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johnyere
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#1
Modes keep coming up whenever im on these forums, and i wanted to know what they are and what their purpose is.
will42
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#2
Short Answer: Don't ask.

Long Answer: Please don't ask.

Helpful answer: They are a fairly outdated method of musical analysis. Don't concern yourself with them. Focus on learning theory, keys, chords and intervals before you get anywehre near the modes.
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Quote by AeolianWolf
absolutely what will said

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AeolianWolf
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#3
1) the number that appears most often in a set of integers.

in {12, 23, 23, 45, 67, 89}, the mode is 23.


2) a way or manner in which something is experienced or done.

"in automatic mode", "on hard mode"


3) a big pile of ****.

mixolydian b2, double harmonic, superlocrian b2 nat.7, betty, lydian dominant
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
Last edited by AeolianWolf at Dec 3, 2012,
will42
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#4
That too ^
Strauss!
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absolutely what will said

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Xiaoxi
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#5
I love betty.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Junior#1
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#6
Modes are completely useless unless you have an extremely, EXTREMELY good understanding of at least the major scale. Until you learn that, forget you ever heard the word 'modes'.
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wolflen
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#7
mixolydian b2, double harmonic, superlocrian b2 nat.7, betty, lydian dominant

now...betty must be the benny golson "along came betty" person...sheryl bailey does a hot rendition of it...who is sheryl bailey you might ask... http://www.sherylbailey.com/ a very nice surprise...and she does not modal on the first date....

wolf
johnyere
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#8
lol, i should've probably included that i always see negative things about modes whenever im on these forums...
Pierre-Claude
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#9
Modes are BASED of of the mafor scale. They are used to evoke diferent feelings than your typical minor (sad) major (happy) scales
AlanHB
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#10
Johnnyere, to turn the table back on you, what are keys? Can you listen to a song and identify what key it's in?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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helltothee
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#11
Something like playing a certain key in another key signature?
Like playing an F major with a B natural (so the "other" key signature is C)
That's my understanding of it. I may be wrong.

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AeolianWolf
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#12
Quote by Pierre-Claude
Modes are BASED of of the mafor scale. They are used to evoke diferent feelings than your typical minor (sad) major (happy) scales


haha no.

Quote by johnyere
lol, i should've probably included that i always see negative things about modes whenever im on these forums...


it's not that there's anything bad about modes. there isn't really. but so many musicians (by far, the majority are guitarists) think that they're the holy grail of music. then again, a lot of guitarists think of music as using seven million different scales with absolutely no prerequisite musical knowledge, so there's that.

modes are actually good to know, but you're far better off working with the key system we have in place today. it obsolesced the modal system of the renaissance/early baroque eras for a reason.

but to be helpful, i will actually give you a definition of what a mode is.

if you take a scale (say, the major scale, for simplicity's sake), you rearrange the notes (from C D E F G A B to D E F G A B C) and you change your tonic (home note) to a different note (instead of having C as the tonic, you'd make D the tonic), you now have a mode. since there are seven notes in a major scale, there are seven possible modes of the major scale (one for each note as the tonic).

if you're playing in C major and you start a run on E, you are not playing E phrygian. it does not work that way.

people will say that you can have modal music, and that's true, but ultimately it's far more beneficial to think in keys. leonard bernstein can say what he wants about there being more than two keys (which 20T mentioned in the other thread [and which leonard bernstein never actually said, lol, but for the sake of the argument i'll assume it to be true]), but, ultimately, the opinion of a few educated and talented musicians simply is not going to be enough to change the way the everyday person hears something. western music has been in keys for over three hundred years, and it's a control that we, as humans, have become accustomed to, subconsciously or otherwise.

modes are very simple things that are glibly touted by some, and blindly bashed by others. but then there are those of us who see them for what they are while not losing sight of the big picture, understand their use, and who also understand that they're not really important. ultimately, it's important to get to know them, if only because it's how some musicians choose to communicate (be it correct or otherwise).

but there are more important things to focus on first.
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johnyere
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#13
AlanHB, from my understanding, the key note is "home base." and no im not at the level where i can listen to a song and identify the key.
johnyere
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#14
AeolianWolf thanks for the reply... just one question, what do you mean when you're referring to the "key system we have in place today"? are you just talking about regular keys (for example, this song is in the key of G).
MaggaraMarine
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#15
Quote by johnyere
lol, i should've probably included that i always see negative things about modes whenever im on these forums...

There are negative things about modes in this forum because when you start talking about modes, some stupid will start a "mode war." There's always somebody that says that a song is modal and even if people argue against it, he just doesn't listen to them. (We had the worst mode war I have seen in the weekend. But it really wasn't even a mode war, it was something about being homeless but it started with modes.)

I think it's still good to know how different modes sound, even if you weren't using them "the original way."
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AeolianWolf
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#16
Quote by johnyere
AeolianWolf thanks for the reply... just one question, what do you mean when you're referring to the "key system we have in place today"? are you just talking about regular keys (for example, this song is in the key of G).


yep. once you know keys (and i mean really know keys), you're pretty much set. nothing wrong with learning modes after that, but for the love of god, don't do it before learning keys.
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z4twenny
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#17
Quote by MaggaraMariine
We had the worst mode war I have seen in the weekend. But it really wasn't even a mode war, it was something about being homeless but it started with modes.)

Moral of the story being that modes will make you homeless
Hail
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#18
i wonder what the 7 modes are of being homeless
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CryogenicHusk
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#19
Quote by z4twenny
Moral of the story being that modes will make you homeless

91RG350
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#20
Quote by AeolianWolf

if you take a scale (say, the major scale, for simplicity's sake), you rearrange the notes (from C D E F G A B to D E F G A B C) and you change your tonic (home note) to a different note (instead of having C as the tonic, you'd make D the tonic), you now have a mode.

wording is everything... a noob, not paying attention and reading every word in context, will think "If I start on D then Im playing a mode".... the original step pattern of the major scale also comes into play.... which results in an accidental, passing note, mode note, grail note, whatever the frick you want to call it.... because its got to be called something.... just gotta....be called..summin...
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Morphogenesis26
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#21
Quote by Hail
i wonder what the 7 modes are of being homeless


Ionian Mode - I decided to be homeless homeless mode

Dorian - I got my shit stolen homeless mode

Phrygian - My left hand got broke homeless mode

Lydian - My right hand got broke homeless mode

Mixolydian - Can't use my pinky no more homeless mode

Aeolian - Fell in love with james hetfield homeless mode

Locrian - Gonna film an internet forum 'cause I'm homeless homeless mode
20Tigers
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#22
I'm just working out some ideas here and using this forum as a sounding board. I do appreciate a valid discussion and exchange of ideas. If you're sick of modes - don't bother.

A key defines the tonal centre and by extension the relationship of all the possible notes in a composition to that tonal centre.

Mode, in the widest sense of the word denotes the selection of tones, (sometimes expressed as a scale), that form the basic tonal substance of a composition. In any given key a large number of modes are possible. (E.G. The Dorian mode, the phrygian mode, the major mode usually called the major key, the minor mode usually called the minor key...)

For most of the last 200 odd years the Western Music scene has been dominated by two modes - Major and minor. The majority of what you will learn when you study music theory is about the use and function of these two modes specifically.

In a narrower sense of the term "modes" refers to the church modes (as described in a previous post by Aeolian Wolf) each of which is one possible mode within a given key.

------
Quote by AeolianWolf
leonard bernstein can say what he wants about there being more than two keys (which 20T mentioned in the other thread [and which leonard bernstein never actually said, lol, but for the sake of the argument i'll assume it to be true])
He did not say that there were more than two keys. He said that major and minor were modes and that that they were only two of many possible modes. Here are the quotes again:
Quote by Leonard Bernstein
But the important thing to remember about mode is that major and minor, are modes. But they are only two modes out of a much larger number of possible ones.

Quote by Leonard Bernstein
From about the time of Bach until the beginning of our own century—roughly two hundred years—our Western music has been based almost exclusively on only two modes—the major and the minor. I can't go into the whys and wherefores of it now, but it's true. And since most of the music we hear in concerts today was written during that two hundred-year period, we get to think that major and minor modes are all there are. But the history of music is much longer than a mere two hundred years. There was an awful lot of music sung and played before Bach, using all kinds of other modes. And in the music of our own century, when composers have gotten tired of being stuck with major and minor all the time, there has been a big revival of those old pre-Bach modes. That's why Debussy used them so much, and other modern composers like Hindemith and Stravinsky, and almost all the young song writers of today's exciting pop music scene.

As you claim he didn't actually say this before generously giving me the benefit of the doubt here are those exact words coming out of his own mouth:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWtUCAYV3so#t=02m11s

What he is saying here is pretty much the same as what I described earlier in this same post. (Much of which is lifted almost directly from a different source - namely the Harvard Dictionary of Music).

Howard Goodall offers some interesting views some of which seem at first to contradict himself.

He starts by describing modes in a way that fits very neatly with what was described above
Quote by Howard Goodall
There are ancient patterns and arrangements of notes that function as archetypes for millions of melodies. Over time these archetypes have been arranged into note groups or scales that give the composer, or improvising musician, a template with which to begin. Different cultures have developed their own sets, as you'd expect, but the concept of note families is basic to us all. These note groups, or scales, are called modes.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dalL5FpWR8#t=05m40s
On it's own this explanation of what modes are seems to be perfectly in line with calling major and minor "modes" in the same way Bernstein and the Harvard Dictionary of Music does above.

In this same series when Goodall hints at the melodic revolution brought about by classical music (namely the move to a key based system which he describes as "diatonic") he states that we still write music according to these changes no matter what our musical background. He describes the new minor key as "all purpose" and describes how robust this new system is and further claims that
Quote by Howard Goodall
Every single song that has been a hit in the last hundred years has been completely diatonic


Then, and this is the part that at first had me confused, he goes on to describe how the major/minor key based system dominated for about 200 years and then
Quote by Howard Goodall
cutting edge composers felt bored and limited by what they saw as the straightjacket of the major minor system. So they started to look for inspiration elsewhere. Ironically they sought help from those old folk and ecclesiastical modes.
Later in the same episode he describes a Sting song as Dorian and in another series he describes Eleanor Rigby as being Dorian.

So one minute he explains the revolution of the "diatonic" key based system as replacing the older mode system, he describes the new system as all purpose that we write using this system no matter what our background and that every single song that has been a hit without exception has been diatonic. Then goes and describes a hit within the last hundred years as modal.

At first it seems almost a contradiction. But on further contemplation, maybe it's not. The key based system replaced an older system of modes. That old modal system had distinct disadvantages. Instruments were made to work in certain modes and not others. Each mode was pretty much tied to a specific pitch and had specific rules around note range and movement. The new transposable key system was quite a revolution (though my understnding is that it happened gradually).

Much later when those "cutting edge" composers looked to the modes for inspiration they reinterpreted the modes through the context of 200 years of key based tonal thinking (what Goodall describes as diatonic). The modes were brought back within this new framework. So although they were bringing forward the intervallic structure of the church modes they left behind the restrictive system upon which they were based in favour of the more flexible and improved key based system. Only now instead of sticking with the major and minor modes they would introduce dorian mixolydian or phrygian modes into the music they were composing and it could still be, as Goodall says, diatonic.

note for noobs this is not necessarily the strictest definition of the term diatonic. Most theorists agree that if a composition is strictly diatonic then it sticks to the notes of the diatonic major scale. The key based system is not necessarily diatonic in that keys do allow for inclusion of chromatic variations.
Si
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#23
A key defines the tonal centre and by extension the relationship of all the possible notes in a composition to that tonal centre. Mode, in the widest sense of the word denotes the selection of tones, arranged in a scale, that form the basic tonal substance of a composition. In any given key a large number of modes are possible. (E.G. The Dorian mode, the phrygian mode, the major mode usually called the major key, the minor mode usually called the minor key...)


I think, given the first sentence, I'd maybe either qualify or remove the use of the word 'tonal' in the emboldened section. Modes provide the tones that a composition uses, but that composition isn't necessarily going to be tonal.

In a narrower sense of the term "modes" refers to the church modes (as described in a previous post by Aeolian Wolf) each of which is one possible mode within a given key.


Maybe talk about different senses of the word 'mode' rather than broader and narrower senses, just because each sense has its own contribution to make and the entire sense of the word is just all of those senses added together.

That old modal system had distinct disadvantages. Instruments were made to work in certain modes and not others. Each mode was pretty much tied to a specific pitch and had specific rules around note range and movement. The new transposable key system was quite a revolution (though my understnding is that it happened gradually).


I'd question that the movement beyond modes has to do with inherent disadvantages (although I agree that restrictions of any particular system of music may strike progressives as a disadvantage). It strikes me that it's more likely that composers wanted to explore different kinds of music (for a variety of different reasons) and this - by degrees - led away from modes and from the systems of tuning that were employed when modes were the only kind of music being written. It's the same throughout musical history: There's nothing inherently wrong with Plainchant, Renaissance, Classical, Romantic, or Atonal music, but if you're a creative artist who wants to push the boundaries then you're going to want to do 'something else' and that's probably going to involve writing something which takes some elements from the tradition you inherit and adds something distinctive and new to it.

On your point about "instruments being made to work in certain modes" ... this may be true for certain types of instruments such as recorders where it's difficult to adjust the relative pitch of the notes on the instrument, but it's not true for stringed instruments such viols. The problem here sort-of relates to modes and sort-of doesn't. It sort-of relates to modes because temperament problems aren't so obvious if you a) don't use tertian harmony and b) don't modulate. It's these two innovations (tertian harmony, modulation) that drive the requirement for new temperaments (Meantone (replacing Pythagorean - because of problems with major thirds in Pythagorean tuning), and Equal (replacing Meantone - because of problems modulating when using Meantone temperament). And that's the reason that the problem sort-of doesn't relate to modes: Temperament problems have to do with the interaction of one pitch with another, rather than the scale-type being used.

Much later when those "cutting edge" composers looked to the modes for inspiration they reinterpreted the modes through the context of 200 years of key based tonal thinking (what Goodall describes as diatonic). The modes were brought back within this new framework. So although they were bringing forward the intervallic structure of the church modes they left behind the restrictive system upon which they were based in favour of the more flexible and improved key based system. Only now instead of sticking with the major and minor modes they would introduce dorian mixolydian or phrygian modes into the music they were composing and it could still be, as Goodall says, diatonic.


Not sure about the word 'improved' in the emboldened section. Is oil-based painting an improvement over water-colours? What about rhyming over alliteration? I agree it's tempting to see the later system as an improvement, but I tend to the opinion that it adds another means of creating music to your palette. And that means of creating music comes with restrictions of its own. In the same way the 12-tone method has its own restrictions. Does it supersede tonal music? Well, it's discovered / invented later than tonal music.
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gabipe15
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#24
Modes are the best way to change your only pentatonic stuff.

Try using low E String as root note, and practice different intervals on A string.
You'll see then that modes are not a pile of ****.
AeolianWolf
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#25
Quote by 20Tigers
In a narrower sense of the term "modes" refers to the church modes (as described in a previous post by Aeolian Wolf) each of which is one possible mode within a given key.

He did not say that there were more than two keys.


of course there are more than two modes. but i legitimately thought that you said that bernstein thought that there were more than two keys. i went back to quote it but i can't find it, so i'm guessing i probably misread something somewhere -- i was sure i saw it, though. but since i can't find it, that entire portion of my argument is moot, so i apologize for that.

Quote by gabipe15
Modes are the best way to change your only pentatonic stuff.

Try using low E String as root note, and practice different intervals on A string.
You'll see then that modes are not a pile of ****.


it looks to me like you don't know enough theory to discern why they're a pile of ****.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
Last edited by AeolianWolf at Dec 4, 2012,
amonamarthmetal
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#26
Quote by z4twenny
Moral of the story being that modes will make you homeless

So tempting to sig
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20Tigers
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#28
Quote by AeolianWolf
of course there are more than two modes. but i legitimately thought that you said that bernstein thought that there were more than two keys. i went back to quote it but i can't find it, so i'm guessing i probably misread something somewhere -- i was sure i saw it, though. but since i can't find it, that entire portion of my argument is moot, so i apologize for that.

Another quote from the same Bernstein show supports a consistent message you put forth in regard to modes:
Quote by Bernstein
I am happy and proud to welcome you to our tenth season of Young People's Concerts. Imagine, it's been a whole decade we've been playing and talking about music for you. And I don't know how much you've actually learned, but I like to think we must be doing something right, because—well, because it's our tenth season...

...And that brings us to our subject: What is a mode? ...

... I wouldn't have dreamed of bothering you with them, except for an incident that happened a few months ago.


Ten years of doing these programmes and if it hadn't been for his daughter happening across a song that uses modes and insisting he cover them in one of his programmes he wouldn't have even brought them up.

Imagine that - ten years of discussing music without mentioning modes.
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Jehannum
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#29
Quote by 20Tigers

Imagine that - ten years of discussing music without mentioning modes.


Lucky to get 10 minutes here!
gabipe15
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#30
Quote by AeolianWolf
it looks to me like you don't know enough theory to discern why they're a pile of ****.



Let's see your theory knowledge, so you explain us all why modes are a pile of ****, you could try explaining them to every contemporary artist too, cause' as what i'm aware, everyone of them use modal variations in many of their albums.
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#32
Quote by gabipe15
Let's see your theory knowledge, so you explain us all why modes are a pile of ****, you could try explaining them to every contemporary artist too, cause' as what i'm aware, everyone of them use modal variations in many of their albums.


Oftentimes, what people call 'modal variations' are nothing of the sort. Certainly if you're claiming that every contemporary artist uses modes, you are wrong. It's not that modes are a pile of shit, it's that most of cited contemporary examples aren't actually modal.
mdc
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#33
Modes: 0:55 - 1:28

Am11 - Amaj7#11 - Dm11 - -Gma7#11

A Dorian - A Lydian - D Dorian - G Lydian

-3-4-3-3
-3-4-3-3
-5-6-5-4
-5-6-3-4
-0-0-5-x
-------3


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv-fcUPOqOw

Modes exist.
GoldenGuitar
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#34
Quote by gabipe15
Modes are the best way to change your only pentatonic stuff.

Try using low E String as root note, and practice different intervals on A string.
You'll see then that modes are not a pile of ****.

From this comment, it seems like you know absolutely shit all.

Quote by gabipe15
Let's see your theory knowledge, so you explain us all why modes are a pile of ****, you could try explaining them to every contemporary artist too, cause' as what i'm aware, everyone of them use modal variations in many of their albums.

Go back and read every mode thread you see, and you'll see that AeolianWolf has explained it more than enough times. In fact, I've had my fair share of arguments with him. And although I don't completely agree with him on every aspect about modes, one thing I know for sure is that he REALLY KNOWS HIS SHIT.
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#35
Ima go jam in the B hypo-mixo-phrygo-lydo mode now. maybe throw some Dorio-Oreo-Ionio into the mix. Tell me i aint being modal yo.
macashmack
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#37
Yea with a nice cold glass of milk, the double stuffed Oreo's are very nice.
AeolianWolf
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#39
Quote by gabipe15
Let's see your theory knowledge, so you explain us all why modes are a pile of ****, you could try explaining them to every contemporary artist too, cause' as what i'm aware, everyone of them use modal variations in many of their albums.


really? then your awareness is pretty limited.

i suppose i could completely overwhelm you, but there's no victory there for anyone. i end up looking like a douche, and you end up confused. so let's play this the constructive way.

first, i need you to explain to me why a composition using the notes E F# G# A B C# and D could not be explained as being tonal, and being in the key of E major.

i am expecting a valid argument from you, since you decided to call me out. don't disappoint me (although experience dictates that you will).

Quote by GoldenGuitar
Go back and read every mode thread you see, and you'll see that AeolianWolf has explained it more than enough times. In fact, I've had my fair share of arguments with him. And although I don't completely agree with him on every aspect about modes, one thing I know for sure is that he REALLY KNOWS HIS SHIT.


grazie

this world would be boring as shit if we all agreed. but there's a difference between a disagreement between correct and incorrect viewpoints, and two valid viewpoints that disagree.

i like to think the arguments i have with you are better described as being in the latter.

Quote by Jehannum
Oftentimes, what people call 'modal variations' are nothing of the sort. Certainly if you're claiming that every contemporary artist uses modes, you are wrong. It's not that modes are a pile of shit, it's that most of cited contemporary examples aren't actually modal.


no one ever said they were a pile of shit. i said they were a pile of fuck.

what i'm starting to realize (and that it's actually really funny) is that every mode thread argument we get into is exactly the same - some ignoramus comes along and completely ignores all the previous arguments, so we end up fighting the same battles anew.

eh, i guess it's kind of fun, anyway. gotta stay sharp, know what i mean?
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
Hail
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#40
Quote by AeolianWolf


what i'm starting to realize (and that it's actually really funny) is that every mode thread argument we get into is exactly the same - some ignoramus comes along and completely ignores all the previous arguments, so we end up fighting the same battles anew.

eh, i guess it's kind of fun, anyway. gotta stay sharp, know what i mean?


we've actually been adding cooking videos to piss off 20T and salivate amongst ourselves lately

speaking of
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkStA4EHxMg
Quote by theogonia777
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