Modes

Modes

This is a little academic, but can you guys help me figure out how to correctly identify modes?

Take the simple polka ‘Britches Full of Stitches.’ On this site, ceolachan posted a version that looks like this:

K: A Major
|: E/F/ |
A>B cA | BA cA | A>B c/B/A | FA EF |
AA/B/ cA | BA ce | | A>B AF | FE E :|
c |
ee/f/ ec | BA Bc | e>f ec | BA F2 |
e>f ec | BA Bc | AA/B/ c/B/A |FA E>c |
ef ec | B>^A Bc | a>f e/f/e/c/ | BA FA |
e2 ec | BA B2 | AA/B/ A/G/F | FE E |

Now, for me, I would say that this is in the key of D (F#s and C#s), but it ends on an E, and sort of resolves there too, so I might think that it’s in E dorian. So why is it listed as being in A major?

Where am I going wrong, and is this simplification I’m making a generally useful method?

Further, if you’re playing melody, and you’ve learned the tune, I can’t really figure out why you’d care what mode you’re in, as long as you’re in the right key (in my case, you’ve picked up the right whistle or flute). Any thoughts?

Re: Modes

The answers you seek (and more argumentation than a soul can survive) are found by using the search function under "Discussions." Just type in "modes" and you’ll get an earful.

Or be happy that you really only need to know one answer: that if you’re playing melody, you don’t need to know anything about modes to play this music well. Life is good. 🙂

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love that answer…and I’ll check the boards.

thanks.

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ceolachan’s version has G#s. ABC code simply reads the information field ~
K:A Major
& generates a score with 3 sharps.
The case for mode(s) I will leave to someone else; except to rule out Dorian

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I don’t know much about modes either but in the case of Britches Full of Stitches it seems like a straightforward major key with the odd minor thrown in - eg played in G, it would have a "G" chord backing changing to Em for the "E" in Bar 4. Is it really modal?

Confusing with science ~ 😎

Tunes will often come to an ‘end’ that isn’t quite an ‘end’, meaning not the ‘tonic’ and quite often the ‘dominant’. So, what is the ‘tonic’ here, it’s A, and a fifth up from that is E, the ‘dominant’, and not called that by accident… If you really want to find out more:

scale degrees ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Scale_degrees
tonic (I) ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonic_(music)
dominant (V) ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominant_(music)

I’m with Will, let’s go out for a pint… 😉

Re: Modes

K: A Major
|: A>B cA | BA cA | A>B cA | BA F2 |
A>B cA | BA ce | A>B AF | FE E2 :|
e>f ec | BA Bc | e>f ec | BA F2 |
e>f ec | BA Bc | A>B AF |FE E2 |
e>f ec | B>^A Bc | a>f ec | BA F2 |
e2 ec | B>^A Bc | A>B cA | FA E2 |]

If taking it to the tonic ~ one possible ending ~ FA EF || A2 a2 |]

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It’s in A major. There’s no hint of it being in any other key. For all that, it *is* a modal tune, but it’s way too involved to go into why.

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Good grief, ceol, you posted two - much more helpful than mine - in the time it took me to post one.

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You’re coming too aren’t you Ben? Grab your coat, it’s cold out… Drinks are on ‘a sheamuis’…

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Yeah … what the hell … I was going to stop in, but y’re right - it’s cold … it’s cold in here, to be honest. Nicer in the pub … 🙂

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Re: Modes

There are really only four modes that matter an awful lot, and even they don’t even matter that much. Doh, a deer, a female deer is in Ionian mode. Anything with a flattened seventh is probably in Mixolydian mode, eg Red-haired Boy and a load of Scottish bagpipe tunes and quite a few polkas. Anything that sounds minor-ish is either Dorian mode (probably) or Aeolian mode (possibly). If it ends on the note above the tonic (re) it’s Dorian and if it ends two notes below (lah - OK, one and a half, wise guys) it’s Aeolian. Never, ever get into conversations about tunes with notes missing because the experts will just befuddle you with talk of gapped modes and they are just crazy people. Here endeth lesson one. Christ, this Talisker’s good…

Re: Modes

Just a quick aside, ceolachan’s version has no Gs at all, sharp or flat or natural neither. But it’s in A, sure enough, and G naturals in the harmony would sound weird, so stick with E major as your sit chord at the end.
Okay, to the pub.

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ceolachan is being versatile.
This latest A Major version has no Gs.
I play a version without (Gs or G#)
But the one who bought the 1st (a sheamuis) round posted ceolachans original {Tunes} "comment".where he snuck in a G#. He even posted yet another ‘Breeches Full of Stitches’ in G Major. Oh yes, he gives us an F#.
I suspect there are even more variants. ceolachan ~ next round, eh?
;)

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Steve, totally spot on. All you need to know about modes in 133 words.

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Hey, Steve, pass that stuff around!

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Yep, a glass of Talisker really *is* all you need to deal with modes in this music. Works for me. 🙂

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well there goes my theory of just assuming the last note of the tune is the "key" to figuring out mode…

wonder how often it’s right, though.

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You might like to look at the modes tutorial on my site:

http://www.campin.me.uk

It’s directed at Scottish music and has no Irish tune examples, but the principles fit most of the traditional music of Western Europe. Goes MUCH further than any other resource on the web that I know of.

The easiest way to see what mode "Britches" is in: look at what chord the notes fit. Starts with notes from an A chord and returns to that all the way through. It’s common for tunes to finish on the dominant like this.

Do you really play it that way? In Scottish music we have the term "bum note", is that a concept known to ITM as well?