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Thread: Scales vs. Modes: What's the Difference?

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    Default Scales vs. Modes: What's the Difference?

    https://youtu.be/vZ8QzZ8GGo4



    I like what Rick Beato says here at :30.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jan-10-2020 at 20:51.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Ok so by his own definition at the start of the video a mode is in fact a scale. However the modes can also be seen to be subsets of certain scales, he chooses 5 such scales to present in this video. But what he doesn't explain is why these 5 scales? Can't subset modes be created off of many different scales? What is so special about those 5?

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    What is he arguing, that scale means a set pattern of intervals spanning an octave and mode refers to which one of those serves as tonal center?

    Is that controversial?

    Do we have to be pedantic and refer to half-whole and whole-half modes of the octatonic or diminished scale?

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Ok so by his own definition at the start of the video a mode is in fact a scale. However the modes can also be seen to be subsets of certain scales, he chooses 5 such scales to present in this video. But what he doesn't explain is why these 5 scales? Can't subset modes be created off of many different scales? What is so special about those 5?
    He chose those five scales because he and others like them. Listen to Beato at the peril of your brain cells. He seems to have a talent for butchering basic terms.

    Mode refers to a collection of pitches (as might serve as the basis of a composition, passage, or improvisation) differentiated by function, that is, according to which serves as final, reciting tone, tonal center, etc. The same collection can define multiple different modes depending on how functions are assigned. Scale refers to a collection of pitches (such as those defining a mode) considered as a series ascending or descending by conjunct motion. Mode is in the same category as key; Alas, scale is often used loosely (sloppily) as a synonym for mode or key, as Beato does.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jan-11-2020 at 04:41.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Ok so by his own definition at the start of the video a mode is in fact a scale. However the modes can also be seen to be subsets of certain scales, he chooses 5 such scales to present in this video. But what he doesn't explain is why these 5 scales? Can't subset modes be created off of many different scales? What is so special about those 5?
    Because he is deriving them from the same parent scale, duhh. Also, certain modes of the melodic minor scale are particularly useful to jazz players and soundtrack composers.

    I.e., this approach places the emphasis on getting new sounds, not as "definitions" or theoretical distinctions.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jan-11-2020 at 15:46.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    What is he arguing, that scale means a set pattern of intervals spanning an octave and mode refers to which one of those serves as tonal center? Is that controversial?
    Yes, to some academics I'm sure it is.

    Do we have to be pedantic and refer to half-whole and whole-half modes of the octatonic or diminished scale?
    I think we can leave the pendantics to the academics, who probably don't recognize those as scales.

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    Not that I know anything about music, but I've always assumed that a mode and a scale are the same thing. Though we generally talk about the Major and Minor scales, these are also modes, Ionian (major) and Aeolian (minor), using those Greeky names we give to modes. And I realize we all know about the various Church modes and such.... But I also assume that any structured series of tones within an octave (or possibly within a couple of octaves!) can be called a scale, and also a mode? I don't know. If one constructs a personal series of tones (having as we would suppose, a tonal base or center, a tonic note) to use for compositional purposes (and the series of tones could involves microtones, too), would we still call such a scale? I don't know this, but … are there actually scales (modes) that have been named for composers who created and used them?

    Frankly, life was much simpler when a mode was simply ice-cream, as in Pie à la Mode.

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    the order of whole/half steps determines the mode/scale

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    He chose those five scales because he and others like them. Listen to Beato at the peril of your brain cells. He seems to have a talent for butchering basic terms.

    Mode refers to a collection of pitches (as might serve as the basis of a composition, passage, or improvisation) differentiated by function, that is, according to which serves as final, reciting tone, tonal center, etc. The same collection can define multiple different modes depending on how functions are assigned. Scale refers to a collection of pitches (such as those defining a mode) considered as a series ascending or descending by conjunct motion. Mode is in the same category as key; Alas, scale is often used loosely (sloppily) as a synonym for mode or key, as Beato does.
    This makes sense generally, and perhaps should be the way things are, but we do call tonic, supertonic, dominant, etc. "scale degrees" so I'm not really sure. It's a good question, but I think using "major scale", "major key", and "major mode" interchangeably is probably OK.
    Casual composer, pianist, music enthusiast

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    There's a trap here, in that the use of the term "mode" has changed over the cenuries. Rick Beato seems to take "mode" in the modern, popular sense to mean the same thing as "scale": major mode = major scale, Lydian mode = Lydian scale. I guess that's fine if we're talking about contemporary usage, but it leaves nothing to discuss.

    A scale is nothing but a collection of pitches arranged in a series and defined by a specific sequence of intervals. Historically, a mode wasn't just a scale but a system of pitch relationships utilizing a scale, making possible certain types of melodies determined by the differing functions of the tones being utilized. Two pieces of music might utilize the same scale but be in different modes, depending on the functions assigned to the notes within the scale. A piece utilizing what we call the "Dorian" scale would be in the Dorian mode if its "final" (tonic) were on D and its "dominant" on A, but if its dominant were on F it would be in the Hypodorian mode. Same scale, different mode.

    The medieval modes were conceived when musical thinking was fundamentally melodic. In modern harmonic thinking there's no such thing as a "dominant" on the fourth scale degree, and so no such thing as the Hypodorian mode. For all practical purposes the Dorian scale now implies only the Dorian mode.

    That's my understanding of the matter, after having not thought about this for decades. I welcome corrections from those with greater expertise.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Feb-17-2020 at 18:01.

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    I'm pleased with these responses. The only clarification I could make would be to say that a scale is not a "sequence" of notes; it's only presented that way for clarity. It's more like an "index" of notes, with no order. It's an unordered set.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Feb-17-2020 at 21:55.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm pleased with these responses. The only clarification I could make would be to say that a scale is not a "sequence" of notes; it's only presented that way for clarity. It's more like an "index" of notes, with no order. It's an unordered set.
    How could a scale be unordered? To have a C major scale you have to play the notes in order (sequence) starting with C or you don't have a scale at all (and if you start on another note of the set you have a different scale). A piece in the KEY of C major doesn't have to present the notes of the scale in any particular order, but key isn't the same as scale. The scale exists only if it begins on C and ascends or descends in the proper sequence. Do you mean something different by "order"?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Feb-17-2020 at 22:41.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    a scale is not a "sequence" of notes; it's only presented that way for clarity. It's more like an "index" of notes, with no order. It's an unordered set.
    MR. MR, I never tired of seeing you annoying people you consider "box-like thinkers" but aren't you going a bit too far this time? What's the third note of the C major scale then?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    A)How could a scale be unordered?

    B) To have a C major scale you have to play the notes in order (sequence) starting with C or you don't have a scale at all (and if you start on another note of the set you have a different scale).
    C)A piece in the KEY of C major doesn't have to present the notes of the scale in any particular order, but key isn't the same as scale.
    D)The scale exists only if it begins on C and ascends or descends in the proper sequence."
    A) Any n-note (taking octave equivalence) melody can be considered n-note unordered scale. You have no specified sequence of pitches.
    B) No, that's ordered presentation of the scale.
    C) The concept of "key" has more to do with standard (meantone) notation system, not with scales (or modes) . (You can notate a piece, written in C major using the key of F 1/4 sharp in 24 equal (which will be contorted meantone) or whatever, if you want, right?, but I doubt it's gonna be very smart thing to do)
    D) See B).

    I don't think that "musical set theory" uses mathematical concepts of order, relations etc in a very formal way, but even naive understanding of these basic ideas can give us insights (I am not totally sure how the concept of tonic works mathematically; anyway, modes should be specific permutation of the scale - again, they can be ordered or unordered.)

    Anyway, sometimes in real music it can be hard to judge whether specific scale and which mode exactly is used - that's why it is easy to consider the introductory or ending fragments as the main "tonality".

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BabyGiraffe View Post
    A) Any n-note (taking octave equivalence) melody can be considered n-note unordered scale. You have no specified sequence of pitches.
    What is an "n-note melody"? How can "any melody" be considered a scale? How do you have a specific scale without a sequence? The same bunch of notes, sequenced differently, define different scales. The notes CDEFGAB, in that order, define a C major scale, but the same notes in the order ABCDEFG define an A minor scale. In the order DEBACFG they define no scale at all. The sequence determines the scale.

    B) No, that's ordered presentation of the scale.
    If you don't assume that notes belong in a particular sequence, they aren't a scale. You may have a melody utilizing the notes of a scale, but not the scale itself. A scale IS an ordered presentation.

    C) The concept of "key" has more to do with standard (meantone) notation system, not with scales (or modes) . (You can notate a piece, written in C major using the key of F 1/4 sharp in 24 equal (which will be contorted meantone) or whatever, if you want, right?, but I doubt it's gonna be very smart thing to do)
    What difference does tuning make? The concept of "key" belongs to a tonal system, which is based on a scale. To change key - to modulate - is to move to a different tonal center, which is to choose a different scale as the basis of operations. This works well in some tuning systems and not in others, but that's a practical matter and doesn't affect the concept of key.

    I don't think that "musical set theory" uses mathematical concepts of order, relations etc in a very formal way, but even naive understanding of these basic ideas can give us insights (I am not totally sure how the concept of tonic works mathematically; anyway, modes should be specific permutation of the scale - again, they can be ordered or unordered.)

    Anyway, sometimes in real music it can be hard to judge whether specific scale and which mode exactly is used - that's why it is easy to consider the introductory or ending fragments as the main "tonality".
    I find this unclear.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Feb-23-2020 at 04:59.

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