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Message: Re: A modal question

Changed By: Viz
Change Date: December 27, 2018 08:58AM

Re: A modal question
Hi, I’ve been wanting to reply to this for days but sherry got the better of me.

Your question is expressed well by your first sentence - “Do you have to start on the root note to be in a certain mode?”

The answer depends on if you are talking about actual music, or about scales.

If actual music, the answer is of course NO. Drunken Sailor is in Dorian, and the first note “Hooray” is on the 5th degree of the scale, not the tonic.

But that’s an actual piece of music. In the case of a scale (which comes from Scala, meaning ladder), the convention is for the first and last rung to be the tonic. By default. So if you are “playing scales”, then yes you start on the tonic, so B phrygian starts and ends on the B. If you try to play A Dorian scale starting and ending on E, you will actually be playing an E Aeolian scale. That’s the name of that scale and there is no other name for it.

Note, there are some pieces that are bounted, top and bottom, by a note that isn’t the tonic. The Skye Boat song for example, starts on the low dominant (“speed”) and goes as high as the dominant above (“wing”), but that doesn’t alter the fact that those notes are dominants and that the tonic is on the words “boat” and “Skye”.

Original Message

Author: Viz
Date: December 27, 2018 08:50AM

Re: A modal question
Hi, I’ve been wanting to reply to this for days but sherry got the better of me.

Your question is expressed well by your first sentence - “Do you have to start on the root note to be in a certain mode?”

The answer depends on if you are talking about actual music, or about scales.

If actual music, the answer is of course NO. Drunken Sailor is in Dorian, and the first note “Hooray” is on the 5th degree of the scale, not the tonic.

But that’s an actual piece of music. In the case of a scale (which comes from Scala, meaning ladder), the convention is for the first and last rung to be the tonic. By default. So if you are “playing scales”, then yes you start on the tonic, so B phrygian starts and ends on the B. If you try to play A Dorian scale starting and ending on E, you will actually be playing an E Aeolian scale. That’s the name of that scale and there is no other name for it.