usage of the terms mode and modal generally imply just that. When a musician talks about playing in modes they mean "playing in modes other than ionian and aeolian." That's language for you.
Yes, I criticize the use of the term, but I know what people probably mean when they use it. They mean "play stacked fourths and don't change very often while I solo, and we can kill 15 minutes".

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Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
And now you're needlessly expanding the definition. Sure, you could create permutations of any scale, but when people talk about modes they specifically mean dorian, phrygian, lydian, and mixolydian 99% of the time.
Oh, I wouldn't call that needless, at least not for a jazz musician or a composer. I work on the modes of melodic and harmonic minor frequently. Sometimes other less traveled scales too. I may not cycle through all modes of more dissonant or asymmetric scales, but I'll think through some of them to build chords.

Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
We should also be careful to banish the use of the term "blues" since blues is just another scale after all and there are only "scale based tunes."
I have no complaint with multiple valid meanings of one word. I just don't want multiple invalid ones. And while I expect that civilians talking about the importance of "Kind of Blue" are going to butcher some music theory concepts along the way, musicians have reasons to get it right. Not just to be sticklers for words; also because we need to thoroughly understand these concepts in order to use them or build on them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
I think the term "modal jazz" is tripping you up too much. Like all genre names it's a bit irrational and while there are modal elements to "modal jazz" there are other characteristics of the style that aren't essentially related to the modes. You can use a blues scale outside of the 12 bar blues style and it's still a blues scale even if the music isn't blues. Likewise any use of a modal scale is modal without necessarily being modal jazz.
It's not just about that particular style. There's lots of 3 chord rock songs that only use chords that come from mixolydian. If words have meaning, that's about as modal as you can be. But nobody calls that music modal, in the real world.

This is a good example of how the term does more harm than good - if we were at least using it in a uniform way, people could learn something real from it.

When you are trying to reconcile the way something sounds to how it is made, using the names that are commonly applied to it, in order to understand it as a musician, and the term is not accurately or consistently applied, you are having your time and effort wasted for you. Stuff like that is why people legitimately get turned off to music theory.
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22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
You're communicating fine, no problem there.


I'm saying the term is useless. There are only scale based tunes. All of them "use modes", in one or another meaning of the term, so calling a tune "modal" doesn't really say anything.

("tune" for now meaning a composition using some sort of harmony and tuning conventions, not noise or percussion solos.)

All modes are also scales, and all scales are modes of some scale - even if just the first mode of whatever scale it is.

When you transplant a mode to a different root, you are using it as a scale. The fact that the scale you chose is also a mode of some other common scale is irrelevant.



Advocates of the approach of using "some mode of major other than the most common two" as a tonality are saying that this gives them more options - if compared only to strictly diatonic major or relative minor.

Quibbling about the terms aside, that's quaint but true.

On the other hand, that approach also offers far fewer options than simply recognizing that any scale can be a compositional source.




Well, the first of those is yet another idea of what "modal" could mean to someone, in addition to the various others that have been named in this thread so far.

I would call what you're describing by other terms, depending on the details. "Non functional harmony", "chromatic harmony", "modern", "impressionistic", "ambiguous", etc. (And to be clear, I like lots of compositions like that, none of those terms are negative.)

As you describe it above, you could be talking about really dissonant chromatic music and it would be just as accurate.


The common thing to these allegedly "modal" songs, is not modes, it's stacked fourths and keeping the number of changes to a minimum.
Thanks for the explanation!

I understand what you mean, but I still think there a point using the term. Difficult to explain... Yes, songs are scale based, but "non-modal" songs is more based on a chord progression and the sum of the progression is the tonal environment. With exceptions, of course. Modal music is more static, if the chord changes, it´s basically a modulation. You know all that, just writing out how I think.

If you rather call it "non functional harmony", that´s probably ok too, but they would be synonyms to me, of some sort.

You brought up "Mary had a little lamb" before. It´s as we know, based on the Ionian scale. Played over a drone, it would be modal.

Interesting discussion, I agree on many things, but I still see a point in separating music based on chord progressions and that music formerly known as modal. They do sound different, at least.
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