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#1034952 - 11/08/04 07:20 PM Scales and Modes
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC

What is the difference between a scale and a mode, or are they one and the same thing? If this is the case, why bother with two names instead of one?

Thank you.
Progressing, slowly, but progressing.

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#1034953 - 11/08/04 08:24 PM Re: Scales and Modes
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
here is a definition of mode from book "The Study of Fugue" by Alfred Mann:
A mode is comprised of a series of intervals, contained within the limits of an octave, in which the half-tone steps are irregularly placed. ... Since the placing of the half-tone steps occurs in six different manners, we shall have to specify six modes ... in tones d, e, f, g, a, c.

If you count each mode from the first note, you will find the half tone steps in six different places. This difference in placing is indicated by the black notes. ...

A mode is further characterized by the fourth and fifth which make up its octave. (etc.)
i guess modes are similar to scales, but not quite the same, and they are no longer widely used since some time ago. i am guessing that modes were popular in Baroque or pre-Baroque age.

#1034954 - 11/08/04 08:27 PM Re: Scales and Modes
dissonance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 20
Loc: Scottsdale
I posted in another thread ... unless I'm confused ...

#1034955 - 11/08/04 09:20 PM Re: Scales and Modes
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
I'm having a bit of a problem learning exactly how these posts and responses work. I posted to two forums as I was not sure which would be the more appropriate. Now I think I will stick to the Beginner's Forum. Thanks to everyone who replied.
Progressing, slowly, but progressing.

#1034956 - 11/10/04 06:56 AM Re: Scales and Modes
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Another way to think of modes is in relation to a major scale. The Ionian mode starts on the tonic of the related major scale. So, in C, it'll be just like a C major scale.

Dorian mode starts on the second note of the major scale. So, in C, you'd start on D, end on D, and there are no sharps or flats.

Phyrigian starts on the third note of the major scale, Lydian on the fourth note, Mixolydian on the fifth note, Aeolian on the sixth note, and Locrian on the seventh note.
markb--The Count of Casio

#1034957 - 11/10/04 07:07 AM Re: Scales and Modes
mound Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 782
Loc: Rochester, NY
yeah, the more in-depth responses are in this thread:


please try not to post the same question in two forums so as to avoid this confusion!


"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."
-- Ernie Stires, composer

#1034958 - 11/13/04 09:57 PM Re: Scales and Modes
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4264
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Time has smudged our understanding of modes.
Pythagoras 500 BC is credited with selection of the 8 notes making up our Major scale - equivalent to the "white" notes on the keyboard.

Pythagoras might have strung together an harmonious string of "white" notes with the acoustic discovery of the "sweet" consonance of the 1st, 4th, 5th and 8th notes - but it was found that the string of notes could be variously flavoured dependent on choice of starting note (keynote)

The Lydians liked to start with C, the Phrygians with D and the Dorians with E.
The interesting thing is that the critical consonant inner notes (4th and 5th) were always a "sweet" 2.5 and 3.5 tones respectively above the keynote.

The 6-tone Lydian scale (T,T,s,T,T,T,s) is the mode which has survived to become our familiar Major scale - but it was by no means top choice amongst the ancient Greeks.

From "The Physics of Music" by Alexander Wood
"The Greeks associated different emotions with their different modes. The Dorian mode played and important part in the education of Spartan boys. It was said to suggest dinity, manliness, self-dependence and courage. The Phrygian mode was also regarded as inspiring. The Lydian mode, on the other hand, was supposed to conduce to softness and self-indulgence, and to share with the Ionian or Hypophrygian mode a certain voluptuous and orgiastic character. Plato would have forbidden the use of the last two modes in his ideal republic.

Thank goodness we "softies" later added the black notes to disguise the Lydian mode!!


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