minstrel: Re: minstrel 12/8 time signature

Pat Yarrow yarrowp at mscd.edu
Fri Feb 3 11:31:06 PST 2006

The rhythmic modes were numbered, just as the melodic modes were.

They are sometimes given names derived from poetry, as follows with
approximate equivalents in 6/8 time.
Mode I:  trochaic   quarter eighth quarter eighth
Mode II:  iambic		eighth quarter eighth quarter
Mode III:  dactylic   dotted quarter eighth quarter
Mode IV:  anapestic	eighth quarter dotted quarter
Mode V:  spondaic		dotted quarter dotted quarter
Mode VI:  tribachic	eighth eighth eighth eighth eighth eighth

Bear in mind that the rhythmic modes were considered obsolete by the time of
the Ars Nova movement in the 14th century, so by no means all medieval music
subscribed to them.

For slightly more information:


Or a bit more:


-----Original Message-----
From: minstrel-bounces at pbm.com [mailto:minstrel-bounces at pbm.com] On Behalf
Of Scott Vaughan
Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 9:41 AM
To: minstrel at pbm.com
Subject: minstrel: Re: minstrel 12/8 time signature

It is my understanding that composers/collectors of medieval music did not
really think in terms of "time signatures" as we do today. They were
in terms of rhythmic modes - patterns of rhythm which often seem syncopated
our modern ears. The middle-eastern patterns that Vivien mentioned is a
good metaphor.

So now, I think the important question is, are there names for medieval
modes, like middle-eastern rhythms, or western *harmonic* modes? 

Master Efenwealt Wystle (aka Scott Vaughan)

minstrel mailing list, minstrel at pbm.com,
To unsubscribe, send email to minstrel-request at pbm.com with a SUBJECT of

More information about the minstrel mailing list