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Thread: Two questions: minor scale - identificaton and modes

  1. #46
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    The best melodies are ones that are easily sung, or that make you want to sing them (even if you can't!).
    Right, this was the basic purpose of melody construction because in the early music the melodies were sung.

    In classic phrygian mode, the b2 would be used in the same way as the leading tone (maj7) is used in key-based music: to lead to the keynote by half-step. So a typical cadence in D# phrygian would be E-D#m.
    The problem in my example was that they were sounding simultaneously.

    BTW, that's the name for the mode you're working with: D# phrygian. I understand what you mean by "B major scale, phrygian mode" - it's not exactly incorrect, but it's potentially confusing. (Does it mean B phrygian or D# phrygian?) IOW, it's important to forget about a B tonic, but the term "B major" reminds you of that. It's not "in the key of B major".
    By writing that I was trying to describe my example: I V IV I progression constructed from the BMaj scale together with a D# Phrygian based melody. It would be easier to post a staff but I haven't here.

    You're still thinking "B major", which is why you've labelled the chords wrongly. The IV of D# phrygian is G#m. E major is the bII.
    And in any case, in modern modal music, there are no chord functions.
    The E/D# chord is meaningless in functional terms.
    Well, I could find a better way to describe the piece. But I understand what you mean. The chords were named functionally based on the Bmaj scale while the key is D#.

    Remember a slash chord with a non-chord-tone bass note is heard as a single entity, with the bass as the root, so should be labelled as such if you want a functional number. But in this case, of course, every chord has the tonic as root! So - in an important sense - they are all "I" chords, just voiced differently, with different extensions. (It's very important to think this way if you're composing contemporary modal music, at least the kind developed in jazz. Forget the idea of chord "progression". You can have different chords, but they don't lead anywhere, so don't need numbers.)
    There's nothing wrong with your E/D# chord: if you like the sound of it, use it. But don't waste time numbering any of the chords.
    That's a whole new way to look at things. But I like it, specially because I already know something of traditional harmony.

    There's not really any theory about which notes to avoid in modal harmonies; just go by ear, and if you like a particular interval, keep it; if you don't like it, leave one of the notes out.
    And after you can find what kind of strange chords you've used.

    (Eg, if you find A# and B in the same chord too dissonant, you could leave out either A# or B. The notes in the rest of the chord - and what the root is - don't matter too much. Breaking away from triadic harmony is kind of the point. OK, you're using triads as upper structures, but the root note turns them into various kinds of sus chords, with 4ths and 2nds appearing - which is good.)
    Right!

    Of course the pre-classical modal system didn't actually use chords of any description, but it's quite common in rock or folk modal music to use standard triadic chords (not slash chords), but just resolve them in unusual directions - specifically in phrygian the bII-i cadence mentioned.
    This presuposes a good knowledge of progressions, their functions and tendencies, and a lot of examples and practice.

    (If you were going to attempt proper medieval modal music, you'd need a whole load more arcane rules to learn and follow...)
    Once in a while I study medieval music, its historic background mainly. That's my way to find relationships between the rules that were used and the reasons behind them.

  2. #47
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    Something useful as a basis for instructional purposes: Modal chord progressions.

  3. #48
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    Hello, my friends

    A question about modal chord progressions...

    As far as I understood, to write a modal progression we need to find the parent scale of the root of the mode we want and then construct a I-IV-V progression based on the parent scale. Then we put the mode root as the root of the chord.
    To add variety we can used secondary chords of the parent scale by means of diatonic chord substitution:

    Tonic family chords: I, IIIm, VIm
    Subdominant family chords: IV, IIm
    Dominant family chords: V, VIIš

    My doubt is in the relationship between this and the info in the link I've posted before (http://www.franksinger.com/Amusic/modal_prog.htm).
    In the link, it seems they are constructing the chords from the mode scale and not from the parent.

    Anyway, I was trying the different modes to ear the difference between them and I came up with what I called a "modal sequence". The names of each mode are on top of the score but they all seem similar.
    Unless my ears are addicted to a certain sound.

    Modal sequence.pdf

    This is not an artistic work, it's just for edicational purposes.
    Last edited by rbarata; 03-26-2012 at 05:08 PM.

  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    As far as I understood, to write a modal progression we need to find the parent scale of the root of the mode we want and then construct a I-IV-V progression based on the parent scale. Then we put the mode root as the root of the chord.]
    Not sure where on earth you got that idea!

    The G/D - F/D - C/D example given in the article is not any definitive "Modal Chord Progression".

    (And why keep talking about the "parent scale"? It has no musical significance, and the (same) notes (which combine into the same chords) are right there for you in the mode...)

  5. #50
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    Not sure where on earth you got that idea!

    The G/D - F/D - C/D example given in the article is not any definitive "Modal Chord Progression".
    I saw several articles and youtube vids explaining it that way...unless I didn't understood a thing...that is also possible.

    Take a look at this example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRre6Qdx5DI

    Maybe what I've done differently was to include the I of the parent scale (although some examples include it in the end of the progression).
    Last edited by rbarata; 03-26-2012 at 06:24 PM.

  6. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Not sure where on earth you got that idea!

    The G/D - F/D - C/D example given in the article is not any definitive "Modal Chord Progression".
    I disagree, actually. It works quite well as a D dorian sequence, although IMO "progression" is a risky word. It seems to me like a way to get a reasonable modal sound while using familiar chord shapes and symbols.
    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    (And why keep talking about the "parent scale"? It has no musical significance, and the (same) notes (which combine into the same chords) are right there for you in the mode...)
    True. It doesn't make any difference, except in how one thinks about it - which can be quite important!

    IOW, if (because of musical education so far) one finds it easier to think of "chords from C major" instead of "chords from D dorian", I don't think that's a problem as long as one can remember that D dorian mode is not "in the key of" C major. But I can see (given a key-based education) that that could precisely be the issue .

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello, my friends

    A question about modal chord progressions...

    As far as I understood, to write a modal progression we need to find the parent scale of the root of the mode we want and then construct a I-IV-V progression based on the parent scale. Then we put the mode root as the root of the chord.
    You don't "need" to do it that way, but it can make a handy shortcut, and give you some good chord sounds.
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    To add variety we can used secondary chords of the parent scale by means of diatonic chord substitution:

    Tonic family chords: I, IIIm, VIm
    Subdominant family chords: IV, IIm
    Dominant family chords: V, VIIš
    OK, as long as you remember those functions no longer apply (when superimposing on a modal root). You're just talking about 7 possible triadic harmonizations from the scale.
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    My doubt is in the relationship between this and the info in the link I've posted before (http://www.franksinger.com/Amusic/modal_prog.htm).
    In the link, it seems they are constructing the chords from the mode scale and not from the parent.
    Well, it's the same scale. Eg, in C lydian mode you can think of those chords as coming from either G major or C lydian - it's all the same notes! (Just forget the roman numerals.)

    He's using "key of C" to refer (sensibly enough) to a C keynote, and using parallel modes on that root - not relative modes (from the C major scale).

    IOW, it's good practice to think of C lydian as being "key of C" and NOT "key of G".
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Anyway, I was trying the different modes to ear the difference between them and I came up with what I called a "modal sequence". The names of each mode are on top of the score but they all seem similar.
    Unless my ears are addicted to a certain sound.

    Modal sequence.pdf

    This is not an artistic work, it's just for edicational purposes.
    Well, to start with you only have one bar on each mode, and they are all relative (from the same scale). So it's likely to sound like just a series of unusual harmonizations in the key of C major.

    What you should try instead is to take each bar and extend it to an entire piece. Keep the one bass note going, and make the chords longer - 2 or beats each at least - so you can really listen to the slash chord effects individually, and forget the idea of a "progression".

    I think you've already done this, in fact, with your lydian piece (in the other thread), but superimposing chords on the bass note is just a strategy, a route to getting into modal sounds. Eventually you need to kind of let the chords "dissolve", and focus purely on melody; or think of the entire mode as one whole "complete chord" (maj13#11 for lydian), which just appears now and then in different partial guises, to remind you what it is. Forget "progression".

    Alternatively - the other kind of "modal sequence" (as I mentioned) is to use one "root" modal chord, and another as contrast. So for F lydian, you might have Fmaj7 as "I" chord, with a G or Em as a secondary chord - but very important for the I chord to be primary, to be played much more than the secondary one. For this kind of modal music, the chords do need to be more clearly defined than in the above "impressionist" type - and you need to be a lot more careful (and restricted) about how you voice and use them. That's because the other chord has a non-F root note, taking you away from lydian. Lydian is a weak mode, and may well disappear if you're away from the F root for too long, and if you use too many other chords (on other roots).

    With the "impressionist" type of modal music, the mode is sustained in two ways: (1) the root note is stated fairly often; (2) the chords are vague and ambiguous, not easily identifiable (ie in 4ths and 2nds, not 3rds). The more vague the chords, the less you may need to keep underlining the root; but the more you use familiar tertian voicings, the more the root needs to be maintained (ie slash chords with a constant pedal bass).

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    I disagree, actually. It works quite well as a D dorian sequence, although IMO "progression" is a risky word. It seems to me like a way to get a reasonable modal sound while using familiar chord shapes and symbols.
    Sure it may be *a* way, I just meant it isn't necessarily *the* way to approach modes.

    Do you agree with the term "modal progression" to refer to something like a I-bVII-IV-I Mixolydian sequence?
    Last edited by walternewton; 03-27-2012 at 10:24 PM.

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