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Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?

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Peter T. 15 Jul 03 - 08:10 PM
curmudgeon 15 Jul 03 - 08:36 PM
marthabees 15 Jul 03 - 09:00 PM
curmudgeon 15 Jul 03 - 09:06 PM
Peter T. 15 Jul 03 - 09:10 PM
marthabees 15 Jul 03 - 09:17 PM
marthabees 15 Jul 03 - 09:37 PM
Peter T. 15 Jul 03 - 09:54 PM
greg stephens 16 Jul 03 - 02:06 AM
Helen 16 Jul 03 - 02:19 AM
Helen 16 Jul 03 - 02:39 AM
Peter T. 16 Jul 03 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,leeneia 16 Jul 03 - 10:37 AM
curmudgeon 16 Jul 03 - 10:58 AM
Amos 16 Jul 03 - 11:07 AM
MMario 16 Jul 03 - 11:18 AM
M.Ted 16 Jul 03 - 11:57 AM
KateG 16 Jul 03 - 02:42 PM
Dave Swan 16 Jul 03 - 03:05 PM
Peter T. 16 Jul 03 - 03:44 PM
Mark Clark 17 Jul 03 - 12:57 PM
Peter T. 17 Jul 03 - 01:33 PM
M.Ted 17 Jul 03 - 01:36 PM
Mark Clark 17 Jul 03 - 01:47 PM
Mary in Kentucky 17 Jul 03 - 02:03 PM
DADGBE 17 Jul 03 - 03:02 PM
Peter T. 17 Jul 03 - 04:25 PM
Frankham 17 Jul 03 - 10:10 PM
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Subject: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 08:10 PM

I have noticed that there are a number of songs, of which two that come to mind are "She Moved Through the Fair" and the pseudo-folksong music of "The Great Silkie", where the song is in one key (say D) and immediately after the opening the song goes down 2 notes to the next "major key" down (say C) and then wanders back and forth, or goes back up to the original key. Somebody asked me about this the other day, and relying on my vast Mudcat modal knowledge, I said that I thought this might be a Dorian or Mixolydian thing; but I was talking out of my hat. Is this little phenomenon at the beginning of a song a tipoff to some specific mode?

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 08:36 PM

Hi Peter -- What you are describing is the "mixolydian" mode, usually referred to as "modal." Most folk songs called "minor" are in the "Dorian" mode. Major keys are "aeolian."

The simplest way to view them is thus:

Find a piano keyboard and pretend that there are no black keys. Play a full octave scale starting on "C." This is the aeolian mode.

Play a full octave scale starting on "D," no black keys, remember. This is the dorian mode.

Do the same thing starting on G and you will get the mixolydian mode.

Lloyd explains all of this rather nicely in "Folk Song In England."

Of course, just because a song is in a particular mode does not preclude the occasional use of a note that is not in the mode. Still, it's all rather fun -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: marthabees
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 09:00 PM

I can help out with this question.

There are 7 modes - they all sound different. If you use just the piano white keys, you will find that they go like this:
from C to C: Ionian mode. Eventually settled into what we call "Major"

from D-D: dorian mode. Has a minor sound, but it has a whole step between the 7th and 8th pitches (c to d). If it were aeolian mode, it would have a c# instead of a c natural.
from E to E: phyrgian mode: minor sounding but characterized by the 1/2 step between the 1st and 2nd notes (e to f).


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 09:06 PM

Thanks for the correction marthabees. Read, in my post, "ionian" for "aeolian."

Greek adjectives describe too many things -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 09:10 PM

Yes, yes, I know all that -- I started the Modes for Mudcatters thread -- what I want to know is if this little wrinkle is characteristic of one of the modes. yours, Peter T. (P.S. I am just reading Lloyd's book, what a pleasure!!)


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: marthabees
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 09:17 PM

Sorry- pressed the wrong button and the message got sent before I was done.

Phyrgian is pronounced: frij-ee-un, btw.

from F to F all white keys: lydian mode. Major sounding except the 4th pitch is a 1/2 higher than true major/Ionian. So you'd have a b natural instead of a b flat. A bit odd sounding for most of our ears.

from G to G: mixolydian mode. Sounds like major except for the flatted 7th, an f natural instead of an f sharp. Ol' Joe Clark leaps to mind. Very popular in old-time music.

from A to A: aeolian mode. What we call nowadays, minor. Actually, natural minor because there are some alternate minor keys.

from B to B: locrian mode. Rarely used cuz it just plain sounds wierd.

The modes were used in ecclesiastical music in the Middle Ages. They are also called the church modes.

To put too fine a point on it: major and minor are types of modes called ionian and aeolian, respectively. Since the middle ages, we've gradually lost the preference for the wonderful variation created by the modal tonalities and have ended up settling almost exclusively on major and minor. I think one of the reasons we love some of those old ballads so it that they are NOT major/minor but rather modal.

BTW: you can do the little progression you were talking about it in more than one mode. It works very well in aeolian (like an a minor to G major shift) too.

If you were a harper with a natural harp (no way to change the strings up and down a half-step like some can nowadays) you would almost certainly end up playing modally. It would be just like using only white keys on a piano. That explains to my satisfaction why so much Irish-type music has an interesting harmonic flavor.

This is probably more information than anybody wanted to know.....
Martha in Tallahassee


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: marthabees
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 09:37 PM

Peter T -

I finished posting that second part before I read your comment about the other thread..

I was just trying to be helpful and I wasn't aware of the thread you cited.

Sorry that I went on and on - your modal primer is great.
What a resource!

Martha


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 09:54 PM

No problem, Martha, but can you answer my question -- what mode are we in when a song like that happens?

yours,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 02:06 AM

This D to C type structure for a song is often called "the double tonic". Tonic is the word for the first note of the scale, it's not a bad name. These tunes are typically in the Mixolydian mode(major key with a flat seventh). Similar structure often occurs in a minor key, when a phrse in say D minor opens a tune and is then repeatedBut with a major third) on C, a tone below.
    I've no idea who started using the phrase "double tonic", but it's now often used. The trick is often used for pastiche Scottish pipe music of a humorous kind: it's quite a cliche of northern English and Scottish traditional dance music.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Helen
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 02:19 AM

I know what you mean about The Great Silkie. My sister and I play it in a mini-medley with a tune in A minor, but TGS doesn't require me to flip any levers on the Celtic harp because the notes are all natural, i.e. no sharps or flats. So it starts and ends on a G. According to marthabees' info then it would be mixolydian, wouldn't it? (Not that I know very much about modes, really.)

Dang-it, I hate it when I have to go find info in hard copy. I thought I was weaned off using them ol' fashioned books 'n' such!

In the book where I found the melody line which we use as the basis for our rendition, it is actually there in black and white on a page right after She Moved Through the Fair, under the heading of .....TaDa!...... Mixolydian Mode. The book is by Sylvia Woods called Music Theory and Arranging Techniques for Folk Harps. 1987. The other tune she uses as an example in this mode is called On Board the Kangaroo. (With reference to another current thread: Must be a mighty big kangaroo if people can get on board.)

Helen


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Helen
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 02:39 AM

Peter,

I don't see that those two songs do change to the full note below. The versions I have are the melodies and chords reduced to the absolute simplest, and the chords in my version of The Great Silkie, which starts and ends on G, are the chords that would be used for a tune in C Major i.e. C, F, G, except that the starting and ending chords are G instead of C. So it follows the mixolydian mode as I see it. The same things can be said of the version of She Moved Through the Fair. It's more like the common chord progression throughout each tune has been inverted due to the mode.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 08:46 AM

Thanks, this helps -- like the double tonic idea as well.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 10:37 AM

I just sat here at my piano keyboard and sounded out The Great Silkie and She Moved through the Fair, choosing a D as my starting note. Both tunes start and end on the note D. The only black note used is an F#.

Therefore, they are in the key of G, and they are in the Mixolydian mode, the mode based on the fifth note of the scale.

Although the songs would be accompanied by the chord D, the key of D has nothing to do with them, because they don't use C#, a note that D never leaves home without.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 10:58 AM

Except, leeneia, when you're in the Dorian mode. The Blackleg Miner, for example, only requires a Dm and a C major chord for accompaniment. The Derby Ram uses the same, but with an F chord at the beginning of the chorus. All three of these chords are both normal and natural in this mode -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 11:07 AM

I have always used the relative minor and the relative minor dominant in "Silky" -- such as G F Em and Bm, for example. I don't know what this does to the formal definitions. But I consider it basically to be in G with the seventh chord of F thrown in. I am far to oignorant to make a fine judgement about the class of scale this involves.

A


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: MMario
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 11:18 AM

Huh?


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 11:57 AM

Peter, what is is with you? All you ever think about is modes;-)

Modal music tends favor that full step drop, in fact, the turkish Saz has, in addition to the melody and drone strings, a string that is tuned a full step below the melody string so you can bop down a step without moving your hand----(It get's a bit dicey when the you are up the neck on one of the quartertones(well, actually more of a 2/9ths tone, but that is another discussion entirely) and the "drop" note is not in the mode you are in)--

If you want to understand modal music a little better, check out the bagpipes or the Appalachian dulcimer, which are modal instruments--The scale is irregular--which means that some of the half and whole steps in the scale are bigger than others, and for harmony, you have drone notes, which do not change(as diatonic chords do) to accomodate the melody note-Which means that some times your hear a nice thirds and fifth and sixth intervals, and sometimes you hear not quite so sweet a second or seventh or fourth intervals--

You either like the sound, or you don't, and a long time ago, the people that didn't like it got together and dumped the drones, re-tuned the instruments so the intervals were even, and wrote everything so it was harmonized in major or minor chords--

Anyway, back to my point(if I had one)--The way to create interest in modal music is to repeat a melodic phrase starting on a different note of the scale--(this is called changing the tone center)--Though this seems simple enough, it offers a lot of surprising possibilities, First, because the intervals are irregular and nature of the melody changes, and second, because the of the different sorts of tension that each tone center creates against the constant drone--


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: KateG
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 02:42 PM

Guest, leeneia wrote:

"I just sat here at my piano keyboard and sounded out The Great Silkie and She Moved through the Fair, choosing a D as my starting note. Both tunes start and end on the note D. The only black note used is an F#. Therefore, they are in the key of G, and they are in the Mixolydian mode, the mode based on the fifth note of the scale. Although the songs would be accompanied by the chord D, the key of D has nothing to do with them, because they don't use C#, a note that D never leaves home without."

She's right about the songs being in the Mixolydian mode, but wrong about the key. If D is the hometone, then D is the key. However, the SCALE is mixolydian, so there is no C#. A mode is a scale -- a pattern of whole & half steps, nothing more, nothing less. D Major has two sharps (F# & C#), D minor has 1 flat (Bb), D mixolydian has one sharp (F#), etc.

With the folk songs that have a home tone at odds with the key signature, the trick is to look at the pattern of steps. In addition to the Mixolydian mode (which looks like its missing one accidental), minor-y sounding trad songs alternate between the Dorian and Aeolian. If it looks like it's in the right key, then its probably Aeolian, if not, it's probably Dorian. Take up the dulcimer, and you'll soon have your modes down pat.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Dave Swan
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 03:05 PM

Peter, a double tonic? That's not the way one orders it. No wonder you're always two drinks behind.

Remember to ask Pam this question next time you see her. She trained for all this stuff classically and is able to relate it easily to trad examples. Often it's over my head but no doubt, being taller than I, you'll catch her every word.

See you soon,
D


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 03:44 PM

Yeah, Dave, and you can sing the damn things. I knew there was a reason I wasn't getting these -- but it is three drinks behind in my case.... yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 12:57 PM

Reading this fascinating thread put me instantly in mind of a song I've sung for many years called Rain Sleet and Snow, a variant of Cold Rain and Snow.

The song is in D-modal (D-mixolydian), not G. Lacking a C# note doesn't keep the song from being in the key of D. The song is mixolydian because, as curmudgeon pointed out on July 15 at 8:36 PM, the scale begins on the fifth note of the reference scale, the scale containing all the notes of the tune. In this case, that is the G scale but the key isn't called G-modal, it's D-modal because the tonic note is D. You can lay out the G scale to make it easier to see:
G A B C D E F# G A B C D E F# G …
The D-mixolydian scale you get is identical to a standard D Maj diatonic scale with the exception that the seventh is flatted. Because the seventh note is always flat, you can play a VII chord which introduces the I-VII chord pattern characteristic of this mode. You aren't going to play a V (dominant) chord because it contains the major seventh (of your tonic key, D-modal) but you can play a V minor chord and stay within the mixolydian scale. A IV chord can theoretically fit without modification.

When I write such tunes on paper, I designate the key as D and note an accidental for the C natural. I have no idea whether this is correct in academic circles. One could make the argument that the key signature should contain only the F# but that would make the key nominally G Maj which I think would only confuse the player—at least players like me. <g>

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:33 PM

What is the VII chord? Is it a basic C chord, a C7th chord, or what?

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: M.Ted
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:36 PM

It would be OK to put the F# in th key signature, because the F# is also the key signature for D mixolydian scale, just the same as it is \ the key signature for E minor--it is also OK to write it as an accidental--whatever works out best for the reader--


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:47 PM

Peter, The VII chord in D-modal is a C Maj chord. If you used a C7 you'd introduce a Bb/A# which probably wouldn't sound right. The point is to construct your chords from the notes in the D-mixolydian scale.

M.Ted, Thanks, I was hoping someone properly grounded in theory would come by and straighten me out.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 02:03 PM

Peter, I'm not sure if we have an answer here yet...at least one in words I can understand. ;-) If I understand your question correctly, it's the same one I've asked here several times.....still no answer other than possibly this double tonic thing or as M.Ted stated, modal music seems to favor that full step drop.

In "The Great Silkie" and "She Moved Through the Fair" I hear a D major to C major change. I've always liked the d minor to C major change in "Greensleeves" and "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor."

I call this "The English Sound" because of Greensleeves and (I think) many of Ralph Vaughan Williams compositions (many taken from English folk tunes) have this sound.

I'm still paying attention to what I learned in your Modes for Mudcatters, and I'm still learning to play my dulcimer. I think I've always loved modal music (I'm a Dorian myself); that's why I like old bagpipe tunes, Appalachian tunes, and Early American hymns.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: DADGBE
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 03:02 PM

Hi Peter T.

I think that you'll find that any type of song which uses the D-to-C or Dm-to-C chord treatment will have a whole step between the 7th and 8th tones of its scale. Be it called Myxolydian, Dorian or the mode my uncle Harry uses when he singes in the shower, this seems to hold true.

VII refers to a chord built on the seventh note of the scale: a C# chord in the case of the standard D scale. Once you're using any scale where that afore mentioned whole step comes up, the VII chord would be C.

If that hasn't confused you sufficiently, let me know and try to make things more difficult for you.

Best,
Ray


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 04:25 PM

Well, I don't know, Ray, in the more general case, it could be a C diminished, a Cmajor 7, a Cminor.

But I am mostly happy and exhausted, my thick skull is penetrated.

Thanks to all.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory Mavens: D down to C, etc.?
From: Frankham
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 10:10 PM

Peter,

I think that the myxolydian mode is defined by the chord implications of the melody. The Irish keening songs tend toward this mode. The chords that you would customarilly use would naturally be a I chord and a bVII chord. You can use as Amos has pointed out the relative minors of these two chords. D (I) C (bVII) Bm (VIm of D) and Am (VIm of C).

I believe the harmonic implications of a folk song define it's modality even though the melody might not be harmonized. The musical implications are there though.

Frank Hamilton


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