Modes and semantics

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jack_gvr

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by jack_gvr » Fri Feb 06, 2009 6:07 pm

KenK wrote: Interesting that:
Hypodorian is the same as Aeolian
Hypophrygian is the same as Locrain
Hypolydian is the Major scale (Ionian)
Hypomixolydian is Dorian
Hypomixolydian is Phrygian
Hypoionian is Mixolydian

KenK
Not! It may be water off a duck's back to say it again, but FYI here it is:

Mode does not equal scale - EXCEPT in the dumbed down version which is current now. (A recent historical change.) A scale is just a series of notes, but a mode, in the classical sense, is a collection of melodic tendencies, and with regard to the church modes and the later 16th century additions which made the set of 12, the melodic tendencies were confined to a particular range, which range is the approximate length of the associated scale. The uses of the material are as important as the material, in these older systems. The old modes are not condusive to chordal thinking, which is a later concept. The advent of chordal thinking, which is generally pegged at (for a useful and accurate enough rough date) 1600, or the beginning of the Baroque, spelled the end of the use of the old modes by condensing them into the major/minor system. Hence the arguments about 8 vs. 12 modes in the 17th century, when musicians tried to maintain their old theoretical framework in the face of a modern (then) practice which led to a different way of thinking. Even today, the Major and Minor modes, which are quite alive and well, are differentiated as much by the different use of the material (most specifically the changing 6th and 7th degrees of the minor, which are seldom used in the major but very common in the minor) as by the scale itself.

If you want to get educated on ancient music practice, go to medieval.org and read up. There are tons of information there.

Jazz practice is about fitting scales to chord progressions. For this, the new concept of "modes" is OK, although not strictly necessary for most practice. I mean, when I improvise, I don't bother thinking about mode names, I work with only major or minor scales for the most part, and the fact that I start a scale on a different note than the tonic does not mean that I need to name it. I'm not particularly likely to start playing the scale on the root of the chord and go up an octave anyway, that's a recipe for boredom, so why should I bother identifying the name of the mode-as-inversion-of-scale? I'm concerned with movement from one scale system to another, and identifying the mode in Greek-name terms is about as useful to me as naming the legs on the chair before I sit down. Hey, it's got four legs, it doesn't fall over, big deal.

However, to get back to your observation:
KenK wrote: Hypodorian is the same as Aeolian
(etc.)
What's going on here is that you are overlooking the internal structure of the mode. In the Hypodorian, the root is D, but in the Aeolian, the root is A. The relationship of the root to its range is different in each case. The melodic tendencies of these two modes are also different. The Hypodorian, classically, allowed either B natural or B flat, under certain fairly definable rules - when it didn't simply skip the B - but the Aeolian does not allow a changing B - as a general rule. At cadences, the Hypodorian is likely to contain a C# for a leading tone; the Aeolian's leading tone is G#. In late 16th century polyphonic practice (not earlier, generally speaking), you could expect a major third for each, at cadences, which would be F# for the Hypodorian, and C# for the Aeolian.

In late Renaissance polyphonic practice, two modes were used at once: for instance, Dorian and Hypodorian. The use of polyphony was already blurring the distinction between plagal (="hypo-") and authentic modes, because (for instance) while the soprano voice might be in hypo-Dorian, the alto might be in Dorian, because of the difference in the range. Thus, if you look at Luis Milan's music, you'll find that he identifies the mode up front: "This Fantasia is in the First and Second Modes" and so on.

Historically, the modes have roots that are specific to each mode. In modern practice this has become confused, and so you get this idea that (for instance) a Dorian "mode" on D "belongs" to the "key of C", and then you get confused questions like the one that started this thread. There is a genuine confusion about that. I don't want to definitively argue the point - modern practice seems to permit both interpretations - but historically, the mode had it's own root. It's my opinion that if you say "A Phyrgian" then this should mean the series "A - Bb - C - D - E - F - G - A" - for what's it's worth.

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Tonyyyyy
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Re: Modes and semantics

Post by Tonyyyyy » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:14 pm

jack_gvr wrote:

In late Renaissance polyphonic practice, two modes were used at once: for instance, Dorian and Hypodorian. The use of polyphony was already blurring the distinction between plagal (="hypo-") and authentic modes, because (for instance) while the soprano voice might be in hypo-Dorian, the alto might be in Dorian, because of the difference in the range. Thus, if you look at Luis Milan's music, you'll find that he identifies the mode up front: "This Fantasia is in the First and Second Modes" and so on.

Historically, the modes have roots that are specific to each mode.In modern practice this has become confused, and so you get this idea that (for instance) a Dorian "mode" on D "belongs" to the "key of C", and then you get confused questions like the one that started this thread..
:merci: excellent points :contrat:
In modern practice this has become confused, and so you get this idea that (for instance)Dorian "mode" on D "belongs" to the "key of C"
Yes - its important to avoid this mistake The root is vital for the identity of the mode. It might be convenient, if the major scale/ionian mode is our default, to use that initially to work out other modes (it might equally be that the dorian is our default, then arguably we could use the seventh degree to find ionian/major). Whats important is that we think dorian, think myxolidian etc. This means having a clear concept of which is the root note , and we need know the characteristic melodic flow of each. Would you define the difference between a mode and a scale as being that a scale might or might not be useful in melodies (some scales being theoretical constructs whose 'tendencies' might be good in harmony, but not always in the creation of tunes,)...whereas the modes selected themselves over time to work well in vocal music ; (forget the 'theoretical' modes - some renaissance music writers were more interested in mathematics than playing practical music)

...the Baroque, spelled the end of the use of the old modes by condensing them into the major/minor system.
When i did a harmony course I dont think we covered modal writing at all (except to know which was which).'Music' seemed to start in 1700. In the survival of the fittest, major and minor pushed out the others, which did keep a foothold , mainly in various folk traditions, though it was used here and there in art music ; some composers used modes a lot. Listen , for example to Liszt, Vaughan Williams, Rodrigo etc
In late Renaissance polyphonic practice, two modes were used at once
that makes sense . Even Bach does things not too dissimilar in some of his fugal writing

KenK

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by KenK » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:30 pm

Hi Jack-

Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me on some of this. :)
You seem seriously into early music or music history.
I suspected there was more to "hypomodes" then a mere list of notes.
I'll be checking out medieval.org. I've always been curious about the advent of harmony.
It seems to have eliminated the art of counterpoint somehow.
jack_gvr wrote:A scale is just a series of notes, but a mode, in the classical sense, is a collection of melodic tendencies, and with regard to the church modes and the later 16th century additions which made the set of 12, the melodic tendencies were confined to a particular range, which range is the approximate length of the associated scale. The uses of the material are as important as the material, in these older systems.
In some ways this reminds me of what little I know about using ragas. More than a scale, but not quite a melody. Didn't these modes somehow get imported form the "East"?
Maybe these are Eastern musical concepts as well.
Hopefully there'll be some info about the "melodic tendency" aspect.
I don't think I'll be putting any of this into "practice", but it sounds like it will fill some holes in my sense music history.
jack_gvr wrote:Jazz practice is about fitting scales to chord progressions. For this, the new concept of "modes" is OK, although not strictly necessary for most practice. I mean, when I improvise, I don't bother thinking about mode names, I work with only major or minor scales for the most part, and the fact that I start a scale on a different note than the tonic does not mean that I need to name it. I'm not particularly likely to start playing the scale on the root of the chord and go up an octave anyway, that's a recipe for boredom, so why should I bother identifying the name of the mode-as-inversion-of-scale? I'm concerned with movement from one scale system to another, and identifying the mode in Greek-name terms is about as useful to me as naming the legs on the chair before I sit down.
For me the mode names, harmonic function and scale tones are all tied together.
I think of "IIIm7" and "the Phrygian mode" as different names for the same thing.
In fact, in my jazz playing I don't differentiate between chords and scales at all.
This does have a more modernist sound, but I don't specialize in dixieland or "big band"guitar.

Depending on the chart, I'll gravitate between using a "mode per chord function" kind of thinking to playing a "key center over several chords". Both methods get good results, but I personally find it helpful and even automatic to see D7#11 and know that this is a "Dominant Lydian mode" and it's the 4 of the "Jazz melodic minor". Thinking like that gives me more fluency, especially when I'm comping behind somebody.

"why should I bother identifying the name of the mode-as-inversion-of-scale?"

Certainly, the names themselves aren't important, unless you're working w/ someone who communicates that way. But I do think the scale/tone/functionality is paramount.

:wink:
KenK

jack_gvr

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by jack_gvr » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:05 pm

KenK wrote:In some ways this reminds me of what little I know about using ragas. More than a scale, but not quite a melody. Didn't these modes somehow get imported form the "East"?
Maybe these are Eastern musical concepts as well.
Right, I found that knowing something (not much, really!) about raga clarified my thinking about modes considerably. In raga, there is no modulation and the root stays put. All ragas have the same root, barring retuning the instrument. The fifth of the scale is important enough to be un-alterable, so there are only 5 scale tones which change from raga to raga - (but there are more possible alterations because of the half-flats & half-sharps). The western modes actually can fit into this system, and where they don't (because of changes in thinking over time), it's instructive.

As far as the modes getting imported from the east, there is no clear documentation, but lots of tantalizing evidence. The Indian set of solfege syllables - "sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni" dates from the 5th century; this is supposedly documented in existing datable texts (sorry no footnote!) The Arabs in Spain likewise had a set of six (not seven) similar syllables. There was, IMHO, undoubtedly musical cross-fertizilation between the Hindu, Muslim, and Christian domains, with some additional input from ancient Greek (definitely) and ancient Egyptian (possibly, this is not so convincingly documented) sources. However, the closed nature of medieval and Renaissance European (Christian) thought, because of the real danger of being burned at the stake for heresy, meant that those ideas which were learned, used, and transformed by European musicians from other cultures needed to be carefully disguised.

Also, it remains my opinion that the church modes were an intentionally dumbed-down system. In Hindu culture, a musician's beginner period lasts for 12 years, with further developmental periods after that (this from Ali Akbar Khan) and the medieval catholic church was not interested in training musicians for long periods in something as questionable as music; I think they were interested in a simple system which would not be difficult to grasp in a fairly short time. It's quite possible that Guido D'Arezzo studied in Spain from Muslim musicians during the course of the "Reconquista" and that the innovations attributed to him were a new, simplified distillation for "simple monks" of much more complex ideas coming from the tradition of Ziryab (famous medieval Spanish/Muslim lute player).
KenK wrote:In fact, in my jazz playing I don't differentiate between chords and scales at all.
This does have a more modernist sound, but I don't specialize in dixieland or "big band"guitar.
Similarly, I just think in terms of "key domains". A chord symbol implies a scale, modified by the adjacent chords, so a progression defines a "key domain" with some possible alterations, and possible abrupt shifts of domain, say from the major scale of the key to a nearby harmonic minor, or further. I don't even think much of the numbers of the scale degrees. Because I practice all major and minor scales in all positions, using numerical/rhythmic formulas and starting on all notes of a particular scale, it's easy for me to shift "domains" on the fly in any position. My observation of players who think in modes is that they seem to get locked into particular finger patterns that they have identified as "this is mixolydian, so I'll jump into this pattern to play over this dominant" - and that is not flexible enough for me. Most of what I do is drawn from the major and harmonic minor scales, with some use of the melodic minor (including, but fairly rarely for me, that Lydian-w-b7th that makes the dominant-sharp-11th on the 4th degree).

I think that for my teaching purposes, it's necessary to separate the concepts of chord and scale and examine the relationships, but it is true that in actual practice they start to merge - to a greater or lesser extent depending on your tolerance for dissonance and/or a "pan-diatonic" sound. I define a hierarchy of dissonance: chord tones, scale tones, outside tones. I'm probably a lot more careful and conservative about this than you are, because I don't play "jazz" in public, but I do improvise a lot of what I play, following the same general rules.

Also, I find that the pan-diatonic aspect of "chord=scale" begins to resemble the use of raga, but with continually shifting modes.
KenK wrote:Hopefully there'll be some info about the "melodic tendency" aspect.
For that, read Jeppesen! (look at Am_a_zone for "Knud Jeppesen"). His book on counterpoint has some really good historical background. You can probably find some of that at medieval.org, too, but you have to hunt and the material is not always well organized, you have to wander through the maze of internal hyperlinks because there are many pages that are not indexed.

-- jack

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Tonyyyyy
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Re: Modes and semantics

Post by Tonyyyyy » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:48 am

Thanks Jack, another great post

Jeppeson is $100+ for a used copy on that particular site - I may ask my library!

An interesting point concerning the development of the major / minor system
The ecclesiastical modes found in monophonic chant (Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) assumed certain melodic alterations of modal tones, and the nature of the modes changed further when they began to be used in polyphony. In his Counterpoint Knud Jeppeson identifies several general principles for the introduction of tones outside the mode:
(1) With the exception of the Phrygian, it became customary in cadences to the tonic to raise the seventh degree if the mode lacked a semitone below the tonic. In this way most of the modes came to resemble our modern major and minor scales....
http://www.ars-nova.com/cpmanual/alteredmodes.htm

jack_gvr

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by jack_gvr » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:15 am

Tonyyyyy wrote:...
The ecclesiastical modes found in monophonic chant (Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) assumed certain melodic alterations of modal tones, and the nature of the modes changed further when they began to be used in polyphony. In his Counterpoint Knud Jeppeson identifies several general principles for the introduction of tones outside the mode:
(1) With the exception of the Phrygian, it became customary in cadences to the tonic to raise the seventh degree if the mode lacked a semitone below the tonic. In this way most of the modes came to resemble our modern major and minor scales....
http://www.ars-nova.com/cpmanual/alteredmodes.htm
Right, this is part (not all) of the picture of the characteristic melodic patterns of the different modes. Those melodic characteristics are a moving target through the several centuries preceding the opening of the Baroque, as there was considerable stylistic evolution going on. In the earliest monophonic chant, the melodic patterns had more to do with characteristic skips and emphasis on certain tones. With the development of polyphony, harmonic patterns and combinations involving chromatic alterations became important which wouldn't have been used earlier. It's worth noting that tuning and intonation practices were different then, too, which meant that the intervals were tuned differently than what we would play now. Some of those chromatic patterns, such as the "Landini Cadence", came and went like the dodo and the dinosaurs. Not all were incorporated into the eventual major/minor system.

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Re: Modes and semantics

Post by Jeremiah Lawson » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:25 am

Jack, you just reminded me why I'm glad I spent years singing Renaissance choral music in high school and college. :) The more discussions I see about modes on Delcamp the more I realize how beneficial it was for me to spend time in choirs where there were immediate, practical applications to the kinds of stuff discussed here.

The rotational set of diatonic modes might be an okay introduction to how to learn the intervallic relationships but you want to jettison that as soon as you can so you think of the modes as independently movable patterns that generate certain melodic tendencies. When I was in my teens I attempted to compose with this idea in mind--I wrote a long pointlessly rambling jam fest that shifted across the modes possible in E. Basically it was very low-rent imitation of Frank Zappa and I had fun but I'd never want anyone to hear that junk now! Thankfully I'm not sure where that tape ever ended up. :wink:

It's also fun to compare notes between guitarists on locrian and choral conductors on locrian. The choral conductor will tell you that there is no locrian mode. There might be one or two Arvo Part pieces that use what we might call locrian or a piece by Kodaly in an adventurous mood ... but it's an instrumentalist's mode more than a singer's, at the risk of making a sweeping generalization.

lil_clair

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by lil_clair » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:38 am

Guitar Slim wrote:I'm really considering backing off on the CG repertoire for a while and working on some more creative aspects of guitar playing -- improving my harmonic vocabulary, developing my improv and composition skils, etc..
no need to mate :) you can incorporate all these concepts into yr CG repertoire or any piece in any genre you want to learn - all music is scales arpeggios and chords right?

im looking at some of the bach violin partitas at the moment - so an example of how to work on say the allemande with impro using modes is to first analyze the chord progression (which you should do anyways) and then play the scales and arpeggios of those chords that youve worked out.
so if the chord prog is: dmin - C#dim7 - dm - Bb - A7.
you can first play those arpeggios. then work out what modes or scales fit.
d min - D aeolian
C#dim - you can play the diminished scale or just arpeggio again.
Bb - Bb ionian
A7 - A mixo

then from there play all the possible patterns and combinations you can think of using those scales and arpeggios. it can be as simple as playing the first two notes of the scale. the most important thing is to get used to all these sounds so they are just as familiar as the major scale.

A good description of this type of practice is in the Jamie Aebersold books on jazz improv. and can be applied to ANY piecfe of music. and a good simple, yet in depth explanation of the modes and which chords they fit with is a book like mark levines jazz theory.

something i found interesting was going thru the omni book of charlie parker and analysing his solos - he nearly always falls on a note of the triad on the beat and then scale tones in between (even though he is playing quavers at 260 bpm :shock: ) also working out some django solos, again all scales and arpeggios with notes of the triad on the beats.

very enjoyable thread btw. still getting thru jacks posts. :)

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Tonyyyyy
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Re: Modes and semantics

Post by Tonyyyyy » Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:33 pm

Jack_gvr said
As far as the modes getting imported from the east, there is no clear documentation, but lots of tantalizing evidence. The Indian set of solfege syllables - "sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni" dates from the 5th century; this is supposedly documented in existing datable texts (sorry no footnote!) The Arabs in Spain likewise had a set of six (not seven) similar syllables.
The arabic system Durr-i-Mufassal or "Separated Pearls" is ....dal, ra, mim, fa, sad, lam. Seems close , as does the Indian system

jack_gvr

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by jack_gvr » Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:57 pm

Tonyyyyy wrote:Jack_gvr said
...The Indian set of solfege syllables - "sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni" dates from the 5th century; ... The Arabs in Spain likewise had a set of six (not seven) similar syllables.
The arabic system Durr-i-Mufassal or "Separated Pearls" is ....dal, ra, mim, fa, sad, lam. Seems close, as does the Indian system
Right, they both appear too close to the European syllables to be coincidence! (Like the pyramids in Mexico, another likely diffusion story.)

Code: Select all

Eur.            Hind.            Arab.  
do /ut           sa                dal 
re              re                 ra
mi             ga                 mim
fa              ma               fa
sol             pa                sad
la              dha               lam
si / ti         ni                 ---
WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:...the modes as independently movable patterns that generate certain melodic tendencies. When I was in my teens I attempted to compose with this idea in mind--I wrote a long pointlessly rambling jam fest that shifted across the modes possible in E. Basically it was very low-rent imitation of Frank Zappa and I had fun...
Right, intriguing line of thought, huh? I messed with this kind of thing too, but nothing that put money in the tip jar, in the long run. Might have possibilities for playing live for a rave... :D
Tonyyyyy wrote:Would you define the difference between a mode and a scale as being that a scale might or might not be useful in melodies (some scales being theoretical constructs whose 'tendencies' might be good in harmony, but not always in the creation of tunes,)...whereas the modes selected themselves over time to work well in vocal music;
Most obviously with regard to symmetrical scales: chromatic, diminished, wholetone. I mean, if you have a melody that is useful in that people like it, sing it, play it, listen to it, then the mode which can be theoretically extrapolated from it is useful, too. It seems like a safe bet that the melody came first, though, and the theory afterward. As far as jazz goes, you look back historically and you see the beboppers taking off in the 40s and writing these wild tunes, and then sometime in the early 50's the "Lydian Chromatic" theory shows up. The theory behind "Lydian Chromatic" had already been explored (at least some) by Scriabin, but George Russell was responding with theory to the actual practice of his time, only a few years later (I'm sure it took that long to write the book.)

The medieval /renaissance argument against the Locrian (then yet un-named) was that it had a flat fifth; to them that was a deal-breaker. Flat fifths were going to have to wait a while! The 12 mode system of the 16th century may appear to be very theoretical now, but in its time it was a response to the fact that composers were stretching beyond the boundaries of the older 8 mode system, and leaving the theorists high and dry. They weren't ready for Locrian, though.

classicalgas

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by classicalgas » Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:50 am

mark96 wrote:
sulponticello wrote:A phrygian is the F major scale, only beginning on A.

The phrygian mode is always the third mode of a diatonic major scale.

But it is nice to also know the structure; the structure for the phrygian mode is:

R b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 R


So, take any major scale, and run it through this structure, and you will be playing the phrygian scale.

e.g. to play E phrygian, take the E major scale, and flatten the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th notes.
There are two ways to consider the modes, one is as you have described, but if you look at it from a structural perspective:

W - wholestep, two semitones
h - halfstep, one semitone
numbers are relative to root and played in the corresponding step

Ionic (Major)
WWhWWWh
12345671

Dorian
WhWWWhW
23456712

Phrygian
hWWWhWW
34567123

Lydian
WWWhWWh
45671234

Mixolydian
WWhWWhW
56712345

Aeolian (minor)
WhWWhWW
67123456

Locrian
hWWhWWW
71234567

Which shows that the modes do not alter but honors the key. The Phrygian mode of the key of C Major is EFGABCDE (34567123 -- hWWWhWW). Now you see the quandry: you are saying "E Phyrgian" means to play E Major with the steps associated with the Phrygian mode -- hWWWhWW, which you will find works out to be the diminished 2367 you cite above.

"E Phrygian" is (or appears to be) also correctly interpreted as G# A B C# D# E F# G# (34567123), as the Phrygian mode of E Major.

If your interpretation of the matter is correct, or most common, then you have answered my initial question, and the rest is academic.

Mark
Thank you, I find that understanding structure and intervals is key to ear training.

andyp13

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by andyp13 » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:24 am

Thanks for the info :)

mark96

Re: Modes and semantics

Post by mark96 » Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:15 pm

here is a good discussion on the myriad of ways to look at modes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Properties ... ical_modes

Almost all of the ideas covered here are in the wiki article.

One understanding to which I have come, as A minor (A Aeolian) is the relative minor (Aeolian mode) of C Major, so also is E Phrygian (for example) the relative Phrygian mode of C Major. Both are tied to their direct Majors, but found, respectively, in the modes of C Major.

What makes this fun is the fact that we have 84 modes from which to choose (12 Major scales times 7 modes), and chord structure and creation with any one key expands dramatically. I have a friend who composes in G Mixolydian quite often, though she thinks she is composing purely in C Major. Yet, looking at the structure of her compositions, she has a natural affinity toward the tonality of G Mixolydian.

Thanks again to all who contributed. It has been educational and fun.

Mark

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Re: Modes and semantics

Post by VasquezBob » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:10 am

Enjoyed reading all the postings on "Modes and Semantics". Many thanks,

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Re: Modes and semantics

Post by guit-box » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:49 pm

I think much of the point of something being in a modal key is missed unless we talk about a chord progression that is centered in that mode. It's a common sound to hear a song in Ionian (major) or aeolean(natural minor), less common to hear it in one of the other modes and some modes like Locrian have very little music written in it. Take a simple melody that is in C major like Yankee Doodle and transpose it so that it's in all the different modes but keeping the scale steps the same. (1123132112317 etc.) Play it in D Dorian, E Phrygian, etc. Harmonize it with an appropriate chord for that mode/note and notice how the melody is kind of similar but some of the intervals may be different by a little or a lot and also notice how the chords used to harmonize the notes will be different. (The I chord in C ionian is C major but the I chord in D dorian is D minor) I think this will go a long way to understanding how the modes actually relate to music rather than thinking just in terms of music theory.

This does a nice job of relating the mode to the chords in that mode with actual song examples
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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