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The Naming of Modes

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NormanD 09 Jul 08 - 01:33 PM
Girl Friday 09 Jul 08 - 01:39 PM
Jack Campin 09 Jul 08 - 02:21 PM
8_Pints 09 Jul 08 - 03:01 PM
Don Firth 09 Jul 08 - 03:07 PM
Jim McLean 09 Jul 08 - 05:11 PM
Artful Codger 09 Jul 08 - 06:09 PM
Don Firth 09 Jul 08 - 06:09 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Jul 08 - 06:12 PM
M.Ted 09 Jul 08 - 06:26 PM
Jack Campin 09 Jul 08 - 06:28 PM
SharonA 09 Jul 08 - 06:33 PM
Tootler 09 Jul 08 - 06:43 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Jul 08 - 07:40 PM
Jack Campin 09 Jul 08 - 09:03 PM
Don Firth 09 Jul 08 - 09:22 PM
SharonA 09 Jul 08 - 09:41 PM
M.Ted 09 Jul 08 - 11:08 PM
Celtaddict 09 Jul 08 - 11:17 PM
Piers Plowman 10 Jul 08 - 02:56 AM
Piers Plowman 10 Jul 08 - 02:57 AM
pavane 10 Jul 08 - 03:36 AM
Paul Burke 10 Jul 08 - 04:24 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 10 Jul 08 - 05:05 AM
Peace 10 Jul 08 - 05:59 AM
Piers Plowman 10 Jul 08 - 07:18 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 08 - 08:30 AM
Valmai Goodyear 10 Jul 08 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin (on a cookieless computer) 10 Jul 08 - 01:49 PM
Don Firth 10 Jul 08 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Glenn Miller 10 Jul 08 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Jul 08 - 05:20 PM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Jul 08 - 06:56 PM
M.Ted 10 Jul 08 - 07:03 PM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Jul 08 - 07:13 PM
Piers Plowman 11 Jul 08 - 02:46 AM
pavane 11 Jul 08 - 03:03 AM
Jack Campin 11 Jul 08 - 06:49 AM
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Subject: The Naming of Modes
From: NormanD
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 01:33 PM

"Locrian", "Myxolidian", "Dorian", "Ionian", "Phrygian", "Aeolian", "Lydian". These names for diatonic scales come mainly from Greek Islands, or regions, from Before the Common Era. But why have these names persisted? Has anyone ever come up with a serious attempt at renamimg them?

Are there any other modes that people know or play? I know of one called "Ahava Raba", used mainly in klezmer.

Norman


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Girl Friday
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 01:39 PM

TDL sing in s mode called "Catatonic"


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 02:21 PM

Look at the modes tutorial on my site (book-length, uses ABC):

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Modes.abc

I didn't try to go for a comprehensive list; it isn't as useful for Western European folk musicians as getting a good handle on the 30-odd distinct modes I describe there, and I wanted to have multiple musical examples for everything I included. A systematic trawl through the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music would give you thousands, most of which would be useless without months of training in the tradition they came from.

The Greek names got their meanings completely scrambled in the early Middle Ages, with some additional scrambling in the Renaissance, the nonsensical "Locrian" mode added even later by obsessional systematists, and the whole system rather weirdly reinterpreted in the 19th century by the folklorists. My tutorial lists all these successive versions (though I stop short of including the way they function in jazz terminology, which is different again).

These Greek originals were only a small subset of the variety of modes used in Greek music; they were the "diatonic" modes, there were also "chromatic", "enharmonic" and "intense chromatic" ones.

If there's a mode or angle on modes I've left out there that you have a genuine use for, let me know and I'll put it in.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: 8_Pints
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 03:01 PM

I think the nonsensical "Locrian" mode was used by John Kirkpatrick when he wrote "The Grave Digger's Song" as an experiment, but it does seem to   me to be coherent.

Bob


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 03:07 PM

Great bit of work Jack. I've bookmarked it and intend to give it a good, thorough read.

But as to changing the names, why? The Greek names for the modes have been around for a couple of millennia now, and although they've been through some re-shuffling at various times, there is historical context for the names and most musicians with some training in music theory know what each one of them means in terms of scale structure. What would be accomplished by changing them?

If the names were to be changed, presumably the purpose would be to make them more descriptive of the scale structure each mode consists of. What would one change them to?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Jim McLean
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 05:11 PM

As Norman Cadzden said, "why call it Ionian Heptatonic when we mean Major"


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Artful Codger
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 06:09 PM

Perhaps "moods":

"I play this in the hyper-lugubrious mood, with a depressed F."


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 06:09 PM

And the Aeolian mode is the same as natural minor (as contrasted with harmonic and melodic minor).

The modern major (Ionian mode) and minor (Aeolian mode) are the most commonly used scales in modern music, quite probably because they seem to be the most versatile. Dorian mode and Mixolidian mode, along with various Pentatonic scales, are often encountered in British Isles and American folk music (but not exclusively, of course), not that commonly in popular or classical music of recent centuries. The Dorian mode is the same as the Aeolian mode/natural minor, except that it has a raised sixth. The Mixolidian mode is the same as the modern major scale (Ionian mode) except that it has a flatted seventh. The Phrygian mode is often encountered in flamenco music, probably because it lies well on the guitar fingerboard.

I've always referred to major as "major" and minor as "minor," but I'm perfectly at home with the Greek names for the other modes.

Again I ask:   what would you change them to? And why?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 06:12 PM

Well, "Modus Lascivicus" has a certain charm.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 06:26 PM

Jack Campin's points are the *money* points. I would put special emphasis on the idea that each *mode* is a scale that is part of a larger system music system or musical tradition that is defined by a lot of other elements, which are often more important   than the scales themselves.

And what it's worth, even though the names of the modes mentioned above are Greek, those are not the names used for modes/scales in Greek traditional music.

As to renaming, Western classical music theory evolved from church mode theory, so actually, they have been renamed--Ionian is the "Major Scale", Aeolian is the "Natural Minor", and the Mixolydian is the "Dominant Scale"--they have functions that go beyond
the possibilities of the older music forms.

The others can be given other names, too. Dorian can be called "Supertonic scale", Phrygian can be called "Mediant scale", Lydian can be called "Subdominant scale", Locrian can be called "Subtonic scale"--


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 06:28 PM

Against that, there is a tradition reported of the Jews of Istanbul in the 19th century that they had ten modes and associated them with the Ten Commandments. So there would have been a "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" mode.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: SharonA
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 06:33 PM

Don, I guess I would change them to something that corresponded to the "do re mi" names. "Do Mode", "Re Mode", etc.

Why? Becaues the Greek names are so difficult (for some of us) to remember. I can never keep in my head which name goes with which mode. Or, as I like to say, they're all Aeolian because some A-eol came up with the names.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Tootler
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 06:43 PM

I found this to be very useful.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 07:40 PM

Pray good gentle souls, I suggest a new mode:









WAV....


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 09:03 PM

The names SharonA suggested have in fact been used quite a lot; they're less common now than they used to be. One slight problem with them is that they make an implicit assumption which isn't necessarily true: that the solfa degrees will be sung at the same pitch whatever the mode. That depends on your tuning system.

The site Tootler referenced looks quite good for what it does, but it's not all that useful for theorizing folk music.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 09:22 PM

Right. European countries tend to use a "fixed do" system in which "do" is always "C," "re" is always "D," and so on. Whereas, in America, the "moveable do" system is used. So referring to the Dorian mode as the "re mode," Phrygian as the "mi mode," etc., could lead to even further confusion.

Already, due to the way modes are explained in some theory classes (the "all white keys" approach), some music students leap to the conclusion that pieces or songs in modes have to be played or sung with those exact pitches (only white keys, no black keys allowed), instead of whatever pitches you want, just as long as the relationship of steps and half-steps between the notes remains consistent with the particular mode. And once they get that in their heads, it takes a while to pry them loose from the notion.

No, I would just bite the bullet and memorize the scale structures and the Greek names for them, and not risk stirring up even further confusion.

Them's my sediments. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: SharonA
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 09:41 PM

Ah! Thanks for clarifying that for me, Jack and Don. As an American, I assumed the "moveable do" mentality, and I thought it was universal. Never heard of the concept of a "fixed do" before. From Don's explanation, it sounds synonymous with the "all white keys" concept.

I guess you could adapt the Nashville numbering system to modes... but that also would lead to confusion ("the IV chord in the VI mode" -- eek!).

Awwwrighhht, I'll learn the Greek names *mumble grumble whine* (shuffling feet with head bowed)


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 11:08 PM

Consider the idea of Absolute modes and relative modes--the relative mode being the one that starts on a given step of another scale, while the absolute mode would simply start on a given pitch. Absolute Dorian would start on C, relative dorian would start on the second step of a C scale.

As for the "10 commandment modes"--it kind of makes sense, since the modes tended to be named for the prayer melodies that the notes were in. I would guess that the names were no longer used after the 10 commandments stopped being part of the daily prayers.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Celtaddict
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 11:17 PM

Flippancy alert: now I have a poetic earworm.

The naming of modes is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter
When I tell you a mode must have three different names.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 02:56 AM

The Locrian mode is useful for improvising over a half-diminished chord a.k.a a minor seventh chord with a flatted fifth. The half-whole scale might be a more exciting choice, though, eg., C Db Eb F# G A Bb C.

One can use mathematical methods to construct all sorts of scales, modes and melodic patterns. With computers nowadays, it's reasonably easy to do this and even to typeset them automatically. A classic book (and it really is a classic that deserves this overused epithet) on this subject is Nicholas Slonimsky's _A Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns_.

I could go on about this (and on and on), but I have to start work.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 02:57 AM

The naming of modes is a delicate matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games.
I know you will think I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you a mode must have twelve different names.

(With apologies to T.S. Eliot)


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: pavane
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 03:36 AM

There seems to be no logical difference between the "Fixed Doh" (which was probably the original form) and the use of note letters (C,D,E...).

It was originally invented by a monk as a mnemonic system "Ut Reh Mi..." from the first words of a hymn in which the start was an ascending scale, but Doh is easier to sing then Ut.

The movable Doh IS different and more flexible, of course.

PS
I believe that the Beatles wrote one song in Locrian mode.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Paul Burke
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 04:24 AM

To-day we have Naming of Modes. Yesterday,
We had semidemiquavers. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have how to sing harmonies. But to-day,
To-day we have Naming of Modes. Kyrie
Drifts like incense from a neighbouring church,
And to-day we have Naming of Modes.

(Apologies to Henry Reed)


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 05:05 AM

Nice one, Paul -

We had to use fixed-doh solfege in college (Boston) (as in Mass.) and it always irritated the life out of me - the main purpose for it is to fix the interval relationships, and those should be transposable to any key. Indeed you can just say "C-D-E..." instead, and a lot simpler it is too. Not allowing a movable-doh just negates the point of the exercise. And if you've had fixed-doh rammed down your unwilling throat, it makes it that much harder to ever use it for any other tonic base.

We also had to sing "si" instead of "ti" for the seventh, and there's something about having two "S" syllables (si and sol) that makes it a lot more difficult because you can then mix them up. Shouldn't necessarily happen, but it does. Much better to use "ti" and retain the contrasting percussive consonants D R M F S L T. Normally when people have had training in a certain method they become advocates for it, but all it did in my case was make me hate it, and bang the drum loudly in favour of movable-doh.

Anyway, finally got out of school, all grown up now, don't have to do that anymore, right? Except: In continental European scores, harp pedalling is often written in fixed solfege, so instead of Bb or C# etc we get Sib and Do#.

D'OH !!!!!!


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Peace
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 05:59 AM

No mention of the lymph modes.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 07:18 AM

Peace wrote: "No mention of the lymph modes."

They're very important for learning to play scales fluidly.

Sheet music for French chansons often use "Do", "Si", etc. for the chords. I found I got used to them fairly quickly. Thank goodness for "`Do' a Deer" (an otherwise extremely annoying song).

I always wanted to play the harp. Sadly, out of my price range at present.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 08:30 AM

And we haven't even got on to the argument (it did get discussed here before) whether "Mixolydian A" is the Mixolydian scale that starts on the A note or the one that is in the key of A.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 10:45 AM

John Kirkpatrick is doing an all-day workshop on modes for any instrument at the Lewes Arms on Saturday 25th. October. Full details and a booking form will be on the club website www.lewesarmsfolkclub.org soon.

John performs at the Lewes Arms in the evening.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: GUEST,Jack Campin (on a cookieless computer)
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 01:49 PM

What I had in mind with that comment on the tuning system and do-re-mi mode naming was something a bit different.

In 12-tone equal temperament this is not an issue.

But suppose we're constructing a white-note scale based on C in Pythagorean intonation. Then both the intervals C to D and D to E have the ratio 9:8, so the first step in the Dorian scale will be the same as the second step in major.

In just intonation that isn't true. That interval will be 9/8 in one and 10/9 in the other. So, when you're constructing your mi-mode (Phrygian), your tonal centre "mi" could be two different pitches, and you will get microtonally different interval patterns depending on whether you see it as a rotation of major, a rotation of Dorian, or build it from scratch.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 02:20 PM

People tend to make modes far more complex than they really are.

My first encounter with modes was in a series of articles on music theory as it applies to the guitar in The Guitar Review, a very high quality magazine put out maybe once or twice a year by the New York Classic Guitar Society. The article on modes was clear and concise (the series came out in the the mid-1950s, but I may still have my copies of it around). One article in the series started by explaining the structure of the major scale, then went on to show how the minor scales and its three variations, natural, harmonic, and melodic, differed from the major scale and from each other. The following article did the same thing, but this time with the modes. I added modes to my regular scale practice.

Although the article commented that modes were never harmonized, at least in the modern sense of the word, I figured "why not?" and proceeded to build chords on the notes of the modal scales. Nothing unusual. Just regular major and minor chords. But I came up with some very interesting combinations of chords.

I have a friend who sings with a medieval choir, and every now and then they hold workshops on medieval music, mainly so those in the choir know what they are doing. The word "modal" kept coming up in rehearsals and in the workshops. She mentioned to me that she wished they would hold a workshop on modes. I said, "Well, it's not very complicated. I can explain modes to you in about a half-hour."

"Oh, no!" she insisted. "It's complicated!"

I tried to show her that it wasn't, but she would have none of it. "It's too complicated It can't be as simple as you say it is!"

She approached the choir director and suggested that they hold a workshop on modes. The choir director told her, "It's not very complicated. I can explain modes to you in about a half-hour."

She's very frustrated. She still doesn't understand modes. She's convinced that they're at least as complex as quantum physics and she refuses to believe that if she'd just shut her mouth and listen, she could learn all about modes in about half an hour.

But it probably is a good idea to conduct a workshop on the subject and see if the idea that modes are beyond human comprehension can be dispelled.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: GUEST,Glenn Miller
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 03:22 PM

"In the Mode".


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 05:20 PM

The original question was 'But why have these names [Ionian, Dorian, etc] persisted? Has anyone ever come up with a serious attempt at renamimg them?'

I play many kinds of music, including early music. Very rarely do I come across a tune which is actually modal, even from the 1500's or 1600's. A tune might seem to be modal, but in the end it reverts to the tonic.

By a modal song I mean one which starts on a note which is not the tonic of the scale. Its highest note would be the starting note (up an octave) and its last, resolving note would be the same as the starting note. In a more restrained tune, the highest note would probably just be the fifth of the modal scale. One such tune is 'Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland,' a little-heard Christmas song which I believe was once Gregorian chant.

I was in an early-music workshop once where we did a haunting song in the Phrygian mode. It was from the 1200's.

So nobody has bothered to rename the modes because the modes are of no real use in learning modern music. Perhaps in the middle ages, when unlearned men had to master scads of Gregorian chants in short order, the modes were helpful. Today they are fun to explore, but not worth renaming.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 06:56 PM

"By a modal song I mean one which starts on a note which is not the tonic of the scale."

A rather simplistic view, not usually correct...


"She still doesn't understand modes. She's convinced that they're at least as complex as quantum physics and she refuses to believe that if she'd just shut her mouth and listen, she could learn all about modes in about half an hour."

Ah Don - there's just so many of them out there...


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 07:03 PM

Don's friend seems to have survived without ever getting that workshop on modes. Which gives you an idea of how important they are, at least in this context.

However, and I hesitate to bring this up, because it's been beaten to death in this forum before, True modes are not simply scales, they are theoretical musical systems with lots of other elements, most of which cannot be explained in thirty minutes.

If you study Greek,Turkish, Arabic, Armenian, Persian, or related music, you must learn about modes and the rules that govern their use--when you are playing Western music, with tempered western scales, modes are not generally an issue. Even in folk music, it is pretty much up for grabs whether tunes is in, say, a Lydian mode, or whether it simply uses a scale with a raised fourth step.

As to using a "Locrian mode" to improvise over a half diminished chord, is that REALLY a Locrian mode, or is it just a dominant scale? In any case, you can use a Locrian scale(B--D-E-F-G-A-B-) to improvise over a plain vanilla G7 chord, or over an Em7-Fmaj7 vamp.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 07:13 PM

"If you study Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Armenian, Persian, [Indian] or related music, you must learn about modes and the rules that govern their use--when you are playing Western music, with tempered western scales, modes are not generally an issue"

I think I'll get a rubber stamp made up with that - for use on foreheads of 'certain people' - made in reverse so that they can read it first thing each morning... :-)


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 02:46 AM

M.Ted wrote:
"As to using a "Locrian mode" to improvise over a half diminished chord, is that REALLY a Locrian mode, or is it just a dominant scale?"

I would say "no", because to me a "dominant scale" would be one containing the dominant seventh chord which has a major third.

M.Ted wrote:
"In any case, you can use a Locrian scale(B--D-E-F-G-A-B-) to improvise over a plain vanilla G7 chord, or over an Em7-Fmaj7 vamp."

Of course one could. One could also just think of it as the C major scale, the D Dorian mode, the E Phrygian mode, etc., since the notes are the same. I _practice_ scales and might theoretically practice modes (except I never do, though I might start someday), but never actually think of scales or modes when improvising, but rather play by ear. If I try to think of scales or modes when improvising, it always sounds like an exercise.

Just like when I makes tea, I makes tea, and when I makes water, I makes water.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: pavane
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 03:03 AM

We could always discuss the time of the "wandering dominant", which is why there is a theoretical difference between Ionian and Major?
In the Major, the dominant is always the 5th, but that wasn't always true for Ionian.


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Subject: RE: The Naming of Modes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 06:49 AM

It's always useful to know what pitches occur in a tune and what its tonal centre is. For the heptatonic modes we think of as coming from chant (they don't, exactly) , that can be learned very quickly, as Don says.

The gapped modes (specific to folk music, you don't get them in mediaeval chant) give you a *lot* more information, which is particularly useful for players of diatonic instruments. They take a bit longer to understand, but for something that's getting more results you'd expect that.

"In the Major, the dominant is always the 5th, but that wasn't always true for Ionian. "

Example? When did anyone ever do chant in Ionian?


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