[Smt-talk] Examples of Modes

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be
Fri Aug 23 01:30:40 PDT 2013

It seems to me that CHURCH modes are historical by nature and that the 
modes in jazz cannot be termed 'church modes'. If this usage exists (I 
am not knowledgeable enough in jazz theory), it should be changed! The 
jazz modes considered here are DIATONIC modes, i.e. all based on the 
diatonic scale and differing from each other by the reference tone. 
There are seven diatonic modes (as there are seven notes in the diatonic 
scale) and eight church modes (making use of only four reference tones).

Church modes traditionally are identified by their final (which is their 
reference tone) and its position within the overall range. But they also 
are based on a limited number of melodic formulas, probably originating 
in the formulas of psalm tones. This is highly characteristic of an oral 
tradition, where one rearranges known formulas in various combinations. 
One may argue that the formulas have a pentatonic origin – the 
background scale, in the conventions of traditional notation, being D F 
G A C or its permutations. Church modes cannot be reduced to mere 
scales: they also are sets of formulas.

Jazz modes probably are much more difficult to define because they 
originate in harmonic colours. For instance, playing the chord of II as 
a major chord in major may result in an apparent Lydian mode; playing 
the chord of V as minor may result in a Mixolydian mode; etc. The number 
of combinations is endless, contrarily to the situation in the case of 
church modes, especially if one does not feel constrained to strictly 
keep to one single mode. Jazz 'modes' should probably better be 
described as scales (as many of the modern 'modes', e.g. Messiaen's 
'modes' of limited transposition). One may define each of the seven 
diatonic scales by the specific set of chords that they form. It would 
soon appear that the set actually is determined by the diatonic scale 
itself, forming a succession, say, of triads that may be described as

    ... M  m  m  M  M  m  dim  M  m  m M  M  m  dim  M ...

and within which the various 'modes' would again differ by the choice of 
the reference tone or chord, taken as tonic. A similar succession of 
sevenths would again produce an unique result (I mean, one is which no 
two different reference tones would result in the same arrangement): 
this indicates the remarkable dissymetry of the diatonic scale. 
Different modes of the same tonic result from transpositions of the 
background diatonic scale, while different tonics within the same 
diatonic scale result in 'modes' sharing the same notes.

A nice topic to end the summer...

Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 22/08/2013 21:09, Guerin, William Brian a écrit :
> 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:
> http://archive.org/details/TheLiberUsualis1961
> 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!)
> Cheers,
> Bill
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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>
>     www.lukeschwartz.com <http://www.lukeschwartz.com/>
>     -- 
>     Luke P. Schwartz, Composer/Guitarist
>     Music Faculty - Kaufman Center - New York, NY
>     LSchwartzMusic at gmail.com <mailto:LSchwartzMusic at gmail.com>
>     www.lukeschwartz.com <http://www.lukeschwartz.com/>
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