Theory question - brightness of modes content.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by giggedy, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    Ok, so I'm aware of the pattern that creates, the modes based off of the major scale, most bright to less bright. The order is:

    Lydian
    Major/Ionian
    Mixolydian
    Dorian
    Aeolian
    Phrygian
    Locrian

    They're known to go from most bright (lydian) to least bright (locrian), and they way that it happens is a lowering of the 4th scale degree from lydian to ionian, and then it's a lowering of the 4th of the last note that was lowered.

    For example, to get from mixolydian to dorian, you flat the 3rd, which is the 4th of the last note lowered. The last note lowered was the 7th to get from ionian to mixolydian. The 3rd is the 4th of the 7th.

    My question is this:

    How does this relate to the modes based off of the melodic minor and harmonic minor scales? Are there similar patterns to get certain sounds? Is there a most bright to least bright with melodic minor and harmonic minor?

    Thanks in advance,
    giggedy
     
  2. henry_the_horse

    henry_the_horse Member

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    It appears that the modes of the major scale you listed are ordered following the circle of 5ths. Try ordering the modes of the bachian scale (melodic minor) and the harmonic minor in the same way to see if the go from bright to dull or viceversa. Personally, I have never seen this brightness order of the major scale modes.

    Regards
     
  3. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    good idea, I'm watching a movie tonight, I'll get out the instrument tomorrow. I had never seen the brightness order before a few months ago, I can hear it pretty well now.

    Basically, lydian is the most overtonal/bright, and phrygian is the most reciprocal/dark of the major scale modes. Locrian takes it another step by lowering the 5th, which is the 4th of the last note changed (from aeolian to phrygian, the 2nd is flatted).
     
  4. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    I noticed that if I go more overtonal, it then raises the root in the lydian mode, and brings you to the major scale one whole step higher than the original root.
     
  5. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]I've seen this ordering of the modes. But I didn't realized they went along the cycle of fifths. That's interesting/cool.
     
  6. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    yeah, I think it might lose it's context when you lose the root, and the 12 tone equal tone lattice might be losing the context too. I just thought this was interesting.

    Back to the original question, is there a bright to dark pattern for the melodic and harmonic minor scales?
     
  7. dead of night

    dead of night Member

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    I think darkness is determined by the number of flatted tones in the scale. Use that as a measure.
     
  8. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I understand the reasoning for this but never believe it carried much weight musically.

    The Lydian scale can be a very dark scale/mode. This is E Lydian, nothing bright here: http://test.mikedodge.com/mvdmusic/MikeD1/elydian.mp3

    This is idea looks good on paper and if you're building chords with them it carries some weight, but in application it's just a concept not always a reality.

    As for the Melodic and Harmonic Minor scales, there's a only a couple of of really useful Modal scales within them. Sure you can pick them apart different ways and apply the Diatonic concepts to them, but the each of them only really has a couple commonly used Modes a piece. I think most people who venture into Diatonic concepts with these two scales realize real quick that they are forcing practices on something that's not really there.
     
  9. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Yes. That is, if you're willing to abstract the idea. Mike mentioned that there aren't as many useful modes of M.M. However, I'd like to point out that when people say things like that, they're often thinking about an assumed or understood context - for example, the use of modes of M.M. in Jazz.

    Since John Cage wrote 4'33" we can pretty much do anything (or in that case, nothing!) we want musically. Whether "anything" fits into a particular style or genre depends on that style or genre.

    I have seen the modes listed from "bright to dark" (and vice versa) many times. I once wrote a Theme and Variations where the theme was "varied" by recurring in ever-darker modes.

    But listing them this way doesn't really tell us much about them other than give them some use (like my T&V) you might put them to.

    In a simple sense, all you've done is taken the mode whose half steps are in the highest positions possible (4-5 and 7-8) and lowered a note in circle of 5ths order to produce a pattern that moves the half steps down, ultimately to Locrian, where they're the lowest they can be (1-2 and 4-5).

    So you could simply use the "circle of 5ths" approach for "relative minors" for harmonic minor modes:
    D E F G# A B C D
    A B C D E F G# A
    E F G#A B C D E
    B C D E F G# A B
    F G# A B C D E F
    C D E F G# A B C
    G# A B C D E F G#

    But, you might want to take a different approach. For example, in the harmonic minors above, the +2 interval is the most characteristic element, and you might want to order them such that it appears in higher to lower positions, which is similar to the element in the "plain" modes that seems to make them "brighter and darker":
    G# A B C D E F G#
    A B C D E F G# A
    B C D E F G# A B
    etc.

    This puts the F-G# interval closer to the starting point in each cycle. Obviously, this produces a simple "circle of 2nds" pattern.

    And of course, you could use other intervals to determine things, or, you could just use it like Major (since one mode of minor is Major):
    Lydian Harmonic: F G# A B C D E F
    Ionian Harmonic: C D E F G# A B C
    Mixolydian Harmonic: G# A B C D E F G#
    Dorian Harmonic...

    etc.

    I for one think a more interesting, and less exploited aspect of the "plain" modes is their symmetry.

    D E F G A B C D is a palindrome - the intervals are the same forwards and backwards.

    C D E F G A B C has the same intervallic content, but backwards, as E F G A B C D E.

    So (in retrograde interval relationship):

    Dorian = Dorian
    Ionian = Phrygian
    Lydian = Locrian
    Mixolydian = Aeolian

    So I've never encountered other modes listed as "bright to dark" like the "plain" modes are. But you could certainly use the principles and apply them to other modes. WHY you'd want to do so can depend on many factors, but for me, it's usually looking for relationships I can use to my advantage when writing a piece.

    Best,
    Steve
     
  10. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    Thanks for the insights guys.

    Gennation - I actually just set up a C drone on my computer, and went through the modes in order of bright to dark, and then back.

    When I got back to lydian, I definitely got a lot of dark sounds going on.

    Ok, I'm going back to my drone, working on Mel Min now.

    I think this stuff is fascinating, all the different ways things can be viewed and grouped together. Steve, I like the retrograde interval relationships, that's sweet. It would be interesting to write a theme and variation piece using that.
     
  11. RichardB

    RichardB Senior Member

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    The first time I encountered the ordering of scales from "bright" to "dark", was in Persechetti's book, but it is a very common concept. The more sharps, the brighter.

    Actually the brightest possible scale would be the lydian w/ a raised 5th, and I do find the bright/dark thing to be a very discernable element, especially in modal contexts where the brightness can literally make my teeth hurt!!!
     
  12. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    so lydian augmented, the 3rd mode of melodic minor.
     
  13. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    so much simpler playing key based, just playing a mode pattern does not a mode make, its determined by the chord, or bass note not the mode pattern, so playing a lydian pattern to the root chord is going to get you the Ionian mode, playing lydian to the V chord is going to get you a Mixolydian mode.
     
  14. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    well, a lydian pattern over a root chord when the root is based off of lydian will be a lydian sound. I really don't think raising the 4th can get you an Ionian sound. And I think the pattern or shape your in does make a sound or a mode. If you're playing lydian to a V chord, your hopefully not throwing in the dominant 7 unless you want some tension.

    Maybe I'm not fully understanding what you're saying, or I'm thinking about it in a different context.
     
  15. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I've never found the #4 to be a very bright note in any context. The Lydian scale implies the maj7#11 chord, while it eliminates the 4 and M3 clash, the #4 still has tension with the 5. And overall with the Lydian mode you have a tri-tone form the Root to the #4 and and the #4 back to the Root. Of course the other Diatonic scales have this too, but the only other one having it stem from the Root it the Locrian scale.

    Besides creating a maj7#11 chord, the other thing that's special about the Lydian scale is it contains two maj7 chords stacks a 5th away...as in G Lydian has Gmaj7 and Dmaj7 stacked a 5th/4th from each other.
     
  16. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    actually, studies have shown that the #4 is more pleasing to the ear than the P4 when stacked 3rds make a chord or stacked 5ths. Tonal organization and the lydian chromatic goes into that, by George Russell.
     

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