[Smt-talk] Examples of Modes

Guerin, William Brian wguerin at indiana.edu
Thu Aug 22 12:09:19 PDT 2013

Dear Luke,

Excellent question!  There are probably two ways to answer it, depending on whether you're more concerned with the historical Church modes, or with the modes as thought of by jazz musicians (that is, as rotations of the major scale without concern for things like range, typical intervallic gestures, etc.)

In the latter, case, I don't know of any single source — a lot of elementary jazz theory books  diagram the modes, but they don't seem to give examples from the literature.  However, looking up each individual mode on Wikipedia gives some examples, which should probably be verified of course! :-)

As far as the historical Church modes go, yes, you could pick up one of the Catholic chant books and hunt at random according to the mode numbers, but p. 141 of Willi Apel's "Gregorian Chant" (Indiana University Press, 1958) gives some examples of each of the modes that he claims to be typical and to meet all the theoretical requirements. They seem to!  Page numbers are for the 1961 "Liber Usualis", which any decent-sized music library will have, but since it's in the public domain you can also access the massive 115+ megabyte download here:


This is in traditional chant notation, but if a 5-line staff and modern noteheads are more appropriate for your students you can hunt around for the 1923 version of the Liber Usualis and consult the index for the page numbers.

Anyway, here are the examples.

Dorian: Viderunt omnes, p. 410
Hypodorian: Ego sum pastor, p. 439
Phrygian: Gustate, p. 1015
Hypophyrigian: Quod dico, p. 1173
Lydian: Dico vobis, p. 984
Hypolydian: Exsultavit, p. 352
Mixolydian: Dicite, p. 337
Hypomixolydian: Modicum, p. 824

Hope this helps (if not you then someone else!)


William Guerin
Ph.D. Candidate, Music Theory, Indiana University
Software Developer, Web Systems
Music Information Technology Services
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
wguerin at indiana.edu

From: Luke Schwartz <lschwartzmusic at gmail.com<mailto:lschwartzmusic at gmail.com>>
Date: Saturday, August 17, 2013 11:12 PM
To: <smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org<mailto:smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>>
Subject: [Smt-talk] Examples of Modes

Dear Colleagues,

I am in search of examples of all church modes. I'm sure this has come up before, but it seems as though there is not an easy-to-find solid source or textbook with examples from literature for all the modes. Any suggestions out there for sources or individual examples? Thanks for your time!

Kind Regards,

Luke P. Schwartz, Composer/Guitarist
Music Faculty - Kaufman Center - New York, NY<x-apple-data-detectors://0/0>
LSchwartzMusic at gmail.com<mailto:LSchwartzMusic at gmail.com>

Luke P. Schwartz, Composer/Guitarist
Music Faculty - Kaufman Center - New York, NY
LSchwartzMusic at gmail.com<mailto:LSchwartzMusic at gmail.com>

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