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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:00 pm 
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As an engineer, I'm always trying to figure out underlying structure of things, and asking "why". Music is so full or interesting and beautiful patterns.

I didn't really "get" modes until I realized that they follow a cycle of "fifths" within a particular key signature. So, in the key signature of G with one F#, you have the G-major, D-Mix (up 5 notes), A-Dorian and E-minor. E-minor is the relative minor of G-major, so I think of A-Dorian as the relative dorian of G, an D-Mix, the relative Mixolydian of G.

To my ears, Mixolydian feels "major-ish", and Dorian feels "minor-ish", so the cycle of modes fits how the music feels.

It's interesting how many almost E-minor tunes lack the conviction of going totally minor, and throw in an ambiguous C# note.

When I accompany on guitar, knowing the mode is helpful. The mode of E-minor has two sharps, but the mode of E-Dorian has only one. So in an E-dorian tune, I wouldn't normally want to use an A-minor or C-Major chord because the C-natural isn't part of the key signature. Or in G-major, I might swap in the relative E-minor for the G-major chord or the relative A-minor for the C-chord.


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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:30 pm 
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tstermitz wrote:
It's interesting how many almost E-minor tunes lack the conviction of going totally minor, and throw in an ambiguous C# note.

That C# note is just part of the mode of E Dorian.

tsermitz wrote:
When I accompany on guitar, knowing the mode is helpful. The mode of E-minor has two sharps, but the mode of E-Dorian has only one.

You have those key signatures the wrong way round - E minor (Aeolian, if you like, or so-called 'natural minor') has one sharp, whereas E Dorian has two sharps.

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 3:17 am 
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tstermitz wrote:
When I accompany on guitar, knowing the mode is helpful. The mode of E-minor has two sharps, but the mode of E-Dorian has only one. So in an E-dorian tune, I wouldn't normally want to use an A-minor or C-Major chord because the C-natural isn't part of the key signature. Or in G-major, I might swap in the relative E-minor for the G-major chord or the relative A-minor for the C-chord.


A lot of guitarists use so-called modal chords, i.e., no 3rd, to accompany music of this sort, especially when using DADGAD tuning.

(Warning: There are some lively discussions on the internet (thesession, e.g.) about the meaning of the term "modal chord", or whether it's a legitimate term at all.)

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:17 am 
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StevieJ wrote:

A little more inclusive but almost as simple: "anything with one or two sharps in the key signature".


Yes when I was doing lots of studio work on uilleann pipes I learned that I had to be clear about what the pipes did. Beforehand over the phone I would tell the composer "one or two sharps, G Major or D Major, range from the D above Middle C to the A an octave and a half above that."

But talking to composers is like talking to bricks. At one gig I showed up to find that he had written my music in flats. I said I couldn't play it. He said "over the phone you said G". The piece was in G minor. :really:

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 11:24 pm 
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I'm going to give this a try. Might be too much, but if you get something out of it, awesome. I think it helps that I play piano because I can see everything laid out on a keyboard. I'm not going to go into anything too complex because I still sometimes have trouble remembering these things, and I studied them. I've always wondered why whistles were made in so many keys, and I suspect it has much to do with the limited (2 octaves plus a bit more if get creative) range you get on each instrument.

If you simply look at written music, the number of flats or sharps will give you the key signature only, but unless you specify whether it's a major or minor scale, that could cause confusion. The link below to the circle of fifths that was mentioned above by tstermitz will at least give an idea of first what to look for in terms of key signatures with the major scales and the relative minor scales.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_key#/media/File:Circle_of_fifths_deluxe_4.svg

In the case of a D whistle, it's keyed in the D major scale (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D) with its relative minor scale B. Diatonic refers to the specific spread of 5 whole steps and 2 half steps (or semitone) in pitch across the octave. For D major, you have semitones between the 3rd (F#) and 4th (G), then between the 7th (C#) and the 8th (D). Then we get into modes. In the D mixolydian mode, you end up with a flatted 7th so that C# becomes C, and you end up with only the one sharped F. This is the same key signature for G major with relative minor E. Speaking of E minor, E Dorian is essentially the E minor scale with a sharped 6th (C to C#). Thus, you get the same key signature as the D major scale again. If you read through the link below, there are more details. In terms of modes, the major scale is the Ionian mode, and the relative (natural) minor is the Aeolian mode. Yes, I had to look these up again because I could not remember the names, only the theory behind them. As a side note, the natural minor is the true relative minor of a particular key signature. Harmonic and melodic minor scales involve changes to specific notes that would change the key signatures, even though the first note of the scale (tonic) remains the same. I mixed these up a lot when I was taking piano as a kid.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatonic_scale

Realistically, on a D whistle, you can easily play any of the key signatures / modes that use the two octaves of the notes D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D, and C with oxxooo or oxxxoo fingering. Other flats or sharps require half-holing or some creative fingering and checking with a tuner; I would recommend half-holing as I found that to be more accurate in terms of the pitch. But if you do anything other than the D major, or even the E minor or Dorian, but anything else will limit the the number of upper notes you can play in those scales/modes/whatever you want to call them.


Last edited by Mae on Tue Oct 04, 2016 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 11:48 pm 
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Mae wrote:
In the case of a D whistle, it's keyed in the D major scale (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D) with its relative minor scale A.

I think you must mean, "... D major scale with its relative minor scale B". But, funnily enough, the relative minor (B) doesn't feel especially comfortable on a D whistle to me - A Dorian is much more comfortable, and maybe that's why there seem to be more tunes in that mode/key (not that I've counted).

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 11:58 pm 
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Yep, you're correct. It's late, and I was somehow thinking in C major. Should have checked it on the circle of fifths I linked to. Will correct it now.

To be honest, I tend to either play D major or G major on my whistle. I don't know why, but it's pretty easy for me to switch from the C# to C without much thought. From a music standpoint, it's easier for me to remember and compose songs in A minor than it is in B minor, too. Some key signatures and scales are more user-friendly than others.


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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:46 am 
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Mae wrote:
As a side note, the natural minor is the true relative minor of a particular key signature.

No. The natural minor is the Aeolian mode of a particular key signature, which happens to share its tonic with the relative minor. The 'true' relative minor has the sharpened leading note because it's not otherwise a 'true' minor.

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Harmonic and melodic minor scales involve changes to specific notes that would change the key signatures, even though the first note of the scale (tonic) remains the same.

They wouldn't/couldn't change the key signatures because 1. there is no key signature including the sharpened leading note (you'd need, for instance, a solitary G# for A minor or F# and D# for E minor) and 2. your 'key signature' would need to change for ascending and descending melodic minors.

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:25 am 
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Thanks for the correction on those minor scales...it's been a while since I studied the theory behind these, and I'd always had some difficulties with all the different minor scales. Better to check music theory resources for the proper definitions.

I wanted to also point out a textbook that is still available (I've seen it used on Amazon.com). Check out Perspectives in Music Theory: An Historical-Analytical Approach by Paul Cooper. Yes, it's really old, but still quite useful. I still go back to it if I need to check things or review. If anyone has other, more recent textbook resources, would love to know about them.


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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:47 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Mae wrote:
As a side note, the natural minor is the true relative minor of a particular key signature.

No. The natural minor is the Aeolian mode of a particular key signature, which happens to share its tonic with the relative minor. The 'true' relative minor has the sharpened leading note because it's not otherwise a 'true' minor.

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Harmonic and melodic minor scales involve changes to specific notes that would change the key signatures, even though the first note of the scale (tonic) remains the same.

They wouldn't/couldn't change the key signatures because 1. there is no key signature including the sharpened leading note (you'd need, for instance, a solitary G# for A minor or F# and D# for E minor) and 2. your 'key signature' would need to change for ascending and descending melodic minors.

I think all of this is kind of subject to change, Peter, by which I mean, I think you're right, but not exclusively right.

To take the first bit - consider the wiki on the subject. Now, I know it's Wikipedia, and some may doubt it because of that, but I think it's a fair reflection of what is generally accepted in the world of music theory. And in that article, at least one meaning of "relative minor" would be restricted to the natural minor mode. But in describing music of the classical era, then yes, for the most part, it is usual to think of minor keys as having mostly sharpened leading tones.

The only thing I have to add relating to the second part of your post is that, yes, that seems right today, but it was not always the case; at one time (the Baroque era for instance, at times) there were indeed key signatures with an extra sharp or flat here and there - sometimes indicating one or other particular type of minor key. (There are some other oddities about Baroque key signatures, such as Bach's, and others', habit of writing G minor pieces in a key signature with only one flat, and then flattening just about every E in the piece.)

The trouble is, these things really do seem always to be changing in their meaning, depending on where you are and when you are living or what period you are writing about. I've got a bit laxer in my thinking on it these days compared with how I used to think, essentially because that way I can at least hope to understand different people when they are using the same language to mean very different things! :)

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:29 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
by which I mean, I think you're right, but not exclusively right.

Ha, I like that, Ben! :)

Quote:
And in that article, at least one meaning of "relative minor" would be restricted to the natural minor mode.

Having just taken a look at that, I'm not sure it's really meaning to restrict it. Perhaps more just a clumsy attempt to explain the relative minor/major relationship in the simplest possible terms.

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But in describing music of the classical era, then yes, for the most part, it is usual to think of minor keys as having mostly sharpened leading tones.

And of course the problem disappears altogether if you simply accept relative minor as any minor on the correct tonic. On which note it was Mae's 'true relative minor' that bothered me.

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The only thing I have to add relating to the second part of your post is that, yes, that seems right today, but it was not always the case; at one time (the Baroque era for instance, at times) there were indeed key signatures with an extra sharp or flat here and there - sometimes indicating one or other particular type of minor key.

And I nearly observed in my previous post that Bartok liked to make them up too! :wink:

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(There are some other oddities about Baroque key signatures, such as Bach's, and others', habit of writing G minor pieces in a key signature with only one flat, and then flattening just about every E in the piece.)

And I'm well aware of these as a former postgrad recorder student. But they're not (like the Bartok examples and others) actually outwith the range of standard key signatures... just not the ones we'd expect today for those keys.

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:21 pm 
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Which is all good stuff! As, of course, is only what I'd expect. :)

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:24 pm 
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By the way, and totally off the subject, I really like that usage of "outwith". It's good ol' standard English usage, but for some reason it seems to have virtually disappeared from everywhere except Scotland.

Anyway ... sorry for the brief diversion ...

As you were, folks!

:D

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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:12 pm 
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Ooo, another recorder player! Excuse the excitement, but I love knowing about people who have actually studied recorder. I never had lessons because there were no teachers available, but I've had music most of my life and did classical piano and choir, so I figured out quite a lot on my own using what I knew, and from listening to CDs of recorder music. There seems to be much more opportunities for recorder players in Europe than in the States. Most people give a funny look when I say I play recorder. Then when I explain, they think I play a toy. :-?

Never got a chance to major in music, so I apologize for my very clumsy attempt at trying to explain what was going on in my head. I meant the minor scale that retained the original key signatures. Still not quite what I mean, but closer. Music for me is far more instinctive than academic at this point, but I try to use the proper terminology if I can. My older one is a music major in college, and she focuses more on jazz now, which can be quite complex, so it's nice getting info from her when she's home

Peter, have you ever played on a Paetzold bass or contrabass? I really want to try one of those. I own and play up to a bent-neck tenor, but it's hard to find someone with one of these.


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 Post subject: Re: D Mixolydian
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:31 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
By the way, and totally off the subject, I really like that usage of "outwith". It's good ol' standard English usage, but for some reason it seems to have virtually disappeared from everywhere except Scotland.

Yep, I knew that, but am sometimes still surprised when it gets picked up as outwith the norm. On which note, you can find some entertaining reading by Googling 'outwith scotland'. Like this, which I'm sure you'll enjoy...
http://random-idea-english.blogspot.co.uk/p/outwith.html

Mae wrote:
Ooo, another recorder player! Excuse the excitement, but I love knowing about people who have actually studied recorder.

I spent a year (1986–7) on a postgraduate scholarship from Edinburgh University studying recorder at Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague with ambitions to be a professional player. But just couldn't find enough work in Scotland and didn't want (as so many advised me to do) to head for London, so rather changed tack and have now been a Highland school music teacher for 27 years. I rarely play recorder these days, but still have some instruments I bought 30 or even 40 years ago.

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so I apologize for my very clumsy attempt at trying to explain what was going on in my head.

It was Wikipedia I thought possibly clumsy, not you! But no need for apologies regardless...

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Peter, have you ever played on a Paetzold bass or contrabass? I really want to try one of those. I own and play up to a bent-neck tenor, but it's hard to find someone with one of these.

Sure I've blown a couple (probably great bass and contra), but many, many years ago. Not much help to you, but I've owned a Paetzold blackwood alto (we call them trebles here) since I was 18, but play it with a block I made myself when I was in the Hague. It's one of two Paetzolds I'd tried at Saunders Recorders in Bristol and the other was oak (yes, really oak!) and unbelievably quiet. So Paetzold's innovations/experiments with materials etc. haven't just been limited to square basses, although I'd take any of the excellent square ones (or indeed virtually anything else) over that oak alto!

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