minstrel: re modes, old flute

ConstanceFairfax at cs.com ConstanceFairfax at cs.com
Sun Mar 18 22:34:38 PST 2001

In a message dated 3/18/01 9:07:57 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
corrie at itasca.net writes:

>  >...an old flute that played in Dorian...
>  I'm not professionally trained in music theory, but wouldn't any diatonic
>  instrument be able to play a Dorian mode?  For example, I have a dulcimer
>  with diatonic frets (W W H W W H W W W H W W H W W W H).  IOW I can't
>  play a chromatic scale, but depending on how I tension the strings I could
>  play in any mode, right?  You can't tune a flute (that's why pennywhistles
>  come in different sizes) but a mode is just a diatonic scale - the white
>  keys on the piano.  Ionian is C major - the white keys starting on
>  C.  Its wholestep/halfstep pattern is W W H W W W H.  Dorian is the same
>  notes but starting on D - D E F G A B C D - the wholestep/halfstep pattern
>  is W H W W W H W.  It's just a different segment of the diatonic scale.  
>  Corrie / Brendan

Corrie, you're absolutely right in theory.  If I want to play an irish tune 
on a pennywhistle, I will pull out a C Major pennywhistle and play in D 

The practical issue is this:

With the ability to retune, bend strings and half-hole removed, if you are 
given an instrument which had the ability to (only) produce pitches equal to 
DEFGABCD, you *would* be able to play dorian and pentatonic mode tunes on the 
instrument.  However, because the only major key which shares the same notes 
as D Dorian is C Major, you could never reach the fundamental (the C being a 
step below the lowest key).  If you don't have a fundamental, you really 
don't have a mode...the basis of "diatonic"...

So, if you have an instrument which has the spectrum of notes described as 
above, you would say that it was Dorian, or, more precicely, D Dorian.

Does that make sense?


To unsubscribe from this list, send email to majordomo at pbm.com containing
the words "unsubscribe minstrel". If you are subscribed to the digest version,
say "unsubscribe minstrel-digest". To contact a human about problems, send
mail to owner-minstrel at pbm.com

More information about the minstrel mailing list