#1
Quick question using Minor Scale (Aeolian mode):

Why say I- II- bIII- IV- V- bVI-bVII- I

instead of VI-VII-I-II-III-IV-V-VI?
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

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#2
Quote by eric_wearing
Quick question using Minor Scale (Aeolian mode):

Why say I- II- bIII- IV- V- bVI-bVII- I

instead of VI-VII-I-II-III-IV-V-VI?


First of all, Aeolian mode has nothing at all to do with this. Not one thing.

Second of all, because those symbols relate to chord functions. I is the home chord, so it's always the namesake chord for the scale. V is the dominant, so it has to be a chord that resolves to the tonic etc.
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#3
Because the tonic is always the I. In A minor A is the tonic. A minor is not the same thing as C major - actually they are quite different. The only thing in common with them is that both key scales share the same notes.

It's all about the tonic.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 14, 2015,
#4
EDIT: Ohhh the naming of the scale/key requires that the tonic share the name. Thanks, this has been on my mind since learning theory. [Edit over]

I'm sorry, I just assumed all these years that the Aeolian mode and minor key are one in the same. Not to quickly turn this into a mode thread but what's the difference?
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

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To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

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Last edited by eric_wearing at Oct 14, 2015,
#5
^ We talk about minor when we are talking about tonal (not modal) music. Aeolian mode pretty much become obsolete when keys were "invented". We talk about major and minor keys, not ionian and aeolian modes when we talk about contemporary music.


When you are talking about modal music, aeolian would be the correct term to use. But actual aeolilan or ionian (contemporary) music is rare. If we were talking about 1500s music, then aeolian and ionian would be the correct terms to use.


And yeah, the key is defined by the tonic. You are in A if A is your tonic. You are in C if C is your tonic. That's how key is defined.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 14, 2015,
#6
Quote by eric_wearing

I'm sorry, I just assumed all these years that the Aeolian mode and minor key are one in the same. Not to quickly turn this into a mode thread but what's the difference?


You can check the mode thread stickied on the MT front page.

Quick answer would be that a key utilizes functional harmony, it has a collection of notes that form chords that form progessions etc. and the song is usually "moving" to a certain direction.

A mode on the other hand avoids functional harmony and typical chord progressions, instead using a framework usually consisting of two or three chords. Since modes don't use functional harmony, the song doesn't have a clear direction, allowing the player to express greater freedom in melodies and improvisation. This is a much simplified answer, so I recommend you check out the thread. And I'm talking about contemporary music here, not classical.
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#7
Got it, thanks. One more quick mode question.

Why is the Aeolian mode the minor key? It seems the Phrygian is the most minor of all modes being that it is all minor/perfect intervals as opposed to Aeolian's mix of major, minor, and perfect intervals?
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

Quote by MaggaraMarine
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#8
Quote by eric_wearing
Got it, thanks. One more quick mode question.

Why is the Aeolian mode the minor key? It seems the Phrygian is the most minor of all modes being that it is all minor/perfect intervals as opposed to Aeolian's mix of major, minor, and perfect intervals?


Aeolian mode isn't the minor key. It shares the same notes, that is all. Intervals in the scale don't really matter, except the third. Major third=major key, minor third=minor key. At least most of the time.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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#9
Quote by eric_wearing
EDIT: Ohhh the naming of the scale/key requires that the tonic share the name. Thanks, this has been on my mind since learning theory. [Edit over]

I'm sorry, I just assumed all these years that the Aeolian mode and minor key are one in the same. Not to quickly turn this into a mode thread but what's the difference?
"Aeolian" is simply a fancy (and inappropriately archaic) name for what might better called the "natural minor" scale.
That scale is the basis of the "minor key", but the minor key also typically includes occasional raising of the 6th and 7th degrees. I.e. "harmonic" or "melodic" minor alterations.

It's quite common in modern music to use modal terms somewhat loosely - I personally have no problem with that, but I do agree with the others that it's important to distinguish modes from keys.
We can (IMO) usefully describe plenty of contemporary music as "modal" - even though it bears no resemblance to medieval modal practices. It's different enough from key-based (functional) harmony for such a term to be handy.
For some of it "aeolian" would be a quite acceptable term (again IMO): if it used only the natural minor scale and no raised 6th or 7th. There's no suggestion there that it has anything to do with how aeolian mode worked in the middle ages.
Even so, the term "minor key" might still be better, depending on other aspects of the music.

One important distinction is that in modern modal harmony, roman numeral designations make little if any sense. Numbering scale degrees serves no useful purpose. There may not even be any chords to speak of, and any chords there are might be ambiguous quartal stacks.

But if you're using conventional triadic chords (major, minor, dom7s, etc) in "progressions" around a "tonic" - with clear functional identities for each chord - then it would be better to use the term "minor key", even if only natural minor harmonisations are used. (Shall I say IMO again? )

In actual music, there could still be grey areas between (or combining) these two concepts, but it's still worth being aware of the distinction - and asking yourself "is it useful to number these chords?"
#10
Quote by eric_wearing
Got it, thanks. One more quick mode question.

Why is the Aeolian mode the minor key? It seems the Phrygian is the most minor of all modes being that it is all minor/perfect intervals as opposed to Aeolian's mix of major, minor, and perfect intervals?

It's not about that. It's about how people started using the notes. Sound first, theory second. I doubt people were thinking about the intervals being major or minor when they started using the minor key. Why minor key became the minor key was because of how composers used the notes.

Why the aeolian scale became the basic scale for the minor key? I don't know, you need to ask somebody else.

Or just read this:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1660589
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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Bach Stradivarius 37G
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#11
got it, thanks
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

Quote by MaggaraMarine
My motto: Play what the song needs you to play!
#12
Quote by eric_wearing
Got it, thanks. One more quick mode question.

Why is the Aeolian mode the minor key? It seems the Phrygian is the most minor of all modes being that it is all minor/perfect intervals as opposed to Aeolian's mix of major, minor, and perfect intervals?
Simply put, the significant interval - in the scale as in the chord - is the 3rd. That's the essential character difference between major and minor.

So ionian, lydian and mixolydian are all "major modes". Dorian, aeolian and phrygian are all "minor modes".

Naturally, history comes into play in the evolution from the modal system to the key system - it's as if Lydian and Mixolydian gravitated to Ionian, while Dorian and Phrygian gravitated to Aeolian. (Ionian and Aeolian were very late additions to the medieval modal system.)
(Note emphasis on "as if" )
#13
Naturally, history comes into play in the evolution from the modal system to the key system - it's as if Lydian and Mixolydian gravitated to Ionian, while Dorian and Phrygian gravitated to Aeolian. (Ionian and Aeolian were very late additions to the medieval modal system.)
(Note emphasis on "as if" )


I guess there's a reason why this happened. The augmented 4th in lydian was many times flattened to avoid a tritone, and the minor 7th in mixolydian was raised in cadences. That pretty much resulted in major.

Similarly, the major 6th in dorian was many times flattened for the same reason - to avoid a tritone (in the modal counterpoint course, B flat was the only accidental we were allowed to use outside of cadences - so to avoid a tritone, the only thing you could do was use a B flat instead of a B natural or change your melody). And in cadences the 7th scale degree was raised. And this is very similar to melodic minor.

What does phrygian have to do with minor? Well, I'm really not sure. Well, the minor 2nd is at least used in the Neapolitan 6th chord that is quite common.
Quote by AlanHB
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#14
Just something:

for minor I'd probably just write

i ii° III iv V/v VI VII

because it's implied that they're flat in minor key, III, VI, and VII.
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#15
You forgot to put the capital and small letters for minor and major chords.

The reason they do that, is because they want to keep the function consistent with number value. The thing is, it doesn't always work through all the modes I find (except for the tonic, obviously), but it does work for minor vs major pretty well. I think if I played piano exclusively, I might do it the conventional way, but I actually much prefer keeping the number values constant, and just recognize that function changes. For instance, the way I look at it vi-vii^o-I-ii-iii-IV-V is minor, and it is common to have a III-vi, for a cadence. Conventional theory would call that a V-i, which would work consistently in number value with a V-I in a major key.

It has its advantages, but I prefer it my way. For me all the modes/keys are like that. Natural minor or Aeolian is the vi mode. Dorian is the ii mode, etcetera, it's just easier to remember that way, than to remember the greek names. But it is not conventional to do that. Some people really get offended at the idea also. But whatever, what matters to me is playing guitar, so I do what works best for me to do that.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Oct 14, 2015,
#16
Quote by fingrpikingood
You forgot to put the capital and small letters for minor and major chords.

The reason they do that, is because they want to keep the function consistent with number value. The thing is, it doesn't always work through all the modes I find (except for the tonic, obviously), but it does work for minor vs major pretty well. I think if I played piano exclusively, I might do it the conventional way, but I actually much prefer keeping the number values constant, and just recognize that function changes. For instance, the way I look at it vi-vii^o-I-ii-iii-IV-V is minor, and it is common to have a III-vi, for a cadence. Conventional theory would call that a V-i, which would work consistently in number value with a V-I in a major key.

It has its advantages, but I prefer it my way. For me all the modes/keys are like that. Natural minor or Aeolian is the vi mode. Dorian is the ii mode, etcetera, it's just easier to remember that way, than to remember the greek names. But it is not conventional to do that. Some people really get offended at the idea also. But whatever, what matters to me is playing guitar, so I do what works best for me to do that.
We're all free to adapt terminology the way it makes sense for each of us individually.
At least you recognize your way is not "conventional", which is important. So you would (I presume) not use your method if teaching students.

Your method is taking the major scale as the origin of everything, against which all scales are compared. That has a kind of logic, although (as I'm sure you know) it's historically inaccurate, but also (as you may not agree) misleadingly distorted due to its very narrow perspective.
As long as we all learn "do re mi" as the basis of all music, then your method springs naturally from that.
But IMO we need to unlearn that sooner or later, because once we see "major" as just one kind of scale - an artificial invention with a bizarre dominance in Europe over (only) the last few centuries - then our ears (and imagination) are opened up.
Things like the fondness for mixolydian in rock music are then not seen as some kind of deviation from the "rule", but as part of an ancient folk modal sensibility (handed down to rock from blues and celtic folk). Mixolydian mode is at least as "natural" as (maybe more so than) the major scale.

In reality, Aeolian is not "vi" of anything. If anything, historically, it's "v of Dorian", or slightly more accurately "Dorian with flattened 6th".
Even in modern major key music, calling the vi chord "aeolian" is mistaken and unhelpful. It's confusing two different musical systems. The vi chord is not "aeolian" - its simply "vi in major", or "vi in Ionian" if we want archaic modal terms.

IOW, while it can be useful to begin with to derive aeolian mode by "starting from the vi of major", it's important to understand that it's a modality in its own right. It's not somehow contained within the major key.
Just as we don't say the minor key is "within" the major key. The minor key is a tonality in its own right, and we ought to call the tonic chord - the chord the music resolves to as home - "I".

Again, whatever works for you is OK for you. It's all the same sounds, and the words are only labels for a shared language. That's where convention matters: when talking with other musicians. In one's own head, any kind of label is acceptable.
#17
^ Exactly. As long as you understand what makes major major and minor minor, it doesn't matter what kind of system you use. But if you taught everybody that minor is just major starting from the 6th note, that can be very misleading. And I was kind of taught that way. We used solfege. Major scale was do re mi, etc, but minor scale was la ti do re mi, etc. And that didn't really work for me. What "opened my eyes" was figuring out that minor was its own thing and had its own tonic. I kind of knew that before, but I didn't understand it properly. And I think that was because we treated minor as starting from "la".

I understood the sound a lot better when I started thinking minor also starting from "do" - I compared it to the parallel major, not the relative major. That's how I understood the differences between major and minor. That's also what made me understand the modes. Before that I didn't really understand what makes mixolydian different from major. I kind of understood it but not properly.
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Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#18
I'll sip my fixed do tea then! ;D

Not everyone needs to use capital and lowercase conventions; le Jetpacks uses capital Roman numerals with "m" to signify minor. Again, whatever works and can be explained simply and accurately.
#19
Quote by jongtr
We're all free to adapt terminology the way it makes sense for each of us individually.
At least you recognize your way is not "conventional", which is important. So you would (I presume) not use your method if teaching students.

Your method is taking the major scale as the origin of everything, against which all scales are compared. That has a kind of logic, although (as I'm sure you know) it's historically inaccurate, but also (as you may not agree) misleadingly distorted due to its very narrow perspective.
As long as we all learn "do re mi" as the basis of all music, then your method springs naturally from that.
But IMO we need to unlearn that sooner or later, because once we see "major" as just one kind of scale - an artificial invention with a bizarre dominance in Europe over (only) the last few centuries - then our ears (and imagination) are opened up.
Things like the fondness for mixolydian in rock music are then not seen as some kind of deviation from the "rule", but as part of an ancient folk modal sensibility (handed down to rock from blues and celtic folk). Mixolydian mode is at least as "natural" as (maybe more so than) the major scale.

In reality, Aeolian is not "vi" of anything. If anything, historically, it's "v of Dorian", or slightly more accurately "Dorian with flattened 6th".
Even in modern major key music, calling the vi chord "aeolian" is mistaken and unhelpful. It's confusing two different musical systems. The vi chord is not "aeolian" - its simply "vi in major", or "vi in Ionian" if we want archaic modal terms.

IOW, while it can be useful to begin with to derive aeolian mode by "starting from the vi of major", it's important to understand that it's a modality in its own right. It's not somehow contained within the major key.
Just as we don't say the minor key is "within" the major key. The minor key is a tonality in its own right, and we ought to call the tonic chord - the chord the music resolves to as home - "I".

Again, whatever works for you is OK for you. It's all the same sounds, and the words are only labels for a shared language. That's where convention matters: when talking with other musicians. In one's own head, any kind of label is acceptable.


I'm not sure you understand. It's unconventional, but it is not in any way limiting or narrowing. I don't think everything is in a major key.

I just recognize that in natural minor, the tonic is vi, and the dominant is III. I find it much easier that way. If I was teaching it to someone, I'd show them both ways, and I'd be honest with them about which is which. The way I do it is really a lot easier, and you lose nothing, except for consistency with most people. I still have all the modes at my fingertips. All that is different, is that I don't rearrange the number values to match function. That's it. The sound of every mode remains. I can use any mode the same way anyone else can. It's just in Major, I call the I I, and in natural minor, I call the tonic vi. It's just a name. I'm not still in major, it is minor, but I kept the number values the same. There is not really a way to speak about positions in the pattern with conventional theory, which to me, is a serious shortcoming. It has many other advantages also. It doesn't matter to me about tradition or historically, but right now, the way everything works together, I find it a far superior system. It might be a little confusing at first, in the way maggamarine was talking about, but it's just roman numerals a person learning would quickly be able to come across parallel scales and compare them and notice the differences.

But whatever, I'm in no hurry to convince anyone else to do things that way. That's just what works for me. I find it is a more powerful way to think of music theory, so that's what I do. It becomes a bit annoying when someone writes roman numerals in a minor key, but all I have to do is +2, and I'm good.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Oct 15, 2015,
#20
^ I don't think jongtr thought that you would think major and minor are the same thing.

Quote by NeoMvsEu
I'll sip my fixed do tea then! ;D

Not everyone needs to use capital and lowercase conventions; le Jetpacks uses capital Roman numerals with "m" to signify minor. Again, whatever works and can be explained simply and accurately.

Yeah, actually in Finland chord functions are always in caps and nothing really indicates the chord quality in the marking. You just need to know that for example in a major key the III chord is assumed to be minor. If the III chord is a major chord in a major key, it's a secondary dominant, so we just mark it as V/vi. Well, it could also be marked as III(#3), but that wouldn't really tell about its function.

There are many different ways. I think people just need to be consistent with what they use.


When I'm posting here, I usually use the major = caps, minor = lower case way because people are familiar with it. Jet's way also works well. I don't use the Finnish way because nobody here uses it, and it could cause confusions.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#21
Quote by MaggaraMarine
^ I don't think jongtr thought that you would think major and minor are the same thing.



Maybe not, idk, people have been confused by that in the past. I guess it's this part of his reply that made me uncertain.

But IMO we need to unlearn that sooner or later, because once we see "major" as just one kind of scale - an artificial invention with a bizarre dominance in Europe over (only) the last few centuries - then our ears (and imagination) are opened up.
Things like the fondness for mixolydian in rock music are then not seen as some kind of deviation from the "rule", but as part of an ancient folk modal sensibility (handed down to rock from blues and celtic folk). Mixolydian mode is at least as "natural" as (maybe more so than) the major scale.


Whereas, I don't look at it that way at all. I am not placing more importance or value on the major scale, really. It is just the most sensible source to name all the degrees with, if I am to keep those names consistent.

So, maybe you're right, idk, but the naming convention I use does not in any way change how someone could perceive the sounds of modes, or how easily they could move in and out of them. Nothing changes, except the pattern which is all the modes now has names which are dependent on the pattern itself, independently of any mode or established tonal center, which happen to be the same names as conventional Ionian, and there are no number values to describe function, just function to describe function, which will have different number values depending on what mode you're in. I just wanted to make that clear, because I've run into people that couldn't get away from thinking I am somehow stuck in some major-centric bubble.

That said, I do prefer to write in major and minor, over the other modes, but that's just a preference thing, not a theory thing. I actually never worry about what mode I'm in when I write. I just write, and it ends up being in some mode, which usually ends up being Ionian or Aeolian.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Oct 15, 2015,
#22
Quote by MaggaraMarine

Yeah, actually in Finland chord functions are always in caps and nothing really indicates the chord quality in the marking. You just need to know that for example in a major key the III chord is assumed to be minor. If the III chord is a major chord in a major key, it's a secondary dominant, so we just mark it as V/vi. Well, it could also be marked as III(#3), but that wouldn't really tell about its function.

And then there are common tone modulations
https://youtu.be/mC2vYfVUNTI

Eb-major.
Modulates to bIII ("the music, the music of stillness, holy and low") and III (final part).
Pivot chords and secondary dominants are far more common, though, and all chords should be analyzed by their function, so long as there is function in said music.
There are many different ways. I think people just need to be consistent with what they use.

When I'm posting here, I usually use the major = caps, minor = lower case way because people are familiar with it. Jet's way also works well. I don't use the Finnish way because nobody here uses it, and it could cause confusions.


---

In other news, a picture held us captive.
#23
Quote by fingrpikingood
I'm not sure you understand. It's unconventional, but it is not in any way limiting or narrowing. I don't think everything is in a major key.
I didn't intend to suggest that.
Quote by fingrpikingood

I just recognize that in natural minor, the tonic is vi, and the dominant is III. I find it much easier that way.
OK.

In fact, it strikes me that your way has a lot in common with the European "fixed do" system. That's where they always call C "do", whatever the actual keynote is.
So the key of D major is called "re major" (eg "re majeur" in French).
Those of us used to movable do (where "do" is always the tonic) find that bizarre - if "C" is always "do", why have both names? - but obviously it works for them.

It's not the same as your system, obviously (because you'd call D major D major! ), but the idea of the relative minor key sharing the same chord numbers as the major even though the functions are different.
Last edited by jongtr at Oct 15, 2015,
#24
Quote by jongtr
I didn't intend to suggest that.
OK.

In fact, it strikes me that your way has a lot in common with the European "fixed do" system. That's where they always call C "do", whatever the actual keynote is.
So the key of D major is called "re major" (eg "re majeur" in French).
Those of us used to movable do (where "do" is always the tonic) find that bizarre - if "C" is always "do", why have both names? - but obviously it works for them.

It's not the same as your system, obviously (because you'd call D major D major! ), but the idea of the relative minor key sharing the same chord numbers as the major even though the functions are different.


Oh ok sorry, I misunderstood then.

Idk if I'd make that comparison exactly. In french, C is 'do'. It's a straight conversion. So it is no more like that, than the lettering system is, really.

Maybe in english areas they use the do re mi kind of thing for solfege as meaning degrees of the major scale, but historically, and still in the french curriculum, it's just a different way of naming the notes. Treble clef is called clef de sol, and bass clef is called clef de fa. It makes sense it looks like an S for treble, but idk, the bass doesn't look much like an f.

My system is also really attached to the chords, not just the notes. For me there is "the pattern" and the pattern is "harmonized" in a way, separated into chords, and named, exactly like the Ionian mode, but it is just the pattern that is split and named that way. I don't think I've ever seen any academic equivalent. I like it. It's a bit different in certain ways, but it works well for me and how my mind works. So far, anyway. If I discover something about that way of looking at it that I feel is holding me back in some way, I will change it.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Oct 15, 2015,
#25
The purpose of solmization was to aid singing, and it developed as a pedagogical guide. Fixed do and its related syllables developed much later; however, the main thing is that note names A-G and solfège/solfeggio should not be treated as redundant, but rather independent systems.

That the Romance languages' (and Chinese, among others) systems borrowed them as the standard note-naming convention may be confusing, but not at all surprising given over 600 years of history.
Last edited by NeoMvsEu at Oct 15, 2015,
#26
I think most music students learn with Moveable Do. Fixed Do is a little cumbersome if you're doing something by ear and don't know the key. And I think Moveable Do is also better because it illuminates the relationship to the tonic.
#27
Agreed. Moveable Do is far superior IMO. Gives a whole other insight into note behavior, not just names, especially with respect to ear training.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#28
I've never had the problem of not knowing where I am so I'll join the vocal minority
#29
Quote by cdgraves
I think most music students learn with Moveable Do. Fixed Do is a little cumbersome if you're doing something by ear and don't know the key. And I think Moveable Do is also better because it illuminates the relationship to the tonic.


In the english speaking world, you're probably right, as solfege is used as a supplemental learning tool. Around here, if you go to a french school, they won't teach you C,D, E, etcetera, at all. It is Do re mi fa sol..., period. The idea of a moveable do, is like the idea of a moveable C for people taught this way.

In english speaking schools it is the lettering system that is taught for note names, which allows for solfege to be moveable.