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Author Topic: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)  (Read 2358 times)

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Gena Crisman

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Re: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)
« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2019, 12:54:22 PM »

Jack put in the header:
K: D Phrygian ^F
 but it's definitely not Phrygian mode.
It's not G harmonic minor either, even though all the notes of the scale match

So, I was going to get there some day, but now seems like a good time! You may have observed that E harmonic minor was not a mode of either the G major or D major scale, or, in fact any major scale. Its order of tones and semitones is not found there, and is in fact a fresh, new 7 note scale, independent of the major scale...

And, of course, that means we now have a heap of new modes! The modes of the harmonic minor scale. The scale being described here is called Phrygian Dominant. It's actual a very popular (and sometimes considered overused in some genres) scale. On a two row DG, if you have a push D#, you can also play B phrygian dominant fairly comfortably, but you do have scale limits if you only have the one Accidental. Harmonic minor can be found by taking a natural minor scale, and sharping the 7th, or by taking a major scale, and flattening the 3rd and the 6th - we don't have either of these natively on our diatonic major scale instruments, but we do have accidentals, so, any major or minor scale we're used to playing, we can add either 1 or 2 accidentals to it to generate the scale.

The options for harmonic minor scales that come to mind for DG are approximately, since our goal is using as few accidentals as possible (the accidentals are bolded):

The semitone pattern is:
0  +2 +1 +2 +2 +1 +3 +1
E harmonic minor:
E  F# G  A  B  C  D# E
A harmonic minor:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G# A
B harmonic minor:
B  C# D  E  F# G  A# B
G harmonic minor:
G  A  Bb C  D  Eb F# G
D harmonic minor:
D  E  F  G  A  Bb C# D

Of these, the standard accidentals can be in the wrong places, eg in A and D harmonic minor due to the F being high, and the G# and Bb being low.

The scale  has a very distinct interval, the 3 semitones step up between eg C and D#, which differentiates it from the major scale. Phrygian dominant is a mode built from the 5th degree of the harmonic minor scale, and shifts that signature step right in front of the tonic. D phrygian dominant would be built from G harmonic minor, as D is the 5th note of that scale:

Regular D Phrygian (a mode of Bb major)
D  Eb F  G  A  Bb C  D
G harmonic minor:
G  A  Bb C  D  Eb F# G
D phrygian dominant:
D  Eb F# G  A  Bb C  D
hence, D phrygian ^F

Accompanying tunes in these scales is a little messy for us because of that +3 interval. The diatonic chords for Harmonic Minor are:
i    iio  III+ iv   V    VI   viio
which makes the chords of phrygian dominant:
I    II   iiio iv   vo   VI+  vii 
We now have two diminished chords (the o) chord, and one augmented chord (the +). An augmented chord is effectively where the relative 5th note is sharpened by a semitone. Like with a diminished chord, this means that the chord doesn't the root's relative 5th note, meaning it's much less stable and harder to work with, but, in the augmented case, at least the interval isn't tritone. At the very least, this means on our fixed chord instrument, we do have 3 chords out of the scale we likely can't play complete chords of - after all, very few people have a 5ths stop! But, you can quite happily use what is there. We can use the same pattern we used for phrygian; vii, I and ii, with I making us stand out as different. We can also look at iv. The iv -> I change is very nice (it's also called the 'minor plagal cadence'). However, you can also just pedal on a low drone if the tonic note, which could make eg D phrygian dominant attractive to a DG box player, where even with the 2 accidentals in positions that may make things tougher, we have the D bass in both directions.

Basically, we can totally do it! I learnt a lot, theory and practically, from this ideas in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCZezZf9bi0 (although the chap plays guitar).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 02:17:14 PM by Gena Crisman »
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Anahata

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Re: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)
« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2019, 01:46:11 PM »

By golly, she's right!
This page also explains why it's called that. (A mode can be called 'dominant' if it contains both a major 3rd and a minor 7th.)

Incidentally, F♯ Phrygian dominant also works on a D/G with accidentals (just needs the B♭/A♯), but not as well as there's no F♯ bass.
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Eshed

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Re: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)
« Reply #42 on: June 12, 2019, 02:03:44 PM »

Actually this thread drove me to play with the phrygian dominant for the past few weeks as it's a core mode of Klezmer music (Can I get more cliche than that?).
The genre is not really my cup of tea, but it's fun to challenge your brain and fingers.
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I'm playing all the wrong notes but not necessarily in the wrong order.

Gena Crisman

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Re: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)
« Reply #43 on: June 12, 2019, 02:15:54 PM »

Actually this thread drove me to play with the phrygian dominant for the past few weeks as it's a core mode of Klezmer music (Can I get more cliche than that?).
The genre is not really my cup of tea, but it's fun to challenge your brain and fingers.

That's lovely to hear! I'd be interested to know how you've been getting on with that on your instruments, and how you've been placing the scale on your boxes.
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Eshed

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Re: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)
« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2019, 02:29:29 PM »

That's lovely to hear! I'd be interested to know how you've been getting on with that on your instruments, and how you've been placing the scale on your boxes.
I've flipped two plates on my C/F club box such that both C# notes are now on the push.
It was originally done to assist in playing Purcell tunes, but an improved A phrygian dominant is a very nice byproduct.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 02:38:40 PM by Eshed »
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I'm playing all the wrong notes but not necessarily in the wrong order.

Gena Crisman

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Re: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)
« Reply #45 on: June 12, 2019, 03:36:51 PM »

That's lovely to hear! I'd be interested to know how you've been getting on with that on your instruments, and how you've been placing the scale on your boxes.
I've flipped two plates on my C/F club box such that both C# notes are now on the push.
It was originally done to assist in playing Purcell tunes, but an improved A phrygian dominant is a very nice byproduct.

Neat! Welcome to the club, of having reversed those plates I mean. The only downside I've found for plate reversal on my DG is playing a chord and its relative flat 5/tritone as a passing note at the same time, so, for me, Bb over an E chord or Eb over an A chord, which are both things that do come up from time to time.

If you're interested in another different sound, I'd also suggest you should check out mixolydian flat 6. It can be played roughly the same as your CF's A phrygian dominant, but, you sharp your 2nd back up, so, you defer to the outside row a little more (so instead of A Bb C#, the run becomes A B C#). This gives you a half major, half minor sort of scale that at the end of the day is closer to mixoldyian than taking multiple steps from anywhere else, hence the name, but, it plays very similar to what you've been figuring out. This removes some of the phrygian twang, but keeps a lot of the majesty of phrygian dominant. So, if you feel like it, maybe try; A B C# D E F G A, played over A major, D minor and G major (or, for us DG folks, B C# D# E F# G A B played over B major and E minor, and A major). I've played with this scale a bit, resulting in this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmSNPlghyM0 but don't think it's a great demonstration - I'd like to take another look at it, some day...
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 03:50:29 PM by Gena Crisman »
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Chris Ryall

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Re: The Melodeon Mode Show (writing/sharing modal tunes)
« Reply #46 on: June 12, 2019, 09:13:37 PM »

the difference is that phygian major is a harmonic minor mode, myxo b6 a mode of melodic minor, and yes, lovely.

the “twang” isn’t really phrygian. it stems from the abrupt 1½ tone interval between Bb and C# (hence having # and b in one scale). Only harmonic scales have this interval (there are 3 others)
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