Mudcat Café message #1869719 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #95827   Message #1869719
Posted By: pavane
27-Oct-06 - 02:55 AM
Thread Name: Modes vs Scales
Subject: RE: Modes vs Scales
I believe the Beatles did one song in Locrian mode - can't remember which one it is at the moment.

The important thing to remember is that you do not harmonise the modes in the same way as you would a major or minor scale.

For example, if playing a Dorian mode tune, such as Scarborough Fair, with tonic note D, you would use the notes of a scale of C Major. But you would NOT normally use the chord G7.

How to recognise a Modal tune?
As others have said above, we need to distinguish the "Scale notes" from the tonic note of the tune. If you use the scale, for example, of the key of C, but the tune starts and ends on a different note than C, then you are PROBABLY using a mode.

(My program HARMONY can usually identify the mode of a tune automatically in this way.)

Key signatures for modes have been a topic of debate for a long time. There are two main schools of thought.

One way is to use the key signature as if it were in the major key of the tonic.
Imagine a song in Myxolydian mode (such as Rambling Sailor), starting on G (i.e. playing only the white notes). If you give this a key signature of G, or one sharp, then you have to put a natural on each occurrence of the note F in the tune. The advantage is that it is easily read by a musician, but it does not reflect the true nature of the tune.

The other is to use a signature containing only the accidentals which actually exist in the mode. In this case, you would use a key signature with NO sharps or flats. This does reflect the type of tune, but may mislead the reader.

If a complete score is provided, no harm will be done either way, and the sight-reader may not even notice, but where a tune is to be harmonised, it could make a big difference.