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#1
I understand modes well enough and their parallel/relative scale relationships, but this has always confused me. What is the functional difference between the Aeolian mode and the minor scale?

From what I gathered so far, minor is tonal while Aeolian is modal (not entirely sure what this implies). This is somehow related to the leading tone (the VII). You can sharp the vii of a minor scale to lead back to the i, but you can't do that in aeolian or it will lose its modality and something bad happens. bleh.
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#2
You answered your own question. That's exactly what I was going to say if you didn't.

Is there something you don't understand about it?
#3
Minor refers to the minor tonality. All this means is that the tonic harmony is minor, ie C Eb G.

That is all that tonality implies. Any harmony and chromaticism (all 12 tones) can occur within it. Same with major.

But in Aeolian, it is strictly limited to the 7 diatonic notes starting on a particular tone, meaning no dominant G to go back to C minor, because the B natural needed as a leading tone is not available in C aeolian.

Basically, forget about modes.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#4
Quote by Xiaoxi
Minor refers to the minor tonality. All this means is that the tonic harmony is minor, ie C Eb G.

That is all that tonality implies. Any harmony and chromaticism (all 12 tones) can occur within it. Same with major.

But in Aeolian, it is strictly limited to the 7 diatonic notes starting on a particular tone, meaning no dominant G to go back to C minor, because the B natural needed as a leading tone is not available in C aeolian.

Basically, forget about modes.


So you're saying that something modal is limited to that specific pattern of whole and half steps (WWHWWWHWWHWWWH...), making it extremely rigid. If you're not following the 7 diatonic notes, you're doing it wrong.

But tonal music is not so locked in, because for something to be "minor" it only needs to have the I iii and V scale degrees as the tonic harmony. Shifting things like the leading tone just makes it a harmonic minor etc.

But suppose you were playing along with a blues progression, which often has lots of dominant 7 chords. My music teacher told me that you can play the mixolydian mode over them. How would you describe this in tonal terms?

And I can't forget about modes, I have a theory quiz on them this afternoon
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Last edited by fearofthemark at Apr 5, 2012,
#5
Quote by fearofthemark
So you're saying that something modal is limited to that specific pattern of whole and half steps (WWHWWWHWWHWWWH...), making it extremely rigid. If you're not following the 7 diatonic notes, you're doing it wrong.

But tonal music is not so locked in, because for something to be "minor" it only needs to have the I iii and V scale degrees as the tonic harmony. Shifting things like the leading tone just makes it a harmonic minor etc.

But suppose you were playing along with a blues progression, which often has lots of dominant 7 chords. My music teacher told me that you can play the mixolydian mode over them. How would you describe this in tonal terms?

And I can't forget about modes, I have a theory quiz on them this afternoon

That would be described as a "blues", which doesn't conveniently conform to the basic tenants of tonal harmony or modal music.

Blues music is based on African folk melody and improvisation...and it's only when Africans were brought here that their improvisational vocal style got combined with the basic harmonic underpinnings that most western music adheres to in 'MERCA.

Your music teacher telling you to try mixolydian over each chord in a blues is just an approach based on playing "the chord", since the notes in the mixolydian scale all fit nicely (Except the 4th) over a dom7, which every chord in a blues happens to be.

But...i'd suggest if you want to actually sound "bluesy" that you don't take that approach.
Last edited by chronowarp at Apr 5, 2012,
#6
Quote by fearofthemark
I guess I don't really understand the conceptual differences between the terms "tonal" and "modal." Why, when both scales sound identical, with the same tonics, is it okay to raise the vii if you're playing in minor (getting you the harmonic minor) but not okay to raise the vii in Aeolian? If a song is written in a minor key and doesn't ever use the harmonic minor scale, how do I know that it's in minor rather than Aeolian? What difference does it really make?


The chords. Songs in minor would have a V or a viidim which has a strong pull to the tonic. Songs in Aeolian would have a v or VII which doesn't establish the tonic as well. This is why it is difficult to write in modes, because it most likely wants to resolve somewhere else.
#7
Quote by fearofthemark
So you're saying that something modal is limited to that specific pattern of whole and half steps (WWHWWWHWWHWWWH...), making it extremely rigid. If you're not following the 7 diatonic notes, you're doing it wrong.
Well, not "doing it wrong", it's just if there's any hint of chromaticism at all, it's simply not modal anymore. Some other guys can get into the whole modal harmony in better details, but I simply see it as obsolete.

But tonal music is not so locked in, because for something to be "minor" it only needs to have the I iii and V scale degrees as the tonic harmony. Shifting things like the leading tone just makes it a harmonic minor etc.
Just forget about the scales. The whole natural/melodic/harmonic scale thing is just artificial models. In reality, in C minor, these notes are available: C, C#/Db, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G, Ab, A, Bb, B. Stop thinking if the B belongs to harmonic or melodic. Simply use it knowing that it is a leading tone into C. Likewise, the F# is a leading tone to the G, C# is a leading tone to the D, Db is a downward leading tone into C, etc.

But suppose you were playing along with a blues progression, which often has lots of dominant 7 chords. My music teacher told me that you can play the mixolydian mode over them. How would you describe this in tonal terms?

This is going beyond traditional harmony.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#8
Quote by fearofthemark

But suppose you were playing along with a blues progression, which often has lots of dominant 7 chords. My music teacher told me that you can play the mixolydian mode over them. How would you describe this in tonal terms?

And I can't forget about modes, I have a theory quiz on them this afternoon
Well, if you were improvising over a blues progression of V7 chords, how could it be "mixo" in the first place? You might get away with using the mixo scale pattern over those chords, but the music itself wouldn't be modal.


Here again, I'm going to suggest downloading, "99 Essential Gregorian Chants". They should be 100% modal, and you can decide if you want to actually sound like that on a day to day basis.

Am I kidding? I wish I knew that myself.

And don't pay any attention to anything I say, since I've already been declared incompetent and insane. Although, I'm not really sure about the order thereof.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Apr 5, 2012,
#9
Quote by d1sturbed4eva
The chords. Songs in minor would have a V or a viidim which has a strong pull to the tonic. Songs in Aeolian would have a v or VII which doesn't establish the tonic as well. This is why it is difficult to write in modes, because it most likely wants to resolve somewhere else.


I think I accidentally my first reply

If you're playing a V or viidim, you're not in the natural minor scale any more. But that doesn't matter because they resolve better than a v or VII do. So modes are restricted to those 7 tones, but if you're only thinking in terms of major/minor, you don't have to stick to their vanilla scales, but can shift notes around accordingly.
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#10
Maybe I missed something, but I'm pretty sure that you guys have some details wrong here. A few people here have mentioned that "something in a minor key would have a V and a dimvii. No.

Don't mean to sound like a dick, but I just thought I would point that out. It seems like you guys were just talking as if it was major, that would be correct, but at least one guy was talking about minor.
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#11
^ Lol.

Key systems are defined by a minor or minor tonic and a dominant-tonic relationship. If it doesn't have a V it's not in a minor/major key. That is the most basic prerequisite and the determining factor.
#12
Quote by JimDawson
Maybe I missed something, but I'm pretty sure that you guys have some details wrong here. A few people here have mentioned that "something in a minor key would have a V and a dimvii. No.


Yes. Find me one song in minor that doesn't use a V. That's why harmonic minor exists in the first place. In the rare occasion that a song ONLY uses the natural minor scale, then I would say that it is in Aeolian.
#13
Each mode was characterized by particular melodic patterns, outlines and shapes. These shapes formed the main skeleton of modal music, and were used in different orders and filled in using passing notes.

Plainchant modes are not the same as scales, a mode is characterized by a set of pitches and complex melodic patterns. Modal music never included full scalar passages spanning the whole octave.

A minor key is is a tonality based around a minor chord i. As Xioaxi said, all 12 notes can occur within this key.
Last edited by griffRG7321 at Apr 5, 2012,
#14
Well, if I made a chord rooted from the fifth degree of C minor like:G,Bb,D it's a minor chord and not major. In natural minor the fifth chord would be minor unless you altered it somehow because that's how you roll.

I got mixed up on my details of which minor you guys were talking about there, my bad.

But explain how something "isn't in a major/minor key" if it doesn't have a V. If it resolves the way you want it to fine, but personal preferences aside how could you say it's not in a minor key when G,Bb,D make a minor triad from the fifth degree of C natural minor?
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#15
Quote by JimDawson
how could you say it's not in a minor key when G,Bb,D make a minor triad from the fifth degree of C natural minor?


The V chord tells you where I/i is. Yes you can have a v in minor but v-i isn't nearly as strong as V-i and it doesn't really establish the tonic chord.

If you don't believe me, play Gm-Cm. Noticed how it doesn't sound resolved. Then play G-Cm.
#16
If you have a theory test on modes this afternoon you came to the wrong place for clarification.

good luck though.
Si
#17
Quote by d1sturbed4eva
Yes you can have a v in minor


kthxbye
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#18
Quote by 20Tigers
If you have a theory test on modes this afternoon you came to the wrong place for clarification.

good luck though.


It's just a quick quiz, and I know everything that'll be covered (he gives us a passage, we determine the tonic and mode of the song). it's an intro class, so it doesn't delve at all into the difference between tonal and modal music. I just want to learn MOAR!
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#19
Quote by fearofthemark
I understand modes well enough and their parallel/relative scale relationships, but this has always confused me. What is the functional difference between the Aeolian mode and the minor scale?

From what I gathered so far, minor is tonal while Aeolian is modal (not entirely sure what this implies). This is somehow related to the leading tone (the VII). You can sharp the vii of a minor scale to lead back to the i, but you can't do that in aeolian or it will lose its modality and something bad happens. bleh.


well, the scales are exactly the same. (aeolian and natural minor)

There is a difference between a minor key, and the aeolian mode, in that a minor key implies all of the conventions that developed in the CPE such as having the V chord or including borrowed chords, where the aeolian mode would not.

That said, there is no reason to worry about losing modality, or anything "bad" happening.
If you write something in "aeolian" and decide you want a stronger pull from V to i, just use V to i..... so it's "not aeolian" anymore..... does it really matter?

btw, if you want to do something with modes, I'd focus on the ones that actually offer some different colors. Aeolian is kinda pointless, when you could just use a minor key, and all that is available with it. (same with Ionian/Major)

dorian, lydian, phrygian, mixolydian..... those will give a unique sound/different color
shred is gaudy music
#20
Quote by GuitarMunky

btw, if you want to do something with modes, I'd focus on the ones that actually offer some different colors. Aeolian is kinda pointless, when you could just use a minor key, and all that is available with it. (same with all the other modes)



Fixed, IMO.
#21
Just need to be emphasized that a lot of people use the word "Aeolian" as a synonym for natural minor.
#22
Quote by griffRG7321
Fixed, IMO.


You didn't fix it, you changed it, (and made it look like I said it). I definitely don't agree with the "fix".
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Apr 5, 2012,
#23
Quote by JimDawson
Well, if I made a chord rooted from the fifth degree of C minor like:G,Bb,D it's a minor chord and not major. In natural minor the fifth chord would be minor unless you altered it somehow because that's how you roll.

I got mixed up on my details of which minor you guys were talking about there, my bad.

But explain how something "isn't in a major/minor key" if it doesn't have a V. If it resolves the way you want it to fine, but personal preferences aside how could you say it's not in a minor key when G,Bb,D make a minor triad from the fifth degree of C natural minor?


Keys are defined by:
1. Major/Minor tonic
2. V-I(i) relationship.
3. Any chromatic harmony is possible so long as it still resolves via V-I.

Modes on the other hand are inclusive are cease to exist when chromatic harmony, functional harmony, or outside melody are introduced.

the Key of C minor is different than C aeolian, because the key of C minor is implied to be a fucntional key, in other words, it will have a V chord.
#24
Quote by d1sturbed4eva
Yes. Find me one song in minor that doesn't use a V.

Stairway to Heaven.
Si
#26
Quote by GuitarMunky
well, the scales are exactly the same. (aeolian and natural minor)

There is a difference between a minor key, and the aeolian mode, in that a minor key implies all of the conventions that developed in the CPE such as having the V chord or including borrowed chords, where the aeolian mode would not.

That said, there is no reason to worry about losing modality, or anything "bad" happening.
If you write something in "aeolian" and decide you want a stronger pull from V to i, just use V to i..... so it's "not aeolian" anymore..... does it really matter?

btw, if you want to do something with modes, I'd focus on the ones that actually offer some different colors. Aeolian is kinda pointless, when you could just use a minor key, and all that is available with it. (same with Ionian/Major)

dorian, lydian, phrygian, mixolydian..... those will give a unique sound/different color


I used Aeolian in my example because it sounds identical to natural minor. I just wanted to know the difference between the two,
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#27
I dont get why some people are saying that if I write a song in A minor it MUST contain an E chord. Thats crazy talk.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#28
Quote by JimDawson
kthxbye


I wasn't agreeing with you. It's true that you can have a v in minor but it doesn't function as a dominant chord. That's why you can use a V.

Quote by Hydra150
I dont get why some people are saying that if I write a song in A minor it MUST contain an E chord. Thats crazy talk.


If I said that, I apologize.

Let me rephrase it; you will rarely find a song in minor that only uses the natural form. It doesn't have to have a V chord, but it has to have a leading tone.
#30
Quote by chronowarp
Aeolian, not minor.

Did you just say that Stairway to Heaven is modal?
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#31
Quote by Hydra150
Did you just say that Stairway to Heaven is modal?


Isn't all the harmony diatonic to the aeolian mode? No? You could make a case either way. And it does have a lot of modal "moves" like bVII-i
Last edited by chronowarp at Apr 5, 2012,
#32
Quote by chronowarp
Isn't all the harmony diatonic to the aeolian mode? No? You could make a case either way.


edit:
Quote by chronowarp
And it does have a lot of modal "moves" like bVII-i

It also has a D major chord, are you now going to argue that it is in A Dorian?
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Apr 5, 2012,
#35
aeolian implies that the composition is completely based on scales, while minor implies that the composition was made through modern, sophisticated methods of melodic and harmonic development.
#36
Quote by TMVATDI
aeolian implies that the composition is completely based on scales, while minor implies that the composition was made through modern, sophisticated methods of melodic and harmonic development.


Modal music was not scalar. Aeolian implies a specific set of conventions in regard to note choice, patterns and melodic shape.
#37
unless I'm much mistakes, the harmony of the first lines of stairway go

Am - Eadd13/G# - Am7/G - D/F# - Fmaj7 - G/B - Am

That doesn't seem very modal to me... with that chromatically descending bassline and all... plus the V (6-3) - I (6)... seems very diatonic to A minor
Quote by Xiaoxi
The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
#38
Quote by griffRG7321
Aeolian implies a specific set of conventions in regard to note choice, patterns and melodic shape.

Not in this century it doesnt. These days, Aeolian implies a guitarist with a shaky foundation in theory learning from YouTube lessons and interviews from their favourite shredders who exhort the learning of modes as a means to virtuosity.

edit: I think we should stop discussing stairway, it shouldnt be brought up in a discussion about modes.
(Invalid img)
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Apr 5, 2012,
#39
^lmao

I love that scene
Quote by Xiaoxi
The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
#40
So then, we'll just have to call the song, "Stairway to Contention"....
Quote by Hydra150
Did you just say that Stairway to Heaven is modal?

Just for laughs, since the progression in the verses always comes back, ("resolves" )to C major, I'm going to say it's in C major, with the coda being in A minor. Then too, there's the whole intro thing, which could be argued directly into the key of B minor....jus' sayin'..... :Although, the Bm and D major in the intro could, I suppose, be a ii & a IV chord in Am.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Apr 5, 2012,
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