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Discussions => Teaching and Learning => Topic started by: tiny on February 25, 2018, 09:20:28 AM

Title: Modes/Keys
Post by: tiny on February 25, 2018, 09:20:28 AM
I know you can use the term "a lower key" but can you do the same for modes, ie: " a lower mode"

Simple layman terms would be great if possible  (:)

Thanks Lizzy
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Rob2Hook on February 25, 2018, 10:48:18 AM
I know people do say that (lower key), but if you're in pedantic mood (not mode) it's plain wrong.  Higher or lower key?  It depends where you're coming from... It can be played at a lower or higher pitch whatever key you choose.  Must admit, I've never felt the need to get my head around modes, but every mode exists for every keynote, so I don't think the expression "lower mode" can have any meaning.

Rob.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Chris Rayner on February 25, 2018, 10:56:52 AM
Well, the same tune played in a different key in the same range of pitches will be lower or higher.  So on a bog-standard D/G melodeon tunes played on the D row will be a fourth lower than when played on the G row.  But if you play the same tune on the G row of a G/C melodeon it will be an octave lower.

Modes are different, in that they use different pitches in the same key, so there are different pitches in the same range of 12 tones.  Let’s not get into tempering and enharmonics, eh.😉
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 25, 2018, 11:08:49 AM
I know you can use the term "a lower key" but can you do the same for modes, ie: " a lower mode"

Simple layman terms would be great if possible  (:)

Thanks Lizzy

To say lower (or higher) mode is pretty meaningless. If you're describing a tune according to mode, you're much better off learning how they work and saying what the root and mode are.   
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Theo on February 25, 2018, 11:25:55 AM
I know you can use the term "a lower key" but can you do the same for modes, ie: " a lower mode"

Simple layman terms would be great if possible  (:)

Thanks Lizzy

The term "a lower key" also has only limited usefulness.   For example you might say a CF box is in the keys of C and F and is a tone lower than DG box which is quite helpful.  But as Chris Rayner points out there are also CG boxes where the G row is an octave lower than the G row on a DG box.

In the context of playing the concept of lower or higher key is even less useful because the concept of a key does not say anything about pitch because  any tune can be played in any of several different octaves.  The sort of things can be said about modes.

Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Roger Hare on February 25, 2018, 11:58:20 AM
To say lower (or higher) mode is pretty meaningless. If you're describing a tune according to mode, you're much
better off learning how they work and saying what the root and mode are.   

This comment/question is very mode-specific, but to my way of thinking, it is related to the more generally phrased OP.

Using only the natural notes (ie: the 'white' notes on a piano), to keep it simple, I presume that you mean something like:

If you take the 'pitch set':

C D E F G A B c (in ABC terms)

the root is C, and the intervals between the notes (TTSTTTS)(*) mean that the mode is Ionian, so we have C Ionian
(a.k.a. C Major).

If you take the 'pitch set':

D E F G A B c d

the root is D, and the intervals between the notes (TSTTTST) mean that the mode is Dorian, so we have D Dorian.

And so on for EPhr, FLyd, GMix, AAeo (a.k.a. A Minor), BLoc.

In a score, all might look at first glance as if they were in C Major.

Is that right(-ish)? I am constantly trying to get my head round the relationship between modes and conventional 'keys',
and am not doing very well...

I'm increasingly thinking in terms of 'pitch sets' (or 'range of pitches' as used in an earlier post) rather than 'keys'.  This
may be a big mistake?

Thank you.

Roger

(*)T=tone
    S=semi-tone

Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 25, 2018, 12:59:13 PM
When people use the phrase lower (or higher) key, they are describing in terms of an ascending scale, starting from the C below the current key (root) note and ending on the B above the current root note. I'll go away and have a think about how to express the other half of what I'm trying to say.

I have a related question, though: Why start on C and not A? Is it to do with the pitch of the human voice, I wonder.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Theo on February 25, 2018, 01:04:27 PM
Greg,  that might be true for people with a formal musical training,  but I’m not sure it’s true for many folkies. For example I think of Bb being a lower key/pitch than C, because that is the way melodeon pitches are arranged.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 25, 2018, 01:20:50 PM
Greg,  that might be true for people with a formal musical training,  but I’m not sure it’s true for many folkies. For example I think of Bb being a lower key/pitch than C, because that is the way melodeon pitches are arranged.

Bang goes another theory. I know it's a term in common use and my experience is that most people seem to have a common understanding of what is meant. A common understanding implies a rule (even if unwritten), so, what is the rule?

It must be the interval separating the new key from the old, I suppose. G to D is lower. G to B is higher. G to C?

In answer to the OPs question, if you change keys you go to a higher or lower root note with the same intervals. If you change modes you change the intervals between notes but the root note stays the same.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Mike Hirst on February 25, 2018, 02:49:35 PM
When I lived in Leeds it was common regard that Loiners (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loiner) live in the North. Now that I live just outside Newcastle I travel South to visit friends in Yorkshire.

In music, as with the universe, all things are relative. remember ...
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Sebastian on February 25, 2018, 03:24:13 PM
I have a related question, though: Why start on C and not A? Is it to do with the pitch of the human voice, I wonder.
Not really. It goes back to the ancient greek tone system. The 'complete system' ('sytema teleion') had only two octaves. When the Romans adapted it (or, more specific, when Boethius translated antique music theory in late antiquity to the emerging middle ages), they started by counting from the deepest note onwards: A B C D ...

That does not mean, that A is a 'root' note, it is only the lowest note in the system, like the A2 being the lowest note on a normal piano.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: tiny on February 25, 2018, 04:50:13 PM
I have a  basic knowledge of theory....the level of learning piano and the relative theory as a young person. I can relate to the piano keys and starting on middle C with the major scale etc .. but what  does its mean when you play in a band that says " that key is too high for our singer lets play in a lower key" In my mind it is taking the scale or notes down, say from middle c on the piano for example or wherever the note starts to however many notes lower  to suit the singer...I think I am  gathering from the very interesting and informed comments above (a bit beyond me but enjoyable to read) that its not really worth anything, yet somehow it means something... well to me anyway. I'm also thinking now that can't be said of a mode.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: GPS on February 25, 2018, 05:10:49 PM
what  does its mean when you play in a band that says " that key is too high for our singer lets play in a lower key" .

What they actually mean is "let's play it at a lower pitch"; the "key" - ie the note upon which the standard pitch octave of your band's/singer's favoured vocal range is based - is irrelevant in absolute terms.  In this situation, you'll quickly discover the best range for your singer(s) and find the most conveniently pitched key(s) to accommodate that vocal range. "Keynote" simply denotes the "home" note of an octave.

Graham
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 25, 2018, 05:11:39 PM
what  does its mean when you play in a band that says " that key is too high for our singer lets play in a lower key" In my mind it is taking the scale or notes down, say from middle c on the piano for example or wherever the note starts to however many notes lower  to suit the singer...
Yes that's exactly what it means.
If the key of a song is too high to be comfortable for a singer, then it can usually be transposed down into a lower key. You just count down the notes of the scale until you get to a new starting note which is OK for the singer.

So if - as is often the case - a song e.g. in the key of G is too high for a singer, then taking it down a tone into the key of F, or even down a fourth into the key of D is often much better for the singer.

Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: GPS on February 25, 2018, 05:15:49 PM
Steve's reply is more pragmatic than mine!  I think (hope!) we're both saying the same thing in slightly different terms!

Graham
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Roger Hare on February 25, 2018, 05:33:21 PM
...if you change keys you go to a higher or lower root note with the same intervals. If you
change modes you change the intervals between notes but the root note stays the same.

I wish I'd said that! Summed up in two short sentences - brilliant - thank you!

Roger.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: boxcall on February 25, 2018, 07:33:35 PM
what  does its mean when you play in a band that says " that key is too high for our singer lets play in a lower key" In my mind it is taking the scale or notes down, say from middle c on the piano for example or wherever the note starts to however many notes lower  to suit the singer...


So if - as is often the case - a song e.g. in the key of G is too high for a singer, then taking it down a tone into the key of F, or even down a fourth into the key of D is often much better for the singer.

I understand this and wonder if it's not the key only, so I can sometimes sing most of a song in say G but only when I get to a particular note or notes father up the scale that it's a problem.
So if a tune never goes to those notes or starts lower down on the scale I can sing along in G. I would naturally be closer to D I think for singing.
I see that these difficult notes are part of that "key" but I'm trying to say if the song is played on the lower octave it might be doable, so is that a "lower key" without being a different key?
As you can see I have no background in music theory (:)
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Winston Smith on February 25, 2018, 07:53:00 PM
"I have no background in music theory"

Neither have I. But I have been singing for a long time, and if you cannot reach the higher notes when singing, then you're in the wrong key! It's no use at all changing the octave, unless you can sing the whole lot in the lower octave, it would just sound silly. You would have to change the key.
When I was young, I could play the guitar or banjo and sing as well, but with the more complicated squeezeboxes (I used to play an English concertina) I just cannot do it, so my co-conspirators and I sing unaccompanied harmonies, and it's sometimes a b****r getting the right key to suit all three of us!
I cannot see how a different "mode" would help, but as you also said boxcall, I have no background in musical theory!
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: tiny on February 28, 2018, 01:12:43 PM
Quote
if you change keys you go to a higher or lower root note with the same intervals. If you change modes you change the intervals between notes but the root note stays the same.

Having been laid up the last day or so I have been reading about keys, and pitch, and modes. I even got out English Folk Song, Some Conclusions, by C J Sharp and read the mode section, I struggled with it. Went back to this post and read through again and the above quote helps me a lot, it is a good starting point I think.

I really love playing the scales/notes of the modes on piano they sound so good, but I still don't really get it. More study I think.
Lizzy
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Ebor_fiddler on February 28, 2018, 07:35:44 PM
i gave up on trying to understand modes in the fifth form, around 1962. It's all Greek to me!  :'(
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Mike Hirst on February 28, 2018, 08:57:54 PM
i gave up on trying to understand modes in the fifth form, around 1962. It's all Greek to me!  :'(

Stay safe in cyberspace ... beware of geeks bearing gifs.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Jesse Smith on February 28, 2018, 09:24:41 PM
For those interested in learning more about music theory, I really liked a book called "Edly's Music Theory for Practical People". As the title implies, it's written for musicians in an accessible and not academic way. It's got lots of fun cartoons and doodles that help explain the theory.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: tiny on February 28, 2018, 11:43:37 PM
Quote
in an accessible and not academic way.

I like that approach in all walks of life.

Would that be similar to' Music for Dummies' I wonder.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Jesse Smith on February 28, 2018, 11:56:29 PM
Quote
in an accessible and not academic way.

I like that approach in all walks of life.

Would that be similar to' Music for Dummies' I wonder.
I haven't read any specific "For Dummies" books about music, but Edly's approach is definitely geared towards regular musicians (maybe even those who don't read music) who want to learn more about the theory underlying the stuff they play. There are some sample pages online at edly.com.

I read it about ten years ago when I was pretty intensely learning to play blues on electric guitar and starting to get into some jazzier chords and progressions.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: tiny on March 01, 2018, 12:01:31 AM
Thanks I'll look it up .
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: jack on March 01, 2018, 10:19:55 AM
The modes of the major scale go from bright to dark, starting with Lydian

Then flatten the (raised) fourth (F# if you’re playing C Lydian) for Ionian mode
Flatten the seventh to get Mixolydian
Flatten the third to get Dorian
Then the sixth for Aeolian
Flatten the second to get Phrygian

You can experiment with these (on a piano) by playing a drone with your left hand – an open fifth, C and G and tinkling around.
 
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Andy in Vermont on March 06, 2018, 04:13:18 PM
That’s an interesting way to think about the modes—how they are all modifications of the different degrees of a scale.

I tend to think about them in a different way, which is perhaps easier to experience on a diatonic accordion, even on a one row. Take a one row in D. Play the notes of the D major scale and play the same notes but from E to E, and you get the Dorian mode; A to A is mixolydian; B to B is aeolian; etc.

Then it also becomes easier to see how the “gapped” scales work as well.

The modes of the major scale go from bright to dark, starting with Lydian

Then flatten the (raised) fourth (F# if you’re playing C Lydian) for Ionian mode
Flatten the seventh to get Mixolydian
Flatten the third to get Dorian
Then the sixth for Aeolian
Flatten the second to get Phrygian

You can experiment with these (on a piano) by playing a drone with your left hand – an open fifth, C and G and tinkling around.
Title: Re: Modes/Keys
Post by: Chris Ryall on March 10, 2018, 12:16:32 PM
see https://chrisryall.net/modes/index.htm

Say you are are G "major" and decide to improvise a turn of your tune in its relative minor, that's Em, and importantly Em with a natural C, keeping with your "G" set of notes.

I might start by moving from G chord: GBD, to Gmaj7: GBDF#, then take finger off G to get Bm. That is a modal (so weak) dominant into my targeted E scale. From there I could play into lower octave, or upper. So "up" v "down" has little meaning. The modes run in a circle.

Or more dramatic, just shift from G to Em abruptly. A lot of Irish tunes do this.

Or "emphatic" play the push B major chord, available on many DGaccs setups. This is to modulate into E :o specifically, forcefully, but … could be EMaj on a different instrument. I'd simply carry on in Em using all those G scale notes as before … having made my wake up call.

All of this apart from the B chord stays in the modes of G, the transition a matter of style. Practically … borrow any note you like or need from your D row (except C#)! "playing in chords" as you change mode is another good way to emphasis mode, be that upward or downward shift. As exemplified in 1st examplar