How to use modes in music

A mode is a type of scale, and you probably already know at least two - the major scale is known as Ionian mode in mode-speak, while the natural minor scale is known as Aeolian mode. But what notes do we use to build them? Essentially, the thing that determines one mode from another is the pattern of intervals between the notes. An easy way to generate all seven major scale modes is to start with the scale of C major.

Play this as you normally would, from C to C on the keyboard, and you get the Ionian mode. Playing the notes in the C major scale from D to D results in the Dorian mode, E to E gives you Phrygian mode, and so on, as illustrated in the chart below. Broadly speaking, the modes can be split into two main categories — major modes and minor modes - depending on whether they contain a major or minor 3rd, and each mode has a particular type of chord that it can be used over the top of for best results.

Lydian Dominant is a great alternative to Mixolydian when used over dominant 7th chords, and can also be used over standard major triads as long as you avoid playing the major 7th over it! What differentiates a mode is what differentiates any other scale - the pattern of intervals between the notes. What is the circle of fifths, and how can it help with your music theory? All other six modes contain a natural 5th, so the dark, tricky-to-use Locrian is a bit of a black sheep. Each mode has its own identity and tone, and they can be listed from happy to moody.

If you want a mode to suit a particular mood or convey a certain emotion, use this order of brightness as your guide. MusicRadar The No. Image credit: Future Broadly speaking, the modes can be split into two main categories — major modes and minor modes - depending on whether they contain a major or minor 3rd, and each mode has a particular type of chord that it can be used over the top of for best results.

How to Make Music Modes from Major Scales

Mode Mode What differentiates a mode is what differentiates any other scale - the pattern of intervals between the notes. Don't miss Image credit: Future.In the Key Signatures tutorial, I mentioned the whole and half step pattern of a major scale and how that relates to key signature changes. In this tutorial, we will discuss modes and how that pattern changes with the modes. Each mode starts on a different scale degree of the major scale.

how to use modes in music

Starting on the 1st scale degree, this mode is the same as a major scale. For ear training purposes, think of this mode as a natural minor scale with a raised 6th. Think of this mode as a natural minor scale with a flatted 2nd.

For ear training purposes, think of this scale as a major scale with a raised 4th. Think of this as a major scale with a flatted 7th. The aeolian scale begins on the 6th scale degree of the major scale and is also known as a natural minor scale. This mode starts on the 7th scale degree of a major scale. For ear training purposes, think of it as starting and ending on the leading tone of a major scale. Ionian Starting on the 1st scale degree, this mode is the same as a major scale.

Aeolian The aeolian scale begins on the 6th scale degree of the major scale and is also known as a natural minor scale. Locrian This mode starts on the 7th scale degree of a major scale. Start Modes Quiz.The term modes in music describes the scales which dominated European music for over 1, years up until and continued to be heavily influential for another years after that.

They originated in ancient Greece where modes were named after different regions — this is why all the modes still have Greek names to this day. Modes can be understood with reference to the white notes on a pianowhich broadly correspond to the scale calculated scientifically in the 4th century BC by Pythagoras and the Greek thinkers of his time.

Dorian mode. Now, if we play a scale using the white notes, but this time starting on C and ending on the C above it then we are playing the Ionian Mode.

how to use modes in music

Ionian Mode. Can you also hear how the sound of the Ionian Mode is very different to the Dorian mode? The early Christian Church were heavily influenced by the Greeks and adopted modes as a basis for its music.

Have a listen to this piece of plainchant called Ubi Caritaswhich is based upon a mode:. The use of modes developed and by the 5th century four modes were adopted, called the Authentic Modes. Three Additional Authentic Modes Henricus Glareanusa Swiss monk produced a book called Dodecachordan in in which he highlighted the subsequent addition of two more authentic modes Aeolian and Ionian. Subsequently, another authentic mode Locrian mode was added towards the end of the 18th century, bringing the total to seven authentic modes: IX.

When studying the music theory of modes and their use in music we tend to focus on the seven authentic modes outlined above — the six authentic modes highlighted by Glareanus with the addition of a seventh mode, the Locrian mode.

During the papacy of Pope Gregory four more modes were added called Plagal modes. Each plagal mode is developed from a related authentic mode. For example, the Hypodorian mode is linked to the Dorian mode.

As with authentic modes, there were originally 4 plagal modes in the 5th century, but 2 more were added by Glareanus and a 7th by the end of the 18th century.

The above diagram shows the full list of fourteen music modes seven authentic modes and seven plagal modes. Final — this is the note shaded in red on the diagram on which the melody usually ends and is the note upon which the mode is based. Cofinal — this note shaded in green is an alternative resting point of the melody.

Whilst it is helpful to learn about modes by using the white notes on a keyboard it is really important to understand that the difference in modes is not based on what white note it starts on, but is based on the intervals of the scale.

This means that we can transpose the modes and play them starting on any note as long as we keep the intervals between the notes the same. The starting note is differentbut the intervals between the notes of the mode remain the same. The dominance of music modes faded away as harmonised music using the major and minor scales developed.Music modes are basically just a major scale in a different position.

At least that's an easy way to learn them. They can be used to write songs with a different 'flavor' or 'feel' to them. When writers use a lydian mode, the song usually has an anxious sense of excitement.

When they use a dorian or aeolian mode, they are usually trying to invoke some kind of heaviness or solemnity. The feel really depends on the melody; these are just generalizations. When we shift a major scale into different positions, we get different modes. Check out these articles to read more about where music modes come from. Intermediate Modes In this article, we cover how to move a major scale into different modes.

We'll talk about each of the seven modes and their names. Practice these by moving a major scale up by one scale degree each time. Advanced Modes In this lesson we'll talk about how to apply the different modes on the same key. This way instead of having the same scale in seven positions, we have seven individual sounding scales. This means you'll have to memorize the different modes' formulas. Home Welcome Where to Start? Sign up for the newsletter!

First Name optional. I am at least 16 years of age. I have read and accept the privacy policy. I understand that you will use my information to send me a newsletter.As if learning all of the major scales and minor scales with their natural, harmonic, and melodic variants wasn't enough, when you finally bump into the concept of music modes about all you can do is throw your hands up in exasperation.

It's undoubtedly a confusing barrier to songwriters looking to expand their music theory repertoire, but today we make it easy with Musical Modes Explained It's easy to run into musical modes and think, "What the heck is going on?

Why does all of this need to be so convoluted and complicated? It does seem that way at first until you work with modes enough to spot the pattern. Then not only does it click into place but you can even work your way through it in your head! The pattern makes it extremely simple to follow And that's what we're here to show you today.

You have experience with scales and chords at this point and maybe even have gone on the Circle of Fifths journey another pattern you should know. We'll do a quick overview of scales and how they are built so we can lead right into modes, which are only slight variations of scales!

If you think of it in this manner, then it makes plenty of sense. For some odd reason everyone likes to explain modes based on the number of half-steps between notes, but who can sit there and count semitones when the band calls out a certain song in a certain key and mode?

Nobody, and that's not how they think about it either. There's no reason to make this harder than it has to be, so forget the rest and get ready for the best explanation you'll find about musical modes. We're all used to the major and minor scales as listeners, songwriters, and music theorists They are so common and conventional that they hardly inspire us even with the most unique chord progressions.

This has happened because not enough people understand modes well enough for them to be used widely! Modern modes are built on the major scale with one fundamental difference that makes them a renewed sense of freshness There are lots of other types of modes you don't need to worry about just yet.

With our simple explanation you can capture your listener's imagination and intrigue easily with the modern Western kind. The hardest part is remembering the names of the modes! But we'll get to that in a second. First the basic building blocks need to be laid out. Let me preface by saying that, yes, minor scales also have modes but they behave the same as the ones based on the major scale, which is vastly easier to understand especially when C-Major is used as the example which we will be doing.

Every scale is made up of seven notes that start from the tonic and climb upward. When you hit the eighth scale degree you're back to the tonic and have climbed on octave. All Western scales and modes are all built from the white-key only diatonic scale of six perfect fifths also known as C-Major.

The type of scale or mode is determined by the sequence of intervals between the notes in the scale. The letters refer to either whole steps or tones and half-steps or semitones. So with C-Major, which includes no flats or sharps, it looks like this:. As you can see, things are very simple in C-Major with a tonic of C and no accents. Let's build the modes off of C-Major first to wrap our heads around the process.

There are seven modes available to you in modern Western music.

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Why seven? Because each mode is based on each note of a scale as the new tonic!In the theory of Western musica mode is a type of musical scale coupled with a set of characteristic melodic behaviors. Musical modes have been a part of western musical thought since the Middle Ages, and were inspired by the theory of ancient Greek music. The name mode derives from the Latin word modus"measure, standard, manner, way, size, limit of quantity, method" PowersIntroduction; OED.

Modes: What are they and how do I use them?

Regarding the concept of mode as applied to pitch relationships generally, Harold S. This synthesis between tonus as a church tone and the older meaning associated with an octave species was done by medieval theorists for the Western monodic plainchant tradition see Hucbald and Aurelian.

Musicologists generally assume that Carolingian theorists imported monastic Octoechos propagated in the patriarchates of Jerusalem Mar Saba and Constantinople Stoudios Monasterywhich meant the eight echoi they used for the composition of hymns e.

The concept is also heavily used with regard to Western polyphony before the onset of the common practice periodas for example "modale Mehrstimmigkeit" by Carl Dahlhaus Dahlhauset passim or "Tonarten" of the 16th and 17th centuries found by Bernhard Meier Meier ; Meier The word encompasses several additional meanings, however. Authors from the 9th century until the early 18th century e. In the theory of late-medieval mensural polyphony e.

how to use modes in music

A musical scale is a series of pitches in a distinct order. The concept of "mode" in Western music theory has three successive stages: in Gregorian chant theory, in Renaissance polyphonic theory, and in tonal harmonic music of the common practice period.

In all three contexts, "mode" incorporates the idea of the diatonic scalebut differs from it by also involving an element of melody type. This concerns particular repertories of short musical figures or groups of tones within a certain scale so that, depending on the point of view, mode takes on the meaning of either a "particularized scale" or a "generalized tune". By the early 19th century, the word "mode" had taken on an additional meaning, in reference to the difference between major and minor keysspecified as " major mode " and " minor mode ".

Early Greek treatises describe three interrelated concepts that are related to the later, medieval idea of "mode": 1 scales or "systems"2 tonos —pl. The Greek scales in the Aristoxenian tradition were Barbera; Mathiesen a6 iii d :. These names are derived from an Ancient Greek subgroup Doriansa small region in central Greece Locrisand certain neighboring peoples non-Greek but related to them from Asia Minor LydiaPhrygia.

The association of these ethnic names with the octave species appears to precede Aristoxenuswho criticized their application to the tonoi by the earlier theorists whom he called the "Harmonicists" Mathiesen a6 iii d. Depending on the positioning spacing of the interposed tones in the tetrachordsthree genera of the seven octave species can be recognized. The diatonic genus composed of tones and semitonesthe chromatic genus semitones and a minor thirdand the enharmonic genus with a major third and two quarter tones or dieses Cleonides35— The framing interval of the perfect fourth is fixed, while the two internal pitches are movable.

Within the basic forms, the intervals of the chromatic and diatonic genera were varied further by three and two "shades" chroairespectively Cleonides39—40; Mathiesen a6 iii c. In contrast to the medieval modal system, these scales and their related tonoi and harmoniai appear to have had no hierarchical relationships amongst the notes that could establish contrasting points of tension and rest, although the mese "middle note" may have had some sort of gravitational function Palisca The term tonos pl.

We use it of the region of the voice whenever we speak of Dorian, or Phrygian, or Lydian, or any of the other tones" Cleonides Cleonides attributes thirteen tonoi to Aristoxenus, which represent a progressive transposition of the entire system or scale by semitone over the range of an octave between the Hypodorian and the Hypermixolydian Mathiesen a6 iii e.

Aristoxenus's transpositional tonoiaccording to Cleonides44were named analogously to the octave species, supplemented with new terms to raise the number of degrees from seven to thirteen. Ptolemyin his Harmonicsii.Music modes are a highly sought after topic among people wanting to learn music theory. Most people don't even know exactly what a mode is. They seem intimidated by it all because it sounds like a complex system of codes that only the music theory elite can decipher.

Well guess what: you can be one of those elite because I'm going to show you how easy they are to decipher. Most everybody is familiar with the concept of modes, they just don't know it. Let's say you have a blender. If it's like most blenders, it has several buttons on it.

These buttons control which mode the blender is in. When you have it in one mode, it performs one way, and when you have it in another mode, it performs in another way. Either way though, it still does the same basic thing: it blends. A clothes dryer has several modes, but they all dry your clothes in one way or another. Music modes are just scales. They are scales that perform in different ways, but just as a blender is basically something that blends, a mode is basically a scale. Obviously there is more to it than this or we would just call them scales.

A mode is like a scale in a different position. Let's take a C scale. When we play it starting on C, it's just like any other major scale. However, when we play it starting on it's second scale degree, D, it is in a D mode. It is essentially still a C scale at heart, but it's in a D mode; specifically a D Dorian mode. When we play that C scale starting on an F note, we call it an F Lydian mode.

These names come from the scale degree that the mode starts on. So when you start on a second, its a Dorian mode. Here's a list of the names depending on what scale degree they start on. R - Ionian Yes, it actually has a name. So let's say you wanted to find an E Dorian mode. How would you do that? First we can find what scale degree a dorian mode starts on: it's the second. From there you ask, "What major scale has E as the second? So take a D major scale:.

So what about an F Aeolian mode? First, what is Aeolian? It's the 6th mode. So what major scale has F as the sixth? It's A. So take an A scale:.


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