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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Modal Music - Folks have been thinking about this stuff for a long time


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/57331

RichJ - Posted - 11/18/2022:  08:34:48


Modes in the 16th and 17th Centuries - one thing that caught my attention was mention of how Gregorian Chant, which utilizes harmony of the human voice,  got all this started.  Interesting stuff.



youtube.com/watch?v=lyq48eybjZw



 

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/18/2022:  09:38:31


Bookmarked....This guy knows what he is talking about imo.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 11/19/2022:  10:34:00


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

Modes in the 16th and 17th Centuries - one thing that caught my attention was mention of how Gregorian Chant, which utilizes harmony of the human voice,  got all this started.  Interesting stuff.



youtube.com/watch?v=lyq48eybjZw



 






I enjoyed the video and look forward to listening to some of his other content. I do want to point out, however, that modes trace back to ancient Greece, not just the Middle Ages. It is true that the modes as we use them were established in the latter time, but what adds to the confusion of it all is the fact that the medieval scholars were themselves trying to figure out the modes. We don't have any written music to use to understand the Greek modes, only written descriptions of them. Socrates touches on the use of various modes in Plato's Republic, but that only gives us some general information about their character, not their actual construction. There seems to be a lot of reason to believe that the medieval modes did not correctly interpret the Greeks,' but we just don't have the evidence to really know. 

 



I was especially glad to hear the presenter hint at the Doctrine of the Affections when talking about the characters of the modes. Once the two main modes were chosen for Western music, the choice of key came to replace thr choice of mode for emphasizing certain emotions in a composition. Plato makes it clear that he believes certain modes encourage a strong character among men, while others seem to lead to weakness and laziness. It was so important to him that he urged certain modes to be forbidden in the music of the republic. In his Confessions, St. Augustine talks about his fear that music in the sacred setting is too distracting because it stirs his emotions and soul in a way that might lead to temptations. Bach was a firm believer in the emotional significance of keys, and I think that is a part of the reason for his place in history as the greatest of all composers, along with a consummate knowledge of counterpoint and how to stretch the rules in just the right ways.



I think it is also important to keep in mind that our way of attaching modes to scales is not the way of thinking used when they were established. It's easy to explain a mode by starting on the right key of a piano and just playing the white keys to get the modal scale, but that wouldn't have been the way it was understood back before the existence of the harpsichord. We shouldn't attach a particular key to a mode, even if one is more commonly used; the mode really consists of the relationships of the intervals. 


Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 11/19/2022 10:45:30

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/19/2022:  12:06:02


I think the modes are just "There", i just use em in whichever way i want to. i think of them totally differently if i am playing jazz, than if i where playing Irish or some other folk idiom.



In Jazz i just think of them as extended chords. Whereas in folky modal stuff i think of them against a drone, and some times chop them down to pentatonics or triads or even Dyads.  And as illustrated in the video there are, and where, various other ways to think of them. to achieve the desired effects.



Its good to hear about how others thought of them in the past. So you can use them that way if you want to. Rules are there to be adhered to or broken at the players discretion imo.



But if you want to play ancient Greek music it is obvious that you need to study the way the ancient Greeks thought about them. Which is apparently totally different. As there weren't as many of em, and according to some scholars they thought of them primarily as descending rather than ascending ?

RichJ - Posted - 11/20/2022:  02:28:19


Glad to see a few other people on FHO enjoyed it. A good part of that vid went over my heard, but I was especially fascinated by the stuff about 5th and 4th scales getting arranged in different patterns to produce all the modal scales we know today. Also, and even though no one seems to understand why, how those various modes result in music with such varied emotional response. Thanks to Rich M for bringing up the factoid about St. Augustin. Interesting to learn, even in the 4th century, how some folks were calling certain kinds of music sinful,

RinconMtnErnie - Posted - 11/20/2022:  19:01:12


The video was interesting, thanks for sharing.



I like to play Gregorian chants, mostly from Chants of the Church. Mostly I play from the modern notation version, but I'm thinking of switching to Gregorian notation, in part for the fun of it but also because I'm not always playing them using the standard tonic (finalis/key).



For some reason, on fiddle I only keep track of modes on A tunes for deciding if I want to play cross-tuned or standard.



 

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 11/21/2022:  00:36:33


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

Glad to see a few other people on FHO enjoyed it. A good part of that vid went over my heard, but I was especially fascinated by the stuff about 5th and 4th scales getting arranged in different patterns to produce all the modal scales we know today. Also, and even though no one seems to understand why, how those various modes result in music with such varied emotional response. Thanks to Rich M for bringing up the factoid about St. Augustin. Interesting to learn, even in the 4th century, how some folks were calling certain kinds of music sinful,






You might really enjoy reading Viktor Zuckerkandl's The Sense of Music. In it he delves deeply into the reasoning for music's effect on us as musical animals. Zuckerkand wrote the book in such a way to make it easy to read for any reader regardless of their level of musical experience. As a musician, you have a bit of an advantage for comprehension, but the book poses some philosophical ideas that would be interesting to any musician. Zuckerkandl was a tutor at my college long before my time there, but his influence on the school is still felt, and the book I'm recommending is a vital part of the Sophomore music tutorial. I have witnessed many people who insisted that they had no musical inclination or understanding become very adept at discussing any piece of music through reading this book.



Another story about the idea of music as stirring the soul: during the Council of Trent in 1562-1563, the subject of music in the liturgical setting was discussed. Just as Augustine was concerned about the monophonic chant he heard in church, the Church was concerned about the use of polyhphonic music. To convince the Cardinal Carlo Borromeo of its validity, Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcella was performed. Upon hearing it, Borromeo (and the council) were so moved that they decided such music was too beautiful NOT to be allowed. If you've ever heard the work live, or even better, if you've performed as part of it, you'll see why Palestrina saved polyphony!

RichJ - Posted - 11/21/2022:  06:11:49


Thanks for your thoughtful commentary on my post Rich. Spending close to 50 years of my life in the sciences music has always been something I mostly feel rather than think about analytically. All this changed after retirement and I started fooling around with a violin. I guess the thing that amazes me most about this simple instrument is how it also can evoke those same powerful feelings mentioned in the video by simply producing two simultaneous tones at the same. Can't wait to get my hands on that Zuckerkandl book.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/21/2022:  10:41:24


Don't give up on science, Audio waveforms are the same as any other waveforms.



Dissonance and Resonance = Tension and Release.



Degrees of dissonance are subjective. But Resonance is Finite.

RichJ - Posted - 11/21/2022:  11:16:52


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

Don't give up on science, Audio waveforms are the same as any other waveforms.



Dissonance and Resonance = Tension and Release.



Degrees of dissonance are subjective. But Resonance is Finite.






No chance of me giving up on science Pete, just never looked at music from a scientific perspective during most of my life. I now realized there sure is lots of physics and chemistry too that goes into the basic stuff involved with the sound we call music. String vibration, harmonics, density of wood, metal what ever used in a musical instrument.   But then, to tell the truth, I really don't care. At this point in life I just want to enjoy and have fun playing music rather than dissect it.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/21/2022:  14:55:19


A really great book from science/physics/maths view is Helmholtz "Sensation of Tone"; I still use it as reference guide. It's a great departure from the some of the popular romantic, emotional and spiritual notions about music (like in that video). Goes into quite good detail of how sound waves interact, and how intonational systems are developed. Misses some aspects, but then it was 1800s, so nto bad for time. 



Sciences, especially physics, are part what got me started, around Jr. High... fascinated with sound, how sound works; doing all sorts of hands on experiments, including making instruments. Got me into understanding different intonation systems, microtonal, harmonic and modal relationships. How it has and is used in all sorts of different music throughout the world in many differing and surprising similar ways.



 


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 11/21/2022 14:58:24

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/21/2022:  15:19:58


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

Don't give up on science, Audio waveforms are the same as any other waveforms.



Dissonance and Resonance = Tension and Release.



Degrees of dissonance are subjective. But Resonance is Finite.






Maybe not finite. Another way to look at it is as above mentioned Helmholtz... he points to there are degrees of strength/stability (not dissonance/consonance)...it's a sliding scale. Generally follows low ratio. Octave 2/1, Fifth 3/2... form much stronger node relation, than say sixth 8/5, to then seventh 16/15; even less when using tempered ratios. As get to higher ratios, the nodes become less stable. (further complexity as start combining multiple notes in chord). Has to do with constructive and destructive interference of different waves, and node points. You can visually see it demonstrated with something like Chladni plates... or oscilliscopes. 

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 11/29/2022:  18:35:11


Back several years ago I had the opportunity to go to grad school with free tuition I got from working on campus...well anyway, they had a new program where you could design your own field of study, utilizing the combination of some profs who would guide you through with whatever areas of expertise they could offer.



So I took the intro class...called something like Researching and Writing on the Graduate Level...something like that...lol...I can't remember the exact title. Anyway, I wanted to design a study in folk music in the U.S....like OT music, etc. I did a huge study on this development of scales, modes, instruments that handle these things in various ways...like dulcimer, fretless, fixed tunings, how the modes came into being with the ancient Greeks, namely Pythagoras, and how the early church used the modes for perfect intervals in chants...how Bach changed it all with his well tempered clavier, at least changed the way the intervals are spaced in the scales so that fixed instruments can change keys easily without wolf fifths or sour notes...etc., etc., etc. I mean, I get obsessive about music sometimes and I really, really studied this and came up with a huge research paper and presentation for the class...with audio and everything. Then they refused me to design a music study. Another person in our class wanted to do a music study, which she researched as songs mentioned in various novels. They let her do it...not me. I quit...dropped out...I was pretty upset. I thought my research was thorough and encompassed centuries of development in music and instruments and how it all ended up in our folk music, etc. I was so depressed and upset...then when that other lady did her thesis defending thing, they had the gall to invite me...she read from her silly paper, and the profs just stopped to question why she had a comma instead of a semicolon on page 4, etc. I'm like...wow...I am so insulted...this was so lame...her topic and her thesis were so lame...mine had been so thorough...and I would have just eaten up the opportunity to have been challenged at a defense of my thesis by these profs. Then I had to bind her thesis back at my library job. LOL...humiliation. Anyway...I tried and I failed. She now has her master's degree...ugh. Yeah I guess it made me feel a little bit green.  I did really enjoy the research, but it never went anywhere like I'd wanted.


Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 11/29/2022 18:38:55

RinconMtnErnie - Posted - 11/29/2022:  19:27:17


quote:

Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

Back several years ago I had the opportunity to go to grad school with free tuition I got from working on campus...well anyway, they had a new program where you could design your own field of study, utilizing the combination of some profs who would guide you through with whatever areas of expertise they could offer.



So I took the intro class...called something like Researching and Writing on the Graduate Level...something like that...lol...I can't remember the exact title. Anyway, I wanted to design a study in folk music in the U.S....like OT music, etc. I did a huge study on this development of scales, modes, instruments that handle these things in various ways...like dulcimer, fretless, fixed tunings, how the modes came into being with the ancient Greeks, namely Pythagoras, and how the early church used the modes for perfect intervals in chants...how Bach changed it all with his well tempered clavier, at least changed the way the intervals are spaced in the scales so that fixed instruments can change keys easily without wolf fifths or sour notes...etc., etc., etc. I mean, I get obsessive about music sometimes and I really, really studied this and came up with a huge research paper and presentation for the class...with audio and everything. Then they refused me to design a music study. Another person in our class wanted to do a music study, which she researched as songs mentioned in various novels. They let her do it...not me. I quit...dropped out...I was pretty upset. I thought my research was thorough and encompassed centuries of development in music and instruments and how it all ended up in our folk music, etc. I was so depressed and upset...then when that other lady did her thesis defending thing, they had the gall to invite me...she read from her silly paper, and the profs just stopped to question why she had a comma instead of a semicolon on page 4, etc. I'm like...wow...I am so insulted...this was so lame...her topic and her thesis were so lame...mine had been so thorough...and I would have just eaten up the opportunity to have been challenged at a defense of my thesis by these profs. Then I had to bind her thesis back at my library job. LOL...humiliation. Anyway...I tried and I failed. She now has her master's degree...ugh. Yeah I guess it made me feel a little bit green.  I did really enjoy the research, but it never went anywhere like I'd wanted.






Ouch, that hurts! But as a former academic, I'm not surprised. I had a much less traumatic experience in an undergraduate class on "The Greeks". In theory the final paper could be on anything related to ancient Greeks, so I wrote a paper on Greek architecture. But then when it was done I was told that wouldn't do so I had to start all over again on some other topic. Nowhere near the same consequences, though. Kudos for what you did!

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 11/30/2022:  04:16:56


Frustrating, isn't it?

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