Aristotle: Dorian is the manliest mode.
  • Geremia
    Posts: 224
    In Aristotle's Politics 1290a, he writes:
    of musical modes there are said to be two kinds, the Dorian and the Phrygian; the other arrangements of the scale are comprehended under one or other of these two.
    What does he mean by this?
    (cf. Pesic's Music and the Making of Modern Science ch. 3, "Moving the Immovable," where he discusses Josquin's De Profundis changing from "manly" Dorian to "emotional" Phrygian; cf. sound examples 3.3a–e and sound examples 3.4a–c.)

    In 1342b, he writes:
    All men agree that the Dorian music is the gravest and manliest.
    Why did Aristotle think this?
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  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,431
    And this is from Plato's Republic:

    Of the harmonies I know nothing, but would have you leave me one which can render the note or accent which a brave man utters in warlike action and in stern resolve; and when his cause is failing, and he is going to wounds or death or is overtaken by disaster in some other form, at every such crisis he meets the blows of fortune with firm step and a determination to endure; and an opposite kind for times of peace and freedom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition, or when on the other hand he is expressing his willingness to yield to the persuasion or entreaty or admonition of others. And when in this manner he has attained his end, I would have the music show him not carried away by his success, but acting moderately and wisely in all circumstances, and acquiescing in the event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and the strain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of the fortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance; these, I say, leave.
    And these, he replied, are the Dorian and the Phrygian harmonies of which I was just now speaking.
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  • wingletwinglet
    Posts: 41
    Dorian is definitely the manliest--it has a sturdiness about it. I've listened to a lot of Josquin, and his preference for Phrygian can induce a sort of softening in the mind and emotions.

    Do you still have that Canti Varii that was posted a while back? At the beginning there are some interesting variations on the Tantum Ergo chant that have a similar tune but in different modes. And looking through the Marian chants, the majority are either in Dorian or Hypophrygian, with Hypolydian close behind.

    Have a look at this--scroll down to find a discussion of mode and temperament.
  • Damon of Athens was certainly an advocate of the Dorian's appropriateness for the education of young men, and in the formation of manly character and attributes. He is, also, given credit for 'inventing' the Lydian mode - thought to foster effeminate and frivolous traits.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Is there very much similarity between Aristotle's Dorian and today's Dorian?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    There's a fair amount of Gray matter in that deliberation.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,937
    tuning is the biggest difference... since we use a tempered scale, the intervals in the various modes all sound alike. The only diff is the use of whole and half steps. This is why there would be a lot of controversy around modal affect.
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  • wingletwinglet
    Posts: 41
    Very true! Upon first discovering chant I wondered why bother about modes if they're all in the same "key".

    I don't get synaesthesia for modes...but your Wilde suggestion might induce it, melo!
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,069
    Plus the fact that the Frankish monks reused the Greek mode names for their completely different musical theory; so there is no actual relationship between what we might call "Dorian mode" (presumably, Gregorian mode I) and what they might call tonos dorikos, a version of which we would say sounds like mode III, or Phrygian.

    I agree with Francis that the intervals in the modern Western church modes, when tempered, are all basically half and whole tones; but I doubt that the tempering is ever what produces or produced modal affect. I'm sure that arises from the melodic patterns associated with each mode.

    After all, in purely vocal music, especially monophonic, the tempering is quite irrelevant since a human voice cannot sing precisely to within less than about 15 cents.

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  • MarkS
    Posts: 274
    The Greek 'modes' or 'species of octave', based on a system of varying tetrachords, is really quite different from the medieval church modes. Cleonides' writings (2nd or 3rd century C. E.) describe the ancient Greek Dorian 'species of octave', consisting of joined tetrachords, as resembling what we know as the Phrygian mode.

    but it looks as if I've been beaten to it!

  • Without doubt, our temperament makes all the modes sound differently than they did to the Greeks, let alone, the mediaevals. Still, is it fair to say that the modes are 'all in the same key', or that 'they all sound alike'? They aren't and they don't. Such an argument would hold, likewise, that our modern major and minor modes are both in 'the same key' and that they 'sound alike'. They aren't and they don't. While our temperament 'tempers' intervals differently from those heard by Greeks or mediaevals (or pre-equal temperament folk), it doesn't erase the fundamental difference of affect, mood, colour, and ethos of the different modes.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,937

    I did not say the modes sound all alike. I said the intervals in all the modes sound alike. To hear and compare the modes go to my "demystification of the modes".
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  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    Just because intervals are measured does not mean that there shouldn't be different modes.

    Is there a difference between a piece in C-Major, and one in a-minor?
    Should we just go ahead and put every piece into C-Major, and just make the accidentals show the difference, because who cares?

    I find a great deal of difference between the modes, even if I (hypothetically) choose for the Do of every chant to be c-natural.

    That's a reason that you can find a chant you "know" in the same mode as a chant that might be stumping you, and (after maybe singing a phrase or 2 of it) suddenly make it make more sense, and it just flow off the tip of your tongue.
    It's a reason that I sometimes encourage home practice of introits (that are stumping others) to begin with the psalm verse - it tends to put the correct mode into their heads, and prepares them, even unwittingly, for whatever curve balls the antiphon may throw their way.
  • Is a man unmanly if he should prefer Phrygian music? How old is the notion of a "feminine" ending, musically speaking?
  • lautzef
    Posts: 69
    Personally, I use the numbers for the church modes - Mode I, Mode II, etc. It doesn't really make much sense to use the Greek names for something that's different from what they meant (although it sounds more impressive).
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  • At least one Greek thought that assigning virtue or the lack of it as a result of listening to given modes was nonsense. Hippias of Elis (Vth cent. BC) asserted that enharmonic melody will 'no more make its votaries brave than chromatic will make them cowards'. Hippias may or may not have been correct. Dissent does not necessarily imply the veracity of the dissenting voice.

    Much as we (and especially I) would like to maintain that moral character can be inculcated or discerned from the music which given persons play or hear, there is abundant evidence that even some really awful people listen to some really exquisite music, and some really nice people listen to some really awful music; and that some awful people write and have written wondrously fine music, and vice versa. Still, I would maintain that there must be some objective and ontological difference betwixt Mozart or Tallis and certain other music which can only be described as hellish. There is nothing that will foul a mind more than the foul music to which large numbers of our society prefer to hear - and, that may go a long way to explain the general moral laxity of the otherwise nice people in our body politic. Anyone can be nice - if it pleases them to be.

    I commend to all Basil Cole, O.P.'s book, Music and Morals: A Theological Appraisal of the Moral and Psychological Effects of Music.

    Stravinsky, in The Poetics of Music, asserted that 'surely, music is a moral category'. This does seem rather a self evident truism.

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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    I find D minor is really the saddest of all keys...
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,105
    And I find F Major to be sad, also.

    G minor, on the other hand, I find to be solemn and dignified, but also joyful.
  • MarkS
    Posts: 274
    But, further, Aristotle is comparing the 'harmoniai' of various styles of music, which is a concept which includes characteristic melodic shapes and performance style

    I was once told that in practice the Greek 'modes' resembled Indian ragas as much as anything, in so far as they really consisted of groups of characteristic motivic- and melodic- shapes, rather than a collection of intervals.
  • Odd, isn't it?
    And soooo subjective!
    Adam finds d-minor sad.
    I find it noble.
    E flat-Major I find heroic.
    A-Major elegant.
    E-Major deliriously joyful if not ecstatic
    B-Major intelligent
    e-minor dreadfully sad
    Salieri often finds d-minor to be joyful -
    Mozart, with his symphony no. 40, would, I think, concur.
    & cet....

    And, look what Beethoven did with his c#-minor piano sonata: Ist mvmnt: a dirge-like and morose offering in memory of a friend who had died (NOT moonlight!); IInd mvmnt: a rather gay and dance-like movement complete with rhythmic syncopation in the enharmonic Db-Major; and IIIrd mvmnt: returning to c#-minor, a rollicking and definitive celebration of unfettered, indeflectible, vivacity.

    About that second movement: would we hear or apprehend it differently if B had written it in the sonata's C#-Major rather than the enharmonic Db-Major? Some of us might. To me sharp keys are relatively bright, flat ones relatively dull.
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    LIke Adam, many people have said that d minor is the saddest key, especially since musician Nigel Tufnel said so in this film about the rock ensemble he performed in. Here's the scene in which he shows a softer side and plays a gentle piano piece in that key:
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I find D minor is really the saddest of all keys...

    *Nope, C minor wins. Just the right amount of flat signs, or as Goldilocks sez, "Just right."
    *D minor is indeed sad, but it's more sad when the capo is applied to the third fret and piece played in B moll (a little known JSBach secret.) Organists place the capo at the relative distance of Pi from the fipple.
    *Beethoven wanted to establish A minor as the "saddest" only because Elise couldn't play enough black keys.
    *Copland was so repulsed by his mentor, Stravinski's multiple minor clusters, he sadly resolved to write everything in major mode.

    That's enough Henny Youngman for now. I'm available for contract work, here all week. Need the dough, retired you know.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,821
    I find D minor is really the saddest of all keys...

    This one goes to Orbis Factor.
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  • Hmmm.
    How is it that Dorian is thought to be manly - with all the nobility and virtue that that implies, but d-minor (the same scale) is thought to be sad. Yes, yes, Greek Dorian is/was not mode I or d-minor - but still and all.....

    (oh, and there's Bach's Dorian Toccata and Fugue - certainly not sad. Rather manly and vigourous, actually.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    Maybe it is more manly because it has bigger neumes?
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  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,946
    Not sure how manly "God rest ye merry gentlemen" is but it certainly isn't sad.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,946
    And ... what about "What Child is this..." ?
  • And, sorry, Melo, purple or not, c-minor doesn't win!

    Whatever there is to Beethoven's fifth, it isn't sad - not anywhere near sad. More prophetic, I would say... not too different from...

    Bach's great c-minor prelude and fugue (BWV 546), which I just played in recital last Sunday and will play again in recital on the glorious Pasi organ at Houston's Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart this coming Friday. It is a work of rare and profound gravitas, the brief appearance of the slurred sorrow motif notwithstanding. When playing it I think inevitably of the XXth century Anglican mystic Evelyn Underhill's sure notion about God's fecund vigour as expressed in her poem, 'Dynamic Love' -
    Not to me
    The Unmoved Mover of philosophy
    And absolute still sum of all that is,
    The God whom I adore - not this!
    Nay, rather a great moving wave of bliss,
    A surging torrent of dynamic love
    In passionate swift career,
    Down the sheer abyss
    Of Being ever pours, his ecstasy to prove.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,946
    And ... "Victimae Paschali laudes". Not sad at all. What has manliness to do with this music?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    If I ever start a geezer rock garage band again, I'm naming it "Fecund Vigour."