Friday, January 28, 2011

The Major scale and it's modes a theoretical and by ear (sonorous) approach -Kwame Obeng Dako

The Major scale and it's modes a theoretical and by ear (sonorous) approach -Kwame Obeng Dako

Music discussed here is the western form of music. Scales form the backbone of music no matter how you see them. The major scale is one of the numerous scales available and indeed one of the most popular. Scales are built from intervals.

Interval is the distance between two notes from the lower note to the higher one. Intervals come in different sizes and qualities. When sounded one after the other it a melodic interval and when sounded together a harmonic interval. The least interval here is the half step ( a semitone ) one fret away or just the distance between two successive notes on the classic piano.

Intervals can be described as major, minor, perfect, augmented and diminished also unison, second, third, fourth, fifth,sixth and seventh.









The major scale is built from two tetrachords separated by a whole step (tone), or a series of consecutive 8 notes in a T T S - T - T T S (W W ½ - W - W W ½) manner.

With this in mind the C Major scale would thus be spelt C D E F G A B C or the A Major scale A B C# D E F# G# A

Modes simply are a particular pattern of notes that can be played over an octave, in the past when key signatures were not really used, modes were prominent.

The major scale being seven notes can have seven permutations (order is necessary)

In each of these permutations the tetra-chords would not be the same and no longer necessarily separated by a tone. Each mode has a name and could also just be thought of as the first, second, third and so on mode.

Now many of us are already exposed to the major scale, we may know do re mi fa so la ti do' and that simply represents the first mode of the major scale also known as the tonic scale (major scale)

Before I write out the various mode let me comment about solfa notations. They are very good since they give the flexibility of just knowing what note irrespective of its true name and key in which you are. For this purpose of modes and analysis there are two approaches to being able to hear the different modes by ear.

The first approachaka kodako chromatic (lol) is by maintaining that the first note you hear is a do Do and all other notes emanate from here whether they be in the scale or not and such you would have the de, mo, fi, se, to the accidentals occurring and one's ability to identify notes in the chromatic scale is necessary and I recommend getting use to the chromatic scale in order to use this approach.

The second approachaka kodako tonic in there (lol) is by ignoring the fact that the first note should be a do Do and listening to the whole series of notes and hearing a resultant do Do in the phrase eventually. Under such circumstances your brain (at least mine) would first hear a series of notes it can't easily identify but after listening to the whole series you get a feeling that it started for example on the third degree say mi and thus you realise that it probably was a mi fa so la ti do re mi that was sung and because we can all sing the major scale easily, identifying where it was started from is far more easier than trying to sing note of the major scale with different names like to se trust me our brains have already associated the intervals the moment we learn solfa notation and so listening for the pattern is easily processed by our minds.

The modes

First mode – Ionian

we have I II III IV V VI VII I
or do re mi fa so la ti do
in C major would be C D E F G A B C
intervals are major2 major3 perfect4 perfect5 major6 major7 and octave

both approaches come to the same conclusion

Second mode – Dorian

we have I II bIII IV V VI bVII I
or do re mo fa so la to do
in C major would be C D Eb F G A Bb C
intervals are major2 minor3 perfect4 perfect5 major6 minor7 and octave

second approach would be to sing re mi fa so la ti do re and wow it makes sense to your mind already

Third mode – Phrygian

we have I bII bIII IV V bVI bVII I
or do de mo fa so se to do
in C major would be C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C
intervals are minor2 minor3 perfect4 perfect5 minor6 minor7 and octave

second approach mi fa so la ti do re mi cool!

Fourth mode – Lydian

we have I II III #IV V VI VII I
or do re mi fi so la ti do
in C major C D E F# G A B C
intervals major2 major3 augmented4 perfect5 major6 major7 and octave

second approach fa so la ti do re mi fa


Fifth mode – Mixolydian

we have I II III IV V VI bVII I
or do re mi fa so la to do
in C major C D E F G A Bb C
intervals major2 major3 perfect4 perfect5 major6 minor7 and octave

second approach so la ti do re mi fa so

Sixth mode – Aeolian also Natural minor

we have I II bIII IV V bVI bVII I
or do re mo fa so se to do
in C major C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
intervals major2 minor3 perfect4 perfect5 minor6 minor7 and octave

second approach la ti do re mi fa so la

Seventh mode – Locrian

we have I bII bIII IV bV bVI bVII I
or do de mo fa fi se to do
in C major C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
intervals minor2 minor3 perfect4 diminished5 minor6 minor7 and octave

second approach ti do re mi fa so la ti

Notice how the sound of the tritone is in both the lydian and locrian modes.

Do this in all keys everyday to get the sounds in your head and the patterns in your hands and God bless all.

1 comment:

  1. by all standards, this is a great post. simple enough 4 beginners 2 understand & could serve as a refresher 4 more experienced guys. i particularly like the use of the various terms [solfas, etc] 2 make the explanation clearer.

    good job, man. can't wait 4 ur next post!!!

    ReplyDelete

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