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#961417 - 11/08/04 05:16 PM Scales and Modes
DarenT Offline
Full Member

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

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.
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#961418 - 11/08/04 08:18 PM Re: Scales and Modes
dissonance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 20
Loc: Scottsdale
The major and minor scales are two of the modes I believe. The modes are different ways of arranging half steps in an octave.

The major scales (Ionian mode) have half steps at 3-4 and 7-8 and natural minor scales (Aeolian mode) have half steps at 2-3 and 5-6.

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#961419 - 11/08/04 09:48 PM Re: Scales and Modes
DuCamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 263
Loc: Mexico City
He must be refering to why C Major and A minor seem to be the same scale... but they aren't.
A scale is a sucesion of tones that follow certain rules. Depending on their structures, these scales would be in Major mode or Minor mode.
The structure of a major scale is: Step-Step-Half Step-Sigma(Step)-Step-Step-Half Step starting from the tonic note.
The structure of a minor scale is: Step-Half Step-Step-Sigma(Step)-Half Step-Step-Step starting from the tonic.
If you see the different structures, you will see why they sound different.
Every Major scale has a relative minor scale, and they share the same alterations, but have different tonics. If you wanna find the relative minor of a Major scale, just go down three grades starting from your tonic note.
That's why C Major's relative minor scale is A minor: C->B->A
D Major's relative would be B minor, and so on.
That's not the whole story but it's a quick recipe to find relative scales.
Sorry if I use different technical words, but english is not my first language and I'm not certain of the terms in english.
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#961420 - 11/08/04 09:58 PM Re: Scales and Modes
DuCamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 263
Loc: Mexico City
I'll post an example so you can go to your piano and hear it for yourself:
Play the G Major scale:
G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G
Its relative minor scale would be E minor:
E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-E
As you see, they have the same alteration, F#, but they sound different because the structure of steps and the tonic has shifted.
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#961421 - 11/09/04 07:19 AM Re: Scales and Modes
mound Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 782
Loc: Rochester, NY
Quite simply, as far as notes are concerned, a mode and a scale are the same thing. What makes a mode a mode (of a scale) is which note you start and end on, and subsequently, the order of steps and half steps within that set of notes.

Take Cmaj for example:
C D E F G A B C

If you play it like that, you've played the Cmajor scale. This can also be called the Ionian mode (which is exactly equal to a major scale)

If however, you play those exact notes starting and stopping on A:

A B C D E F G A

You have played the Aeolian mode of the Cmajor scale. This happens, as you might notice, to be an Aminor scale. Notice how the order of whole steps and half steps has slightly changed, because the notes stayed the same but you started and ended on A rather than C. So the Minor scale is the Aeolian mode of it's relative major scale. Regardless what key we're in, that relationship is the same. etc.

Check Here for a list of all modes. The names given to them are Greek, they are arbitrary (actually, they must have some origin, but I have no idea, and I don't really care ;\) It's the tonal characteristics that are important, but the names are just something to memorize.)

Now, you're probably still saying "well still, if it's the same notes, what's the difference?" - DuCamp touched on it above, and the difference is in how they sound, how the sound is perceived, the tonal characteristics of the notes arranged in that manner. Notes sounded alone have individual characteristics, but when you string them together or stack them (ie. a chord) - the joining of them produces an all together different tonal characteristic. This is why there are so many different kinds of chords, because the order in which the notes are assembled is what determines the sound. Same thing with a mode. Everything DuCamp said is correct. A given scale or chord gets "it's sound" based on the intervals that are strung together.

Try it yourself, with the Cmajor scale for simplicity, play it up and down starting and ending on C. Sing along with your playing..

Then do the same thing, same notes, only starting and ending on D, singing along as best you can.

You will see there is a different "character", although the same notes are being played, the order of steps and half steps and where you started and ended is what gives it it's character. This is why there are different modes.

I hope this helped!
-Paul
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#961422 - 11/09/04 04:44 PM Re: Scales and Modes
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Well! Is this ever educational! Deeper than I thought. It took me a while to work through the above but it has been most informative and helpful. Thank you.
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#961423 - 11/09/04 05:00 PM Re: Scales and Modes
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Modes are forms of scales and the most prominent ones are the major and minor. The phrygian, lydian, aeolian, etc., derive their names from the Greek forms and then there are the church modes. Any encyclopedia will give an explanation or a good music history/theory text. Try http://clem.mscd.edu/~yarrow/MODEXh.html and see if that helps.

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#961424 - 11/09/04 07:30 PM Re: Scales and Modes
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Tried to visit that site. Page could not be found!
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#961425 - 11/10/04 12:43 AM Re: Scales and Modes
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3220
Loc: Virginia, USA
Just to add a bit to mound's excellent explanation.

Sometimes the modes sound like the scale, and sometimes they don't.

Take that song from Sound of Music, Do-Re-Mi. Sing it in C major. It goes through all the modes, in the sense of starting melody fragments at all the degrees of the scale. But it all sounds like C major. That tonality is in your head from the start and it sticks.

Now listen to some chant in your church. If your church doesn't do any, come to mine, all are welcome. You will hear very clearly melody fragments that do NOT sound like C major. Even when the choir sings the right notes.

I used the church example because the modes are commonly called church modes, and service music frequently sounds modal. I notice that when I recognize this, I have an easier time sight singing, because the interval progression makes sense.

Anyway, I think what you want out of modes is to recognize the distinctively different sound that they are supposed to have. I guess if you were really a scale freak you'd have to learn 84 instead of 12.
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#961426 - 11/11/04 11:45 PM Re: Scales and Modes
zartist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/04
Posts: 116
Du Camp unfortunately neglected to raise his 7th when transcribing the notes of the e minor scale - this scale should be
E F# G A B C D# E
Mound commits the same error - the a minor scale has a raised 7th - G#. This scale will be
A B C D E F G# A
The simplest way to remember the Ionian system is to relate the modes to the white keys on a piano. An all white note scale starting on c is in the Ionian mode. On d it is the dorian - on e, the Phrygian - on f, the Lydian - on g, the Myxolydian - on a, the Aeolian - on b, the Locrian.
Now comes the hard part - if you want to play a dorian scale starting on A you must mirror the tone and half-tone relationships which you find in the 'true' Dorian scale (D E F G A B C D) - Your Dorian on A will be as follows
A B C D E F# G A

And so on.....

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#961427 - 11/12/04 05:08 AM Re: Scales and Modes
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Dogboy,

Not all minor scales have a raised 7th. The natural minor[/b] scale shares the same key signature as it's relative minor, ie C Major and a minor. If you want to play an harmonic minor [/b] scale, the natural minor scale is played with a raised 7th. A melodic minor [/b] scale is played with a raised 6th and 7th ascending, and a descending natural minor scale.

Your blanket statement is misleading:

Mound commits the same error - the a minor scale has a raised 7th - G#. This scale will be[/b] A B C D E F G# A[/b]

Cranky Woman \:D
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#961428 - 11/12/04 07:25 AM Re: Scales and Modes
DuCamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 263
Loc: Mexico City
Exactly, CrankyWoman.
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#961429 - 11/12/04 07:51 AM Re: Scales and Modes
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Might as well add further confusion to the above posts. \:\) Ready? Here goes:

GREEK MODES: Using only the white keys of the piano you have as follows:

Lydian: C-C
Phrygian: D-D
Dorian: E-E
Hypolydian: F-F
Hypophrygian: G-G
Hypodorian: A-A
(or Aeolian)
Mixolydian: B-B each covers an octave with ALL WHITE KEYS!!

GREGORIAN MODES (authentic):
Ionian: C-C
Dorian: D-D
Phrygian: E-E
Lydian: F-F
Mixolydian: G-G
Aeolian: A-A
Hypophrygian B-B
Last is one 'PLAGAL'

Again there is ONE major scale which can be played in ANY KEY!!! That is, the pattern of
W W H W W W H is applied to a starting point and the result is a MAJOR SCALE. When asked how many major scales there are many respond with all the white key names and then the inharmonic sharps/flats. Actually there is ONE major scale and that is the PATTERN applied to various starting points called KEYS, ex., Key of C, Key of F, Key of Ab, Key of C#.

For the minor scale there are THREE patterns. One must know the pattern in use in a particular composition. Only the HARMONIC MINOR has the raised seventh or, another way of looking at it, the lowered 6th which makes a wider interval (step and a half). The HARMONIC MINOR is the most frequently used. The NATURAL MINOR follows the same sequence as the major except the starting point (KEY) is different (a third below the MAJOR starting point). The MELODIC MINOR has one pattern ascending and another descending. To use it one must go up and then back down.

Have a great day and I hope this helps. All of the explanations give some perspective on the perception of scales/modes. Surely DARENT is more informed after asking that question! \:\)

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#961430 - 11/12/04 09:53 AM Re: Scales and Modes
DuCamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 263
Loc: Mexico City
I'm not trying to be anal here, but Varcon has some misconceptions about the scales theory... the natural minor scale doesn't follow the same sequence as the major scale, for starters, they just share alterations (key signature.)
We are actually talking about structures, not sequences.
For example, Varcon says that the harmonic minor has a raised 7th equivalent to a lowered 6th to maintain the step and a half sequence... structurally, that is incorrect because it would affect your whole harmonic minor scale's first tetrachord structure, thus changing incorrectly the mode of the scale. That's why it's only a raised 7th, no equivalents allowed.
You see, scales are analized using tetrachords (blocks of four consecutive grade tones, ie. C-D-E-F), which dictate the mode and its characteristics. The first tetrachord tells you the mode, and the second tetrachord tells you its "last name."
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#961431 - 11/12/04 11:45 AM Re: Scales and Modes
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3915
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
I was taught to build scales as pairings of tetrachords, some 40 or so years ago. Hadn't heard (or read) the term used since then.

I thought that the church (Gregorian) modes came not only with scales, but with a "dominant" which was not always the fifth degree of the scale.

My .02 cents (yes, I realize that's one-fiftieth of a cent).
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#961432 - 11/12/04 12:42 PM Re: Scales and Modes
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
No mis-conceptions--maybe a mis-statement. Scales are formed in tetrachords. And the raised 7th is correct for the harmonic minor. If one were to play a NATURAL minor the only change needed to make it an harmonic minor would be the raised seventh. The natural minor follows the major in that the same keys (tones) are used but the starting point is different and thus the arrangement of whole and half steps is different. As to the lowered third and sixth, I was thinking of say, C major and C minor. To change the major to a minor (not regarding the key signature at this point) lower the 3rd to Eb and the 6th to Ab, keep the other white keys and the result is the C Minor pattern. Applying the key signature Bb, Eb, Ab, then the Bb must be naturalized (raised) to make the pattern comply. And I did qualify it as another way of looking at it besides the raised 7th. Anyway, it boils down to learning the patterns, practising them, and utlizing them in a variety of ways.

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#961433 - 11/12/04 10:35 PM Re: Scales and Modes
zartist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/04
Posts: 116
Ducamp & cranky woman - it's obviously a question of nomenclature - if you're not specific you leave yourself open to criticism

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#961434 - 11/13/04 06:12 AM Re: Scales and Modes
DuCamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 263
Loc: Mexico City
Point taken... but, accept that you should have assumed what kind of minor scale we were talking about by not including a raised 7th and by saying that it's the direct relative of a major scale sharing the exact same key signature. We weren't wrong and it's really the "main" minor scale. The others are adjustments.
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#961435 - 11/13/04 11:02 AM Re: Scales and Modes
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
We all need to remember that the original question was by someone who is questioning BASIC information about scales and modes. Dogboy's explanation was general and misleading-

 Quote:
Du Camp unfortunately neglected to raise his 7th when transcribing the notes of the e minor scale - this scale should be
E F# G A B C D# E
Mound commits the same error - the a minor scale has a raised 7th - G#. This scale will be
A B C D E F G# A
The simplest way to remember the Ionian system is to relate the modes to the white keys on a piano. An all white note scale starting on c is in the Ionian mode. On d it is the dorian - on e, the Phrygian - on f, the Lydian - on g, the Myxolydian - on a, the Aeolian - on b, the Locrian.
Now comes the hard part - if you want to play a dorian scale starting on A you must mirror the tone and half-tone relationships which you find in the 'true' Dorian scale (D E F G A B C D) - Your Dorian on A will be as follows
A B C D E F# G A

Not all minor scales have a raised 7th. Dogboy wrote as if this were the case and, IMO, implied that Mound and DuCamp did not understand the concept of modes and scales. (I think their definitions were excellent) My purpose was one of setting the record straight and keeping the definition as simple as possible for the original question.

cranky woman \:D
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#961436 - 11/13/04 04:20 PM Re: Scales and Modes
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
All of the above is fascinating but as our cranky lady has mentioned, I am still in Grade One, actually make that Kindergarten after having read the above. I must curb my natural curiosity and get back to the keyboard to practice. Thank you all.
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#961437 - 11/13/04 05:28 PM Re: Scales and Modes
PianoMum9 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/19/04
Posts: 19
Loc: Surrey, BC
There seems to have been quite a thorough discussion of this subject. If I could just add one thing which might clarify the use of the two terms. To quote Lee Evans ("Modes and Their Use in Jazz"): "Modes in the broadest sense, are scales. We refer to major mode, minor mode, pentatonic mode, whole tone mode, etc. In a narrower sense, however, modes refer to scales once used as the basis for medieval church music."
Historically modes were used very little after about 1600 until the late 1800's, and now of course they are much used in jazz and contemporary music.
Don't know if that added much, but I had to add my two bits worth!

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#961438 - 11/16/04 09:43 PM Re: Scales and Modes
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1529
Jazz musicians are the masters of the modes. The minor scales they use the most oftem are Dorian and next the ascending form of the Melodic Minor scale. They use Harmonic Minor and Aeloian less frequently. Since the 1960's, many modern jazz players use the 7 modes of the ascending form of the Melodic Minor scale almost as often as the 7 modes of the Major Scale. They also use the half-step/whole-step diminished scales on V7b9 chords (there are only three diminished scales); penatonic major and minor scales; blues scales; and BeBop scales. The BeBop scales (fingered 1234, 1234) add one passing tone to any scale with 7 notes in it, thereby making it an 8 tone balanced scale so it will come out on the same note it started on. Think about it, there are 8 eighth notes per bar, a 7 tone scale does not fit or "come out right" on the same note it began on, it's lopsided. Bach and Charlie Parker new this and employed it in their melodic phrases.
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