Explaining the confusing parts of modes
  • I'm putting together a powerpoint presentation to explain the modal system for non specialists.

    Tell me, bluntly, how useful this is, recognizing that this is JUST AN EARLY DRAFT, and necessarily incomplete.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 234
    This confuses me (BMus, MMus). I would rather simply start with solfege, and then explain the dominant and finalis of each in terms of solfege. Singing a chromatic scale on numbers is rather difficult even for trained folks, requiring 12 properly-tuned small intervals. Grasping the solfege of the aurally-familiar major scale is an easy starting point, and then one only has to say, look, try singing mi to mi, and that's mode III, and from there explain the finalis/dominant bit.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,967
    there are 8 pitches between any given note and its twin, an octave higher or lower.
    Chris, what's your plan for dealing with the wise guy who will (correctly) tell you he can only count 6?
  • Gamba,

    I'm trying to build up to solfege, rather than starting as if it makes self-evident sense. This approach is based on my experience trying to start as if it did make self-evident sense and failing abysmally. "Ut" refers both to a particular pitch and to a place in a scale, and I'm trying to build the scale before I start referring to the solfege syllables.


    The word "between" is the problem I need to solve. Suggestions?
  • WGS
    Posts: 233
    How about "gamut"?
  • WGS,

    Is that clever as well as helpful? (I've got a diagram of the Guidonian hand on my desk.)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,209
    Try: "8 pitches (inclusive) from any given note to its next higher (or lower) twin ... whence the term 'octave' "

    Note, that while we say a week consists of 7 days, in German week is called "acht Tagen" - literally 8 days.
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  • Charles,

    Yes, the Germans do have a funny way of counting, don't they. Not to worry, though, since the French for 2-weeks is 'Aujourd'hui en quinze" -- or, today, in 15 (days). The English, of course, call it a fortnight (why they name it after a video game is anyone's guess).
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,967
    Yes, ("Tagen" being of course the dative case) much as one says "huit jours" in French.

    What I found confusing is that Greek modes, church modes, and diatonic modes are three distinct things, and that your audience is likely to have had some exposure only to the last. There are only 7 diatonic pitches, and mode 8 is of course not mode 1 an octave higher. I learned (a little) Greek theory before dealing with church modes, so the idea of conjunct vs. disjunct tetrachords helped with the authentic/plagal distinction. So why not be clear from the start that there are 4 ways of starting a mode, on C, D, E & F, and that there are 2 ways of continuing, so that twice 4 gives 8?

  • I would avoid any discussion of the Greek modes alongside the church modes. I have seen otherwise competent and intelligent musicians end up completely confused when the modal system is taught to them by mixing together these two systems.

    The fundamental property of the Gregorian modes is the dominant/finalis relationship, and that is how they should be taught. Range is secondary, both from a practical perspective of learning how to sing in each mode and in understanding the true meaning and context of each mode. None of that has the slightest to do with modern usages and conceptions of the Greek modes, which are entirely based on range.

    To me, it's like analyzing orchestration by knowing the loudest/softest and highest/lowest pitches of each instrument, rather than understanding the core techniques and timbres of each. It's not conducive to penetrating to the heart of the subject, and it muddies the waters considerably.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,948
    It might be helpful to start with the familiar major scale, and show a graphic representation of it; and then talk about singing a scale from re up to re, and so on.
    A melody in the major scale has certain relationships between the notes, and it gives us a sense of closure when it ends at 'do'.

    If a melody ends at 're', those relationships are shifted; and the sense we experience at the end is different: not quite closure, but a kind of openness.
    307 x 331 - 3K
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,967
    I don't advocate other systems alongside, but I think Schönbergian will concede the necessity of being clear from the very beginning that one is addressing a specific use of the word 'mode', and even 'church mode'. The problem I see looming over the other starts at an explanation is that 7 ≠ 8. One could put Gregorian modes into a nutshell by taking Chonak's first 4 scales and stating that related pairs of scales can be constructed by thinking of either the 1st or the 5th note as a resting point.
  • Chonak,
    Something very much like this was the plan for the next "slide" (the original is PPT, but that won't load around here).

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,948
    Good, then! I just like to start with familiar things and expand from there. I think it's a sort of educational truism, not that I took any music-ed courses in school.

    About the files: yes, PDFs are fine, PPTs not so much. Browsers can't display PPTs anyway.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,380
    built this page many years ago... (2008, actually)

    hope it helps

    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Francis,

    I can't get your page to work. Some plug-in isn't supported?
  • Chris, it didn't work for me initially, but I just played around with Flash and was able to enable it to view the site... and then reset Flash to block again when finished.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,380
    chrome will block flash... you have to go into settings and turn on the 'allow' for flash
  • I'm using Brave.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,638
    CGZ there is advice here.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,892
    A lot of people have Flash blocked by default these days, so presentations relying on them don't get viewed because they won't bother to go through the unblocking and reblocking toggle.