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  • Dorian

    9 27.27%
  • Phrygian

    9 27.27%
  • Lydian

    8 24.24%
  • Mixolydian

    4 12.12%
  • Locrian

    3 9.09%
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Thread: Favorite non-Ionian, non-Aeolian diatonic mode

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Didn't they name all the modes incorrectly due to an error? That really screwed it up, as if "modes" weren't problematic enough.
    Yes, Medieval theorists took the names of the Greek modes and reapplied them to different collections. Most importantly, the Dorian and the Phrygian were switched.

    Anyway, the example I posted above is certainly in the Renaissance Phrygian mode, as any theorist of the time would have identified it. It starts on E, cadences on A and C, and ends on E. Those are the most important characteristics that identify a Phrygian piece. Whatever harmonies intervene are irrelevant, because the modes, unlike keys, do not imply any harmonic structure.

    A bit of an aside, but I'll also leave this here for people interested in the development from modality to tonality:
    http://www.kholopov.ru/arc/atcherson.pdf
    Last edited by Mahlerian; Jul-20-2016 at 20:59.

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  3. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    ...It starts on E, cadences on A and C, and ends on E. Those are the most important characteristics that identify a Phrygian piece.
    I would mention as a starter that the most important concept for modern listeners to grasp, before all else, is that the modes are strictly melodic in nature.
    The modal concept is from the early period before the Renaissance, and before the idea of harmony had developed.
    As I understand it, modes are not harmonic; they are strictly melodic in nature, before the concept of harmony had even developed.

    Whatever harmonies intervene are irrelevant, because the modes, unlike keys, do not imply any harmonic structure.
    What do you mean by "whatever harmonies intervene?" I thought modality was strictly melodic. Do you mean the intersecting polyphonic lines?

    If so, then you are saying that the perceived 'harmonies' are irrelevant to the modal system itself, but not necessarily to the ear, as your statement implies by "intervening harmonies" that are present in some way, but irrelevant or improper or 'do not exist' conceptually.

    Many questions:

    1.) Is this 'intervening harmony' illusory if one hears it? If so, does the modal concept render these sounds as beyond consideration?

    2.) Does the 'theory' of modes override the actual sound of perceived 'harmony'?

    3.) Is it necessary to "think" a certain way when listening to modal music, to insure that we do not mistake any 'coincidences of intersecting lines' as harmony?

    ...the modes, unlike keys, do not imply any harmonic structure.
    4.) I know that the modes were not intended to imply any harmonic structure (as harmony did not yet exist as a concept), but what if they did anyway?

    5.) What if someone heard modes as harmony?
    Would they be wrong, or denounced as a heretic?

    6.) What if the composers also heard modes harmonically, even though they are a non-harmonic system, but they tried to harmonically imply things because they liked the way it sounded? Is this far-fetched?

    A bit of an aside, but I'll also leave this here for people interested in the development from modality to tonality:
    http://www.kholopov.ru/arc/atcherson.pdf
    I couldn't access the link. Sounds interesting and informative, though.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-20-2016 at 22:28.

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  5. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Incredibly beautiful stuff. Despite beginning and ending on "E" the harmony is so free that it hardly makes sense to say that it's "in" a mode at all. I'm with you in hearing nothing of a Phrygian character.
    I don't hear this as Phrygian either. Is this example some sort of Renaissance exception? If so, is this a good example to use in describing the Phrygian mode to the average lay person?

    I always thought Phrygian was the melodic entity E-F-G-A-B-C-D.

    I thought Phrygian had E as a starting note, with that distinctive flatted second (from E to F), and was minor-sounding, since it had a minor third (E-G).

    Questions, to anyone:

    1.) What have I described, and why would this not be a Phrygian mode? Have I described a Phrygian scale?

    2.) If a mode cannot be identified by ear (as this one does not sound Phrygian to three of us here), then doesn't this make it, essentially, an arbitrary intellectual construct?

    It seems that one would have to "think their way through" the identification of modes in this way.

    Since modes are not scales, they are not harmonic entities, yet this seems at odds with the way we naturally hear. If so, then 'modes' are a very rigid, artificial concept which has less to do with sound and the way we hear, than with traditions and systems.

    3.) Does anyone agree or disagree with the above line of inquiry?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-20-2016 at 22:30.

  6. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I would mention as a starter that the most important concept for modern listeners to grasp, before all else, is that the modes are strictly melodic in nature.
    The modal concept is from the early period before the Renaissance, and before the idea of harmony had developed.
    As I understand it, modes are not harmonic; they are strictly melodic in nature, before the concept of harmony had even developed.
    It is not that they had no concept of harmony; they did consider the vertical dimension of pieces and endeavor to provide a variety and unity within that dimension. It is rather that they did not have any concept of triads as self-sufficient entities (the word didn't exist until the 17th century) nor any concept of tonal function. The connections of harmonies are made for the purpose of voice leading, not for the establishment of keys. As the paper I linked to remarks, they also had no concept of modulation, though changes in mode were possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    What do you mean by "whatever harmonies intervene?" I thought modality was strictly melodic. Do you mean the intersecting polyphonic lines?

    If so, then you are saying that the perceived 'harmonies' are irrelevant to the modal system itself, but not necessarily to the ear, as your statement implies by "intervening harmonies" that are present in some way, but irrelevant or improper or 'do not exist' conceptually.
    Harmony is not relevant to determining the mode, save at cadences. That is all that I meant.

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Question: Is this 'intervening harmony' illusory if one hears it? If so, does the modal concept render these sounds as beyond consideration?
    It is not that it is illusory, nor beyond consideration, but rather that the modal concept is not dependent on harmony for its identity.

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Does the 'theory' of modes override the actual sound of perceived 'harmony'?
    If you're determining the mode of a piece, of course it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Is it necessary to "think" a certain way when listening to modal music, to insure that we do not mistake any 'coincidences of intersecting lines' as harmony?
    No. Here, as with your idea that I willfully hear 12-tone music a certain way, you give far too much credence to theory and too little to perception. Intention has little to do with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I know that the modes were not intended to imply any harmonic structure (as harmony did not yet exist as a concept), but what if they did anyway? What if someone heard it as harmony? Would they be wrong, or denounced as a heretic?
    It's not that there's no harmonic structure, but rather that there is no key, no functional tonality relating the harmonies to each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    What if the composers also heard it as harmony, even though it was a non-harmonic system, but they tried to harmonically imply things because they liked the way it sounded? Is this far-fetched?
    It's not a non-harmonic system, but rather one which does not depend on harmony for identification. You're approaching this the wrong way. Of course composers chose the harmonic combinations they did because they liked the way they sounded.
    Last edited by Mahlerian; Jul-20-2016 at 22:39.

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  8. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Since modes are not scales, they are not harmonic entities, yet this seems at odds with the way we naturally hear. If so, then 'modes' are a very rigid, artificial concept which has less to do with sound and the way we hear, than with traditions and systems.
    I've tried to explain that modes are not scales in the past, and several people took issue with that. I actually disagree that we hear in terms of scales in the first place. The modal system, whatever its basis, stood for far longer than Common Practice tonality did. Why should we identify the latter as more natural? Melody preceded any kind of harmony, and functional harmony was almost entirely limited to the European tradition. A system based on melody is a far more likely candidate for "natural" than one based on functional harmony.

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  10. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    If a mode cannot be identified by ear (as this one does not sound Phrygian to three of us here), then doesn't this make it, essentially, an arbitrary intellectual construct?
    I can identify a piece as Phrygian. It doesn't sound Dorian, and has some characteristic cadences. Here's another piece in the Phrygian mode, which is even identified as "Missa Quarti Toni," Mass in the Fourth Mode, ie Hypophrygian (which has a different range than the regular Phrygian):


  11. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    I can identify a piece as Phrygian. It doesn't sound Dorian, and has some characteristic cadences. Here's another piece in the Phrygian mode, which is even identified as "Missa Quarti Toni," Mass in the Fourth Mode, ie Hypophrygian (which has a different range than the regular Phrygian):

    This music of Ockeghem (1410-1497), who lived a century before Lassus (1532-1594), has more of the harmonic quality we today would associate with the Phrygian mode, regardless of the traditional application of terminology. Hearing both works without reference to the score, I might identify this piece as Phrygian, but would definitely not so identify the Lassus, where the clues to its source in the mode are swamped by the piece's other harmonic qualities. Modal theory may not be harmonic theory per se, but the modes were certainly used in ways having harmonic implications. The move toward common practice tonality and the harmonic relationships typical of it was very obviously under way in the 16th century.

    The theory of music - what things are historically and "correctly" called - is useful and interesting. But the name of a thing is not the thing, the debates over what to call things have always waged, and music's development, not to mention the practice of individual composers, constantly outpaces theory. The rigid dichotomy of "modality vs. tonality" is certainly a perfect example of this. The article by Walter Atcherson, http://www.kholopov.ru/arc/atcherson.pdf seems to me revealing of the tendency of theorists to shoehorn musical practice and perception into theoretical categories: "During the period of transition from modal theory to major/ minor key theory, roughly coextensive with the seventeenth century, elements and characteristics of modes are often found intermingled with key traits; the transition was hardly instantaneous." Notice that he says, not the "period of transition from modal to tonal practice" but the "period of transition from modal theory to major/ minor key theory," as if the way theorists described (and sometimes prescribed) compositional categories and procedures were what mattered, rather than how musicians and listeners actually heard and felt music.

    The question, "What is your favorite mode?" I take to be asking "What mode do you like the sound of." A liking for the Phrygian mode, nowadays, entails a liking for a "minor" sound with a very distinctive flatted second degree, and if a piece is harmonically complex, one would want to hear harmonic progressions based on those features. The Lassus is harmonically complex but virtually devoid of the Phrygian "signature," the flatted second. It's also full of relationships, involving both tonal levels (tonic, dominant, subdominant, relative minor/major) and specific progressions, which came to dominate harmonic thinking in the common practice era.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-21-2016 at 02:21.

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  13. #38
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    Mode in Renaissance music is tricky. Harold Powers wrote a widely cited essay called "Is Mode Real?" that I would like to read, but have never gotten my hands on the full text. It's a complicated question.

    By the end of the 16th century, you did have composers consciously writing pieces in modes, as opposed to theorists classifying them after the fact. And they began to take on more characteristic properties.

    For example this is Tallis' famous tune in the Phrygian mode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD5TG8z3-SM

    The third is sharp almost everywhere!

    Spem in alium is clearly in the Mixolydian mode. The opposition of G major (tonic) and D minor is a constant thread through the whole piece and is largely the source of its distinctive sound.

    There are also very characteristic uses of the Dorian. E.g., Palestrina's Stabat Mater, where the Dorian character is established right away: leading tone is sharp, sixth degree is natural going up and flat coming down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb3fjwfAZCk

    As far as I know no one at that time ever used the Lydian mode as Beethoven and Bruckner et al later imagined it. You couldn't have a tritone above the final - it was just always flat. This 14th century thing might be a candidate for Lydian, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M42SOJMVK6A
    Last edited by isorhythm; Jul-21-2016 at 02:52.

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  15. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by isorhythm View Post
    Mode in Renaissance music is tricky. Harold Powers wrote a widely cited essay called "Is Mode Real?" that I would like to read, but have never gotten my hands on the full text. It's a complicated question.

    By the end of the 16th century, you did have composers consciously writing pieces in modes, as opposed to theorists classifying them after the fact. And they began to take on more characteristic properties.
    Yes, and the fact remains that the Lassus example I cited would have unquestionably been considered within the Phrygian mode, both by the composer and by his contemporaries. He wrote a set of Penitential Psalms, with each one written in a different mode. No. 3 (and thus in the third mode, authentic Phrygian) bears the same characteristics as the piece I posted earlier.

    http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/1....._quoniam.pdf


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  17. #40
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    ^I do hear this as Phrygian, actually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by isorhythm View Post
    ^I do hear this as Phrygian, actually.
    Not the other one though? It sounded very clearly Phrygian to me even before I checked it in the score.

  20. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    Not the other one though? It sounded very clearly Phrygian to me even before I checked it in the score.
    No, that one too. I think it's a pretty distinctive sound. Tallis's Lamentations is another great one.

    I actually think Barber's Adagio is Phrygian, but I may be alone in that.

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  22. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by isorhythm View Post
    No, that one too. I think it's a pretty distinctive sound. Tallis's Lamentations is another great one.

    I actually think Barber's Adagio is Phrygian, but I may be alone in that.
    Not at all. Even the Wikipedia article on Phrygian mentions it.

  23. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    Not at all. Even the Wikipedia article on Phrygian mentions it.
    Ha, never mind then! I remember reading something once that send it ended on an unresolved dominant and thinking, that is wrong.

  24. #45
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    Another one: the Luther hymn Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir is Phrygian, and Bach maintains the Phrygian character in the opening chorus and closing chorale harmonization of his cantata on it, BWV 38.

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