We have now listened to seven variants of modal melody.
Each does sound different.
Perhaps in listening to each, starting at Lydian and moving towards Locrian, there is a sense of the mood of the melody changing. Ordering the modes from Lydian to Locrian has us moving anticlockwise around the Circle of Fifths, around the colour wheel. It also sees one new note lowered by a semitone (flattened) with each rotation. And many musical descriptions will describe this as moving from the brightest mode to the darkest mode. Somehow, it seems, flats being a sombre and foreboding character to the music.
Lydian – no flats, one sharp – bright.
Locrian – lots of flat notes – dark.
That is not really a meaningful why / how explanation, but I shall just place it there for the moment.
What I would like to do next is to categorise our modes in to two groups of three and discard one altogether.
The two groups of three are the major types and the minor types.
Ionian (THE major scale);
Aeolian (THE minor scale);
Remember, major type scales have a major third and minor type scales have a minor third.
So much music makes use of Ionian and Aeolian that our ears are accustomed to hearing those sounds. There is probably value in hearing the same modal melodies side-by-side in order to hear the subtle differences, the nuances in sound a little more clearly.
I have deliberately chosen to start with, then move away from, then move back to Ionian and Aeolian as those are – supposedly – the ones our ears are most accustomed to. This sequencing may allow you to hear the divergence from the commonly used major and minor modes.
For this two part quiz, I have created a ‘major mode’ audio track and a ‘minor mode’ audio track. There are ten modal melodies in each. So there are ten questions - ten modes to identify by ear.
You should now be very familiar with the modal melody above. I have taken just the first half of the melody for each mode and randomly copy / pasted them into a new track. Each segment lasts approximately ten seconds and they are separated by four chimes of C. The entire tracks are both 2 minutes 17 seconds in length. The change in modes comes at you quite quickly so you may want to listen through more than once.
In a coming instalment I am going to reveal how I have been misleading you all - just slightly, just a tiny little bit - by focusing only on melodies, melodies with no harmonic context. No chords, no chordal framework within which the melodies exist and operate. The big deal with modes is harmony and melody. In order to explore those two things together we will explore the chords associated with each mode, the function of those chords, the chords that reveal the unique nature of each mode and the crucial notes - often called colour tones or flavour notes - that set them apart from each other sonically.
See you there.
In the meantime …
Good to see this back but will need to let my ears settle down and revisit the modes one at a time. A mainly Southern Rock Mixo Dorian fest/overdose last night has certainly clouded my hearing but I will return and maybe dust down the examples I wrote last year.
Modal Mojo Magic.
terrible, bombed. 3/10 & 2/10. why ??? I look ahead and see, no harmonic framing. I’m getting why now, when playing a modal progression with too many chords it just starts to sound like Ionian or Aeolian. Harmonic center, framing.