brettwi at ix.netcom.com
Thu Sep 14 23:49:20 PDT 1995
>I have a new tangent here; I keep hearing about Dorian and Lydian
>scale/mode; what scales were used in period, and how are they defined
>(Where are the half-steps?) That would help us keep things in period.
>also important, as is instrumentation and accompaniment.
>-Lark, searching constantly for more music.
Pardon for all the snipping...
Modes are a specific pattern of whole and half steps. As it was
explained to me, Pythagoras set the intervals used for Western music at
specific mathmatic ratios for reasons beknownst only unto him. He used
an instrument later named a monochord (one string, movable bridges).
The initial pattern of whole and half steps, the Mixolydian mode, goes
1 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1 and so on. Apparently the Dorian Greeks, of
which Pythagoras was one, thought three whole steps in a row sounded
too weird to live.
As a consequence, Ionian mode, our modern major scale, is farther down
the list. In full, they are:
Mixolydian (open or unstopped string) G to G
Aeolian (first space) A to A
Locrian (second space) B to B
Ionian (third space) C to C
Dorian (fourth space) D to D
Lydian (fifth space) E to E
Phrygian (sixth space) F to F
In order to hear each mode correctly using a monochord, one would shift
the tonic to the *space* on the fretboard corresponding to that mode.
In other words, if your tonic note was C, one would tune the string to
place the C on the first *space* of the fretboard to obtain Aeolian
It's more easily explained using a harp with no sharping levers
employed, or a keyboard. Using the notes listed above, play all the
white keys in sequence and you'll hear what the modes sound like.
Aeolian mode is now called the natural minor scale, I believe, but I've
had no formal theory study so don't quote me. :)
I've also read somewhere that each mode was assigned a planet (those
known to the Greeks) but I've not been able to find a primary source
for that information yet.
More information about the minstrel