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Old 12-13-2012, 04:19 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by jrenkert
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The thing about modes and music in general is that it is based off feeling. Music is what you make of it and nothing more. Think of it like this: there is green, light green, lime green, forest green, apple green, gangrene..., blue green, aqua, etc. but if you asked a kindergartner what color that is they would simply say green.
What I mean is that it is all learned perceptions that give us these varied definitions. Try playing D C G a D and playing a G major (starting and ending on G) scale over it...it is not going to sound quite right, however if you take the same notes and start them on D it will...kinda weird but not worth the 5 pages of argument.

Why would you play them in that order? You can play them in whatever order and it will sound fine. The note you start with or the order of the notes doesn't make the scale different. You can emphasize G note if you want but it might not sound good if it's not a chord tone and it will not make the progression to be in G major. You should think what chord you are playing over. G is the fourth of D major chord and that's why it doesn't sound good. But if the last note you played was one step higher or half steps lower, it would sound good because F# and A belong to D major chord.

And in this case you wouldn't be playing G major scale because the key would be D major. It would just be D major scale with b7, you could call it D mixolydian scale if you wanted (but that doesn't mean the song is "in mixolydian").
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:39 PM   #102
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Doesn't anyone think that saying, "It's just in the key of X" is an unsatisfactory explanation when one is trying to describe a section or fragment of a composition that is clearly formed around the tonality of a mode?


no. you, maybe, but that might explain a thing or two about why you have such an issue with it. think about what a key is. and i mean really think.

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Originally Posted by chronowarp
Think about the Chocobo Theme in FF. One could simply state that it's in the Key of G, because at points it clearly indicates that it is harmonically functional, but would it not be more descriptive, and helpful, to note that the entire A section, and a lot of the B section, is based around a Mixolydian tonality?

Or is the AeolianWolf method of "IT'S THE KEY OF G, SOMETIMES THERE'S b7's! NOOB!" more descriptive and helpful in communicating what's happening musically?

Honest question.


mixolydian is not a "tonality". i advise you to go back to basics and start learning from the ground up (from a teacher who actually knows what the hell they're talking about).

a flawed understanding of music theory is a flawed understanding of music theory. you can get by with it (just like you can get by with no understanding of music theory), but that doesn't mean it's correct.

if i can poke holes wide open in the theories you and your ilk present, but you can't give me any logical rebuttal about why my method doesn't work, logically and objectively speaking, which method is more accurate? more efficient? more parsimonious?

you're lying to yourself if you answered any of those three with the method that you have come to know.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:49 PM   #103
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You're a hoot man. Why do you flippantly assume and disrespect other people over an issue that's entirely semantics? We've been over this numerous times. I don't need to "go back to basics" I have a ****ing degree in music, and teach this shit regularly.

Mixolydian is a tonality - all modes are distinct tonalities. We have a two key system based on the major & minor modes, hinged together w/ functional harmony, yes, and while it is satisfactory in most instances in describing the overall makeup of most Western music it is not an end-all, and it is not the ONLY satisfactory explanation.

Your method fails, in that, it rejects a much SIMPLER and DESCRIPTIVE explanation simply for absolute, irrefutable consistency.

If a section of a piece of music is clearly Mixolydian, in what the melody & music communicate, but it is encompassed as a whole composition, within a key, that does not mean it cannot and shall not be called Mixolydian.

Your method would be, "****IN NOOB ITS IN THE KEY OF G, WITH A BUNCH OF CHROMATIC b7'S". The reason that explanation is unsatisfactory is because it doesn't really communicate anything about what the melody sounds like or is implying. Saying something is in the key of G with accidentals isn't descriptive in any meaningful way. It has b7 accidentals? Does that mean we're seeing a lot of V/IV's? Does that mean the composer is using the b7 as a chromatic passing tone? What does that explanation MEAN? IT doesn't mean a lot, because it isn't descriptive and it purposefully disregards the simplest, and most direct explanation.

If a passage, section, or workable majority of a piece of music is based on or around a mode that is not the major/minor, then it is perhaps satisfactory as a means of explaining the melodic makeup of that piece or section of music.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:56 PM   #104
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it's important to consider that there's a system of diminishing returns in the argument that modes are a method of more simplistic (and thereby more efficient = better) analysis because they are specific, even in a tonal context, when referring to a specific pattern of notes. there aren't a whole heck of a lot of pieces with only 7 notes, or only one key, and even in those contexts, there's a contention, but i think the issue is fundamentally with how easily the word "modes" is thrown around here without further clarification

when you talk about modes, you need to make it clear if you're referring to tonality based on a scale rather than the tonal characteristics of legitimate modes if you're trying to argue that modal scales are fast methods of analysis. by putting the modes (as forms of the major scale rather than a method of composition and analysis in a historical context) on a pedestal as their own branch of tonality, you're essentially setting up a scale up as on-par with a key in the context of that section, and that's turning 24 potential keys into literally thousands. you know better than that, i'd think, because you understand the difference between modes (as a system) and keys, but when you're using the word "modes" to mean both systems as well as scales (which, of course, exist as a pattern of underlying structure under the major or minor modes of a key), there's a point where you can't give them equal weight as a harmonic tool.

personally, i wouldn't analyze a song based on what scale i'm using, but it all depends on what's easiest and what needs to be communicated. this is the key issue, i think. in a scenario where it's obvious it's a major scale with a b7, call it mixolydian, whatever, but as i said before, it's not always going to be that simple, and unless the composer was specifically writing with scale changes in mind, or a piece is so harmonically simple that you can stick it in one key or scale, it becomes inefficient to try and use them as a sticker term. even in those situations, honestly i don't think an experienced musician really needs the clarification if it's marked on the sheet music or if they can hear what they're to perform, which they'll need anyway unless you want them to just guess the rhythm and order of notes or something.

but outside of that kind of scenario where it's a static piece, and thereby you can define it however you prefer, anything with multiple modulations, a large number of accidentals, chromaticism, etc. will become exponentially harder to keep track of as a scale, or series of scales, because a scale is absolutely secondary to the functional tonal center and mode quality (major/minor). the ability to outline a piece based on a number of pitches goes out the window when the bigger tonal function outlining the piece changes.

within a key, you can have all 12 notes provided the function is secure, and within a scale (including the modal scales), you can only have 7, so yes, that's more specific (and thereby efficient) in terms of note choice, but short of using CST to solo over sightread chord changes to speed up your reaction time, or there's a straight scale run, i find it hard to clunk up an analysis with "the composer uses this scale here, this scale here" when it's more efficient to denote what the piece is functionally and let the performer associate the odd notes however they might do so comfortably.

a lot of confusion here isn't because people don't understand modes, but because it seems like there are (at least) 3 definitions of the word, and instead of just saying "scales" or "CST" or "major or minor key" to differentiate a method of thought based on certain interval patterns, the quality of a tonal center, and an archaic system of analysis, it becomes very easy to mix up the context the word is being used, which makes it really easy to get annoyed over semantics and very hard to tell if someone knows what they're talking about.

when a beginner reads us talking about modes, though, and somebody says "modes are just a primitive system of tonality that were used in music you'll probably never listen to, and they're basically a genre or era in the scope of tonal music rather than a modern tool", i'd say that's right. similarly, modes are also defined (through textbooks and many credible scholars with more credentials than anybody here) as interval patterns derived from modality, and that's right too. however, they aren't connected - they're 2 different people, just both named tom. i try to deny calling the modal scales "modes" as well because of my personal opinions on scales being vastly over-prioritized, but i'd rather go back to arguing about scales and shapes in a learning environment and knowing what we're fighting about rather than the current state of raw annoyance and confusion.

i have my opinion on both of the "modes" and i'd gladly expound upon them and evolve them, cause i think i remember at one point it being possible to do here, but we really need to get a way to differentiate the two so this kind of an annoying clusterfuck stops happening and i can go back to actually posting long, rambling asides like this without x'ing out because somebody's going to misconstrue something and it's only going to get cumulatively worse until somebody starts talking shit about me for not being homeless
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:00 PM   #105
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Originally Posted by chronowarp
You're a hoot man. Why do you flippantly assume and disrespect other people over an issue that's entirely semantics? We've been over this numerous times. I don't need to "go back to basics" I have a ****ing degree in music, and teach this shit regularly.

Mixolydian is a tonality - all modes are distinct tonalities. We have a two key system based on the major & minor modes, hinged together w/ functional harmony, yes, and while it is satisfactory in most instances in describing the overall makeup of most Western music it is not an end-all, and it is not the ONLY satisfactory explanation.

Your method fails, in that, it rejects a much SIMPLER and DESCRIPTIVE explanation simply for absolute, irrefutable consistency.

If a section of a piece of music is clearly Mixolydian, in what the melody & music communicate, but it is encompassed as a whole composition, within a key, that does not mean it cannot and shall not be called Mixolydian.

Your method would be, "****IN NOOB ITS IN THE KEY OF G, WITH A BUNCH OF CHROMATIC b7'S". The reason that explanation is unsatisfactory is because it doesn't really communicate anything about what the melody sounds like or is implying. Saying something is in the key of G with accidentals isn't descriptive in any meaningful way. It has b7 accidentals? Does that mean we're seeing a lot of V/IV's? Does that mean the composer is using the b7 as a chromatic passing tone? What does that explanation MEAN? IT doesn't mean a lot, because it isn't descriptive and it purposefully disregards the simplest, and most direct explanation.

If a passage, section, or workable majority of a piece of music is based on or around a mode that is not the major/minor, then it is perhaps satisfactory as a means of explaining the melodic makeup of that piece or section of music.


if you say so, socrates there's a lot you're not taking into account. even a child could tell whether the b7 is acting as a passing tone, or part of a secondary dominant, or related to something still. they might not be able to put it into words, but if even they can tell, then a seasoned musician worth as much as a pile of shit should be able to make heads or tails of something solely with the given "it's in G". worst comes to worst? throw him a chord chart. the things you're taking into account are extremely simple issues that any decent musician can overcome. frankly, i don't think you know shit all about my method, except for the broad (and fallacious) categorization you present of it.

"most" instances? if you really believe that, then i have no problem telling you to go back to basics - i don't care what degree you have. i don't care if you have 17 music doctorates. if you tell me that there is one piece of western music out there that cannot be described using a key or keys, i will tell you to go relearn your intervals. wrong information is wrong information, and credentials are rendered worthless in such an instance.

if mixolydian is a tonality to you, go for it. do your thing. have fun using your 7 notes. i'll be calling it a major key, and remain open to utilizing the possibility of accidentals. if you really want to argue, go ahead and tell me all about how you can have accidentals in a modal piece. shoot yourself in the foot and tell me there are more than two keys. i'm okay with that.

however you want to do it, pal. my motto is "show me better and i will follow". this method is not better - or else i'd be following it. why? because i've seen it countless times before here on UG. it's even been pushed down my throat on a few occasions.

if you think you're too advanced to learn a thing or two, that's fine - it's said that only death can cure a fool. once a fool, always a fool - he is not open to a change in thought process.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:07 PM   #106
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Holy ****ing strawman.

My argument isn't that modes are a more satisfactory explanation in place of keys. My argument is that pretending that reducing every musical composition to a key and using that as the ONLY method of explanation is LIMITING, especially when there is a simpler, more direct explanation.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:08 PM   #107
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:14 PM   #108
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Let me reduce this even more so it can make sense for you, big wolf.

If a piece of music is based on a melodic motif that is diatonic to the G mixolydian mode, with the exception of a cadence point, wherein the V chord is introduced, and thusly, the leading tone. Which explanation is more useful in describing this musical situation:

A. It's in the key of G. Modes don't exist.
B. It's in the key of G, but features a motif that is strongly represented by the Mixolydian mode.

What harm do you come across by using the word mode as a complimentary tool in describing the melodic character/contour of a section or piece of music?

Everything I have read by you can be reduced to "Keys are the only explanatory tool for music", and any claim outside of that very narrow confine is either wrong, ignorant, or misguided.

You shouldn't allow yourself to confine your explanations and understanding of music to some hyperbolic, super specific, no exceptions policy, that's purely a reaction to a common misunderstanding in the GUITAR COMMUNITY.

Please find me a music theory scholar or teacher that is so indignant and apprehensive of the word mode...oh wait...they don't exist.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:35 PM   #109
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i was explaining that modes, in the "modern" sense, are just scales. there isn't a "phrygian dominant" tonality or a "chromatic" tonality, and the way you worded it strongly suggested that the mixolydian scale had a convention to it that was detached from the mode, and at that point it's impossible to argue for conciseness and specificity when it's impossible for somebody to tell whether you're referring to a scale or a tonal derivative of a 400-year-old hymn.

i actually didn't mean to suggest that you were arguing over anything short of what you're comfortable with doing in short-hand - the issue was with the way you worded it more than anything. i have my own problems with approaching things with scales rather than keys in any context, but i'm not gonna bring them into it because the issue is understanding the difference. i'm assuming you do, semantics aside, but when you replace the word "modes" with "scales", it becomes a lot easier to see my viewpoint, i'd like to think.

for example, you'd need to define E mixolydian (the scale) as well as E major (the key) if you were going to define something that resolved on E major and had the notes E F# G# A B C# D. since keys > scales, but they both exist, the idea that you'd define something as either "G mixolydian" or "G major" doesn't mean that they're mutually exclusive, and you'd define it as both if you wished to break the piece down to the scale beyond the tonic and its quality.

i'm having to delete a lot to try and be civilized and impartial without butchering my point, and it's really jarring to use mode names, but i think i can hold off on a rant until we have another "which scale should i learn next??" thread
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:41 PM   #110
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Right. Good point.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:27 PM   #111
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way too many words on this page

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Old 12-14-2012, 09:41 AM   #112
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"What are modes"?

Modes are a way of starting an argument between two or more musicians in an online comment system.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:35 AM   #113
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no shut up i'm drawing a line in the sand from now on you need to define modes as either a system or a series of intervals if you're going to refer to it because otherwise you become homeless
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:22 AM   #114
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"What are modes"?

Modes are systematic means of starting an argument between two or more musicians in an online comment system.

Happy now?
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:18 PM   #115
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Originally Posted by chronowarp
Your method would be, "****IN NOOB ITS IN THE KEY OF G, WITH A BUNCH OF CHROMATIC b7'S". The reason that explanation is unsatisfactory is because it doesn't really communicate anything about what the melody sounds like or is implying. Saying something is in the key of G with accidentals isn't descriptive in any meaningful way. It has b7 accidentals? Does that mean we're seeing a lot of V/IV's? Does that mean the composer is using the b7 as a chromatic passing tone? What does that explanation MEAN? IT doesn't mean a lot, because it isn't descriptive and it purposefully disregards the simplest, and most direct explanation.


You have a point. For a key to truly emulate modal music it would have to be known that accidentals were fixed and constant. With the key system of notation as we have it this is not explicit. It can only be determined by examining the usage of the accidental.

But I don't think the descriptive advantage gained by using mode names is a great one, and in any case an equivalent to it could easily be incorporated into the way we talk about keys.

If we were to append a description of fixed accidentals to the key name, e.g. "G Major (b7)" for Mixolydian, in a similar way to how we described altered chords, it would make the key name fully descriptive. It would also remove the need for mode names (and their concomitant confusion). And it would also add to the sound possibilities - we could explore the use of other fixed accidentals than the ones in the named modes.

We would know the signature sounds of the accidentals in the same way we know the signature sounds of the modes. We would also retain all the advantages of the key system of describing music without needing to learn another system.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:31 PM   #116
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The thing is...any accidental could mean a variety of different things based on the context.

I'm not even saying my hypothetical scenario is an extremely common issue - it's not. I'm simply demonstrating how adhering to "there are only two keys - nothing else matters" isn't ALWAYS the best method of explanation.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:47 AM   #117
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i was explaining that modes, in the "modern" sense, are just scales.


But any scale can be re-arranged to form a chord, just as any chord can be re-arranged to form a (section of a) scale. You can think of modes as either scalar re-arrangements of extended chords, or vice versa.

However you think of them though they don't imply a different tonality, they're just coloration. Except sometimes (e.g. Ionian scale / Major scale; Aeolian scale / Natural minor scale) when they're not coloration because the modal scale is identical to some sequential permutation of the Major / Minor scale.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:45 AM   #118
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But any scale can be re-arranged to form a chord, just as any chord can be re-arranged to form a (section of a) scale. You can think of modes as either scalar re-arrangements of extended chords, or vice versa.


i didn't go into defining or extending the idea of a scale on purpose. i used to get into all kinds of bitch fests with guitarmunky and many others over scales and wanted to take the path of least resistance and not go off on a tangent

in any case, scales fall below keys in terms of functionality and importance. to say that modes and keys can exist together is a misnomer because of the duality of the word - modes (historically) can't coexist with keys because the tonal system swallowed up modality, so it's necessary to define one or the other, while a modal scale (or a scale with accidentals, call it whatever you like) can exist in a key because it's nothing but a series of intervals and in a given key any note is fair play.

similarly, if you say "this piece is in E mixolydian", it should mean it's legitimately modal. more likely, however, you mean to say "this piece is in E major and, more specifically, the E mixolydian scale is emphasized". the scale doesn't tell you what the resolution is - just what notes are in that scale - so it's something that we need to be more conscious of so as to not confuse one another.

again, i have personal thoughts concerning both definitions, and i think most people here have their own understanding of at least one, so depending on syntax it can be very easy to start a shitstorm by misinterpreting a person's thought process. things like "i'm in e mixolydian" are typically misnomers by overstating the boundaries of what a scale is, even if you are in the e mixolydian scale, just by the wording suggesting that you mean the song is functionally modal in the same way "i'm in e major" would suggest that you're in the key of e major rather than someone assuming you're using the e major scale.

it's all down to semantics, but most of us are really serious about what we do, especially those who are working for/have degrees and who teach regularly, and semantics and details become a pretty big source of contention.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:44 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by Jehannum
For a key to truly emulate modal music it would have to be known that accidentals were fixed and constant. With the key system of notation as we have it this is not explicit. It can only be determined by examining the usage of the accidental.


Except accidentals were used in modal music...
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Old 12-15-2012, 08:50 PM   #120
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