Keys and Modes

Keys and Modes

I don’t wish to start a debate thread, but here goes. As a novice melody player, I find that knowing the key or mode of a tune doesn’t seem to help me much in understanding the music or learning a tune. My brain just identifies if a tune if jolly, darkish, etc. I’ve played music in one form or another off and on since I was in my teens, and I’ve never had a firm understanding of modes, but enough basic music theory to get by I suppose.

I see people talk of keys and modes here from time to time, D mixolydian, A dorian, etc. Is it helpful to playing this music? Is it something that is more important to backers than melody players? Is it just a personal thing? I’ve even seen comments here before that knowing modes is completely unnecessary in this music. That seems true to me so far in my limited experience, but I understand there is no one way to understanding music in general or this music in particular. I’m just kind of curious how imporant knowing these things are and am curious for all the different input. I’m certain it will vary.

I really don’t want this to turn into a debate thread that devolves into two people posting back and forth about how the other doesn’t know anything about this music, but there’s nothing I can do to control that. Just do your best to avoid that, please.

Re: Keys and Modes

Well.. the obvious thing to advise is to do a bit of searching in previous discussions as it’s all been gone through before (and you’ve plenty of time on your hands now, in theory at any rate!). I asked a similar question a few years ago and these were the replies, which may be of help.

https://thesession.org/discussions/8117/comments

Posted .

Re: Keys and Modes

And from that thread, I think this was the most useful from GaryMartin:

To give another slant on BegF’s good explanation, the note in a key/mode description (i.e. the E in Edor) always represents the home note (assuming it’s possible to identify it). If you think of the sharps in the major mode for that key, say Emaj four sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#), removing them one at a time in reverse order according to the circle of fifths gives:
Emaj F#, C#, G#, D#
Emix F#, C#, G#
Edor F#, C#
Emin F#
If you run out of sharps to remove, add flats. For example, the G modes are:
Gmaj F#
Gmix none
Gdor Bb
Gmin Bb, Eb

Posted .

Re: Keys and Modes

Hey Jimmy,

“Is it helpful…?” No.

“Is it something more important to backers…” No. I’m a lucky guy. I play in sessions and a band with a great friend who’s been accompanying tunes (Celtic, American or otherwise) for over 25 years. He doesn’t know his Nickelodeon from his Aerolian, and it doesn’t matter. You can throw anything at this man and he will suss it out and back you up post haste. The only mode he knows is the a la that comes with pie.

If you enjoy theory and talking like an nuclear engineer about music, then good on ya and have fun. Ain’t gonna hurt anybody and it ain’t gonna help you play music. Listening and practicing will though.

Re: Keys and Modes

Thanks for The Dead Recknoning Approach SWFL Fiddler. ;)
end of discussion. However, discussions about keys & modes will never die . . . At this moment if I wanted to introduce someone to the concept of keys & modes I would probably begin on coyotebanjo’s site;
Instruction: Modes and modal substitutions
(Chris Smith)
2005-09-26
http://coyotebanjo.com/music-38.html

Posted by .

Re: Keys and Modes

Yeah Random, just figured I’d chime in with the everyman approach before the university lets out.

Seriously though, if you don’t understand that Cooley’s Reel and Drowsy Maggie are from the same mode family, then maybe you should do a bit of studying, or just keep playing lots of tunes and the little groups will become apparent. These things are fairly common sense. The Kesh and Saddle The Pony, etc.

I have never seen a discussion of modes at a session. If you have, may I humbly suggest more tune playing and jokes in your session?

I have seen backers tell each other that a tune is in Em, Am, Bm, D or G, which it isn’t, of course, but they are referring to the dominant chord which they are going to whale on during the tune, which stems from the mode.

That’s enough for me. I’ll check back in later to see how the musical algebra is going. (Zzzz…)

Re: Keys and Modes

I think a basic understanding of musical theory is essential if you want to play music properly and with authority. Knowing about harmony and rhythm helps you relate one thing to another. Otherwise playing your tunes is just like an elaborate party piece. If you play an instrument which only sounds one note at a time you are never going to grasp how the whole thing goes together. Go out and, preferably, buy a keyboard. Then one can see all the notes and patterns perfectly laid out before you. And you’ll see how notes form chords and melodies and how they are interrelated. Fretted instruments are not good for showing this on account of many of the same notes being available in different places (string/ fret). The keyboard has a graphic immediacy that the fretboard does not have.

Re: Keys and Modes

From “SWFL Fiddler”:

<“Is it helpful…?” No.>


I don’t agree. It’s very helpful. Not mandatory, but very useful.

Re: Keys and Modes

Your first sentence is a pretty bold statement Yhaalhouse. There are plenty of exceptional players who have no real understanding of music theory. I think it’s a personal preference, or an indication of a particular inclination in a person’s mind. This music is based around melodies, not chords, so it’s entirely possible to have nothing more than an intimate awareness of the nature of those melodies to be able to play well, improvise, and understand the music fully. A musician who has 1000+ tunes and no music theory will have a much better understanding of this music than somebody with a degree in western art music or jazz and no experience of playing traditional Irish music. 1000+ tunes will of course confer an intuitive understanding that is essentially an understanding of music theory, but I think the conscious awareness of the ancient greek theories that the OP brought up is simply unnecessary to play this music well.

Which I suppose is a pretty long-winded way of agreeing with SWFL…

Re: Keys and Modes

Yes [imo]it is athing that is more helpful to backing players rather than melody players.
we have to accept that some people have more musicality than others,there are going to be some people,that will have more musicality than others and will just get it right naturally however for those that are struggling,getting some musical knowledge can help in identifying the appropriate chords,or if they are a melody playerthe right double stops,or the right basses[if they are an accordion player].
I hear quite a few bc accordion players,who are very competent in their right hand,but will merrily play major chords when the tune is in the dorian mode,their ear obviously has become accustomed to the bizarre harmony[to them it must sound right]but to everyone else it sounds catastrophic
this variety of accordion player would defintely bebefit form some knowledge of modes,because although their right hand is good they clearly dont hear harmony or disharmony

Posted .

Re: Keys and Modes

above should read,benefit from some knowledge of modes and their related chordal harmony

Posted .

Re: Keys and Modes

Whenever I ponder theory and this music, I always think of the little old man from Galway who winters near us here in Florida and often comes to visit our session and play tunes with us.

“Hey Mico, what mode is this tune?”

“What the [bleep] are ye on about? It’s a jig. Play the damn tune, boyo.”

Re: Keys and Modes

SWFL fiddler,are yousaying that its ok to be ignorant[unknowing because]a particular traditional fiddler can play well without knowing what mode the tunes are in ?
lets take the poor old blarney pilgrim,this is atune that i regularly hear guitarists play the wrong chords to,assuming that because it only has one f#that it is in gmajor all the way through .well it f#######aint

Posted .

Re: Keys and Modes

I definitely think it’s more important for the backers, and there’s some waccy backers about, folks !
On the other hand, SWFL fiddlers’ friend knows it all, by ear, and so a discussion of this subject is pointless to him. He’s a lucky man, and his friends are lucky to have him.
And on the third hand I don’t believe showing it all to someone on a keyboard would help at all - but then I’m prejudiced against keyboards, being mainly a fretted instrument player myself. IMNSHO a keyboard is full of wrong notes. I prefer an Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer, which only has the right notes.

Re: Keys and Modes

The use of music theory to describe music is sort of like algebraic symbols to describe math. We use symbols to describe the ineffability of that which cannot be named.
As a kid I memorized my times tables by rote. I didn’t know WHY 3x3 was 9, it just was. Same same with music theory. I don’t know WHY a melody goes where it goes, it just does. And to get a mental handle on it, we slap a name on it and call that particular path the melody took “mixolydian”, or “dorian” or whatever. Maybe if you took the same approach, and memorized the modes by rote, not caring the WHY of it, but just accepting the fact that it WAS, you could spend your time playing more tunes and not worry about WHY a melody went where it did. At least it works for me…

Re: Keys and Modes

Jimmy, apparently it’s impossible to answer your question without a debate forming. I just knew I’d have the ‘wrong’ opinion. 😛

Folks, I’m just reporting. If you and your mates consciously think about and discuss modes at your sessions then great. To each their own.

anon, I’m saying that most people don’t think about modes, they play tunes.

Too much waccy backy in the world Pete, true that, but it doesn’t take a musicology degree for a backer to get it right. Just ears and hands. D, G, Em, Am and sometimes Bm. Every tune we play is going to have one of those as the ‘main’ chord. Learn to recognize them. This is your prime directive. If modes and big words help, use them.

Well, D, G, Em, Am and sometimes Bm unless you’re a fiddler, banjo or box player and you feel like ticking off the pipers, fluters and whistlers with stuff in weird keys. Careful though, those metal whistles have sharp edges. I speak from experience.

Re: Keys and Modes

IMO, Knowing music theory is helpful but not necessary in playing the music. There are some great players that play intuitively and don’t know anything about keys and modes.

All music theory does is give names to things that are happening in the music. I find that knowing the key/mode of a tune helps me to choose appropriate chords that fit the tune.

Re: Keys and Modes

Look, I have a tendency to start threads that lead to debates. I already know there are going to be differing opinions on music theory at a site like this. What I was mainly after was those differing opinions. For me, the music theory has limited use, but what I wonder from time to time is if bettering my knowledge on these things is going to help me at all, or rather, is it worth my time or effort? I’m inclined to think it likely isn’t. I know I can’t do much to dissuade the semantix from getting into debates, but that doesn’t make the thread unuseful.

Re: Keys and Modes

In the words of a well known fiddle player “Just play the f***ing turne”

Re: Keys and Modes

Modes are about as useful as t i t s on a bull….

Re: Keys and Modes

Well, the only mode I like for certain is apple pie a la mode.

Rim shot, please.

Re: Keys and Modes

“I wonder from time to time is if bettering my knowledge on these things is going to help me at all, or rather, is it worth my time or effort?” - Jimmy B

I wondered the same thing once so I set about to learn a little bit about them. What I got out of it was being able to understand these kinds of discussions a little bit better.

Re: Keys and Modes

Hey Jimmy, howza bout I kill two birds with one stone. I’ll answer your question and ***argue with myself.*** 🙂

Knowledge of modes can lead to a deeper understanding of how the melodies of this music are structured.

Ah, yes, well Missy yer a blithering eejit. Understanding the “structure” doesn’t matter--this isn’t engineering. If you know the tune, play the effing tune.

Understanding modes isn’t difficult and will make you a more well-rounded musician.

More of yer gibberish. I can see why yer heart is lonely. Quit harping on about nonsense and maybe people could bear to be around you for more than a banker’s minute. You don’t have to be well-rounded to play this music. Just play the effing tunes.

Modes are one tool for sussing out interesting variations, whether you play melody or accompaniment.

***You’re*** the bloody tool here, Lonelyhearts! Preaching your precious music theory. G’wan and leave us to our simple tunes. All you need for variations is a mind full of the music. They just come bubbling out then.

(so it goes)

Posted .

Re: Keys and Modes

Jimmy B writes: “I don’t wish to start a debate thread, but here goes.”

~

I remember having lively debates about when a piece of music modulated to a new key etc. when I was studying music theory in college… the debate comes with the territory. I wondered one day about why it was all so controversial, and then it dawned on me… it’s just a theory… hence the name of the course. Music theory and knowledge of modes etc. seems to matter little to many or even most of the great players I have met, but it is handy to have a grasp of even though it’s not a requirement to play the music. In this forum I’ve seen everything from people swearing to it as some sort of gospel to outright denial that it exists. But regardless of the forum, any discussion of music theory is usually guaranteed to result in a debate.

Re: Keys and Modes

I play diatonic harmonicas nearly all the time. I was playing G and D harps in several different modes each before I ever knew what a mode was. Harmonica players often talk about positions, which in certain circumstances can approximate to modes, but I was playing in first, second, third, fourth and twelfth positions before I knew what a position was. Knowing a bit about modes has not helped me one jot in the matter of selecting the right harp for the job or the right position to play a tune in. The thing with music is that a little knowledge can throw a lot of light on lots of aspects of the music and this can help you to appreciate music on one more level than you can by just listening alone.

Re: Keys and Modes

Hammer + Thumb = Bloody Tool

Hope your finger feels better soon Mr. Jimmy

Re: Keys and Modes

If you happen to be interested in learning and thinking about modes or birdcalls or ferret behavior, then you may well get something useful from the study thereof. How much or how practical, I can’t say.

If you *are* interested in the concept of modes …

Instead of learning the Church Modes and then carrying that learning (and bias) into tune playing, I would recommend taking a few classic tunes and analyzing their peculiar “modes.” Look at the notes of Banish Misfortune. What’s the meaning of that C that’s sometimes natural, sometimes sharp? It’s not a violation of mixolydian mode; it’s the Banish Misfortune mode. Why does it “work”? Etc…

I have no opinion on birdcalls or ferret behavior.

Re: Keys and Modes

I’ll tell you what that sometimes-natural, sometimes-sharp C is. It’s a bloody nuisance, that’s what, when you play a diatonic instrument! Jenny’s Wedding does the same thing and that’s a cracker of a tune.

Re: Keys and Modes

Bob-

One question: how in the hell did you know I was interested in birdcalls and ferret behavior? Are you stalking me?

Re: Keys and Modes

Oh, one of my special agents heard you practicing your loon call. And, well, who *isn’t* interested in ferret behavior?

Re: Keys and Modes

I knew this thread would descend to weasel words…

Re: Keys and Modes

Do you need to know what key or mode a tune is in to play it?
Yes. Otherwise you don’t know what notes are in the tune.

Do you need to know what that mode is called?
No.

Your ear picks these things up even if you don’t know the lingo. If you don’t know the terminology, it just sounds “right” or “wrong”, even if you don’t know the ins and outs of why. Knowing the modes just lets you communicate with other musicians about it. It doesn’t help you play better. However, it’s completely useless to yell at a backer for playing wrong chords, if you can’t tell them the proper mode so they can fix the problem.

Just my 2 cents…

Re: Keys and Modes

Knowing the modes doesn’t let me communicate with other musicians about it. I mix it with several very fine musicians in these parts, yet if I start waffling on about modes their eyes glaze over in sheer incomprehension.

Re: Keys and Modes

If the backer isn’t playing the right chords, telling him the ‘proper mode’ won’t help. He’s either not listening, or he doesn’t know what he’s doing. If you said something like ‘try a D minor there’ that might fix the problem, but then you would have to know what the chords were yourself. That’s what the sharp point on the bow is for. It saves having to speak. And it’s quick.

Posted by .

Re: Keys and Modes

That’s how it is where I am. I never hear anyone ask about modes. Rarely I’ll hear someone ask what key a tune is in, with the likely response being something like, “uh…B minor…I think?”

Re: Keys and Modes

There is one unfortunate aspect of all this mode/key talk. It’s getting quite hard to talk about what, er, modes or keys tunes are “in” without wondering whether you’re using the right terminology. Meself, I stick to telling the guitar man “what key it’s in” based on the perceived tonic note and pray that there is no sessiondotorger within earshot. Pragmatism, not pedantry!

Re: Keys and Modes

I like the use of the terms, but don’t think they are really necessary. The problem is they were developed for a different sort of music and are being “applied” to ITM tunes. Sometimes they fit well, and other times they just don’t.

Re: Keys and Modes

I love this stuff, but the only time I’ve ever mentioned it at a session was to say something like “This modes business - anyone interested?” To which the reply was along the lines of “What, all that Aeolian/Ionian/Myxamatonian b*ll*cks? No. Are you?”

I haven’t felt the loss of this particular topic of conversation particularly hard.

Re: Keys and Modes

I agree with Gam- colour theory is interesting too but knowing about it won’t produce a masterpiece.

Re: Keys and Modes

I didn’t know a flippin’ thing about music theory until I started playing Irish music. And I played the French horn for seven years and sung in high school choirs for four years. I remember French horn teacher and choir directors explaining music theory in very mathematical ways, and being hopeless at math, my brain would totally shut off as soon as the choir director started sounding like my math teacher. In those days I couldn’t have told you what “G major” meant.

Then when I started playing Irish tunes, I discovered keys intuitively. I found all these tunes shared little patterns of notes and the little patterns of notes have names, like “G major.” Recognising the key of a tune helps me with variation, with identifying tunes, with learning tunes. If I’m trying to learn a new tunes and I figure out what key it’s in, that speeds up the learning process. It’s working knowledge. I couldn’t tell you *why* D major becomes D mixolydian when you flatten the C; I just know it does. Doesn’t really matter to me why. The important thing is I can differentiate the sound and feel of D mix tunes from D maj ones and of course play Cnats. But I said, I never ever have gone out of my way to figure this stuff out. It’s knowledge I just acquired on the journey.

Re: Keys and Modes

Steve, sometimes it’s simpler in a busy session just to tell the guitar man “it’s in 2 sharps” (or whatever is the case), and hope for the best.

Re: Keys and Modes

Well, I suppose you could also add “and sounds major” (or “minor” as the case may be), and hope the guy isn’t thereby terminally confused.

Re: Keys and Modes

God bless our local guitar men but I can’t help thinking that hollering “G!” or “D!” or “A!” would be far more likely to achieve the desired result than calling out the number of sharps….😀

Re: Keys and Modes

Mondrian actually did use color theory to paint his masterpieces.

Knowledge and creativity don’t have to be an either-or proposition.

Posted .

Re: Keys and Modes

First, let me correct random_humor on the concept of dead reckoning. The term is believed to come from ‘deduced’ reckoning, and involves the use of the navigational arts to deduce your position in the absence of clues such as visible landmarks, an unobstructed view of the heavens (and I suppose nowadays, the ability to access the signal from a GPS satellite). A very tricky application of advanced knowledge and techniques, and crucial to get right as you reach the end of a journey, and want to make landfall where you expected to. A better analog for playing by instinct might be ‘flying by the seat of your pants.’ Sorry to pick nits, but nautical terms are something I can address authoritatively.
Now, to stray to a subject where I don’t speak authoritatively, music. If you are a good musician, I think you can hear pretty much everything musical theory explains, but without seeing why things are the way they are. But understanding things like modes helps you understand what lies beneath the surface, what makes things tick, and that depth of knowledge can only help you as a musician, never hinder.
In one of his stories, Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes admit a total ignorance of astronomy, saying that the mind has a finite capacity, and that he wants to focus on learning things that can help his detecting abilities. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. The more we learn, about whatever subject, the better we are. And no learning is wasted.

Re: Keys and Modes

Oh, and it is funny to hear Steve Shaw talk about playing various positions on harmonica, because I only heard the term for the first time the other night. Someone who plays harmonica was in the pub, and was very interested to hear me playing Irish music on it. He asked me what brand and key harps I used, and then what position I played in. I looked at him blankly, as I am entirely self and ear taught on the harmonica, and the only answer I could think of was ‘sitting in a chair,’ and I knew that wasn’t what he was looking for. So I have something new about music theory to learn about!!!

Re: Keys and Modes

“If the backer isn’t playing the right chords, telling him the ‘proper mode’ won’t help. He’s either not listening, or he doesn’t know what he’s doing. ”

Can’t agree with that at all. I often hear guitarists playing “off by one” - G for D, or Em for Am. In those cases, it’s often useful to give them the hint. What’s happening is often that they’re hearing one note of the chord they’re playing meshing and they can’t figure out why the rest doesn’t work, so they just keep trying.
Once they get their root chord right, all of a sudden they get their bearings, and all’s well.

It’s also handy to tip someone off to key changes - “the B part goes to A!” - if they’re not catching them. If you’re still learning, you’ll make those mistakes - once you get it right once or twice, it usually makes sense from then on.

Re: Keys and Modes

> Is it helpful to playing this music?
Of course.
Is it necessary to playing this music? Of course not.

> Is it something that is more important to backers than melody players?
Certainly.
Is it something that is more essential to backers? Certainly not.

Is it possibly to play and enjoy this music while wallowing in stupidity and ignorance?
Without a doubt.

Is it nevertheless helpful to be able to talk about it intelligently when necessary?
Of course.

Posted by .

Re: Keys and Modes

Ah…. ha ha ha…. Al,

What position are you playing in?
Can’t you see man?
I’m sitting on my arse, on my arse!

What position shall we play the next tune in?

Re: Keys and Modes

Starting from your open G on the bottom play a normal major scale up two octaves to the G on the E string. Play the same G major scale pattern using the same notes as before but starting on the Low A and finishing on the A of the E string. Do the same for B C D E & F# but just using the notes and step pattern of the G major scale. Thats G major and it’s modes. Do the same in for any major scale to play the modes maybe just restricting it to a single octave to get the range.

Is it necessary to know? No, but rocket science it ain’t.

Re: Keys and Modes

There are two ways to become a player of trad music: immersion and being taught (potentially by yourself).

In the first case, it will take a fair bit of time and, you just do it, without thinking about it.

For most people, immersion is out of the question. For everyone else, you have to take “short cuts”. Ways to organise some of the things that players of trad music do, so as to learn them.
- dots to a tune
- naming ornaments
- knowing the key
- etc. etc. etc.
- consciously “listing” variations and different ways a tune can go.

Knowing the key is not going to bring you crap-all, except as a short cut to other things. For example, if you have a major tune and you want to have a bit of fun with it, you could try moving it to another mode (obviously of no use in a session) - no point in lowering the 5th - it will sound wrong, but try lowering the 3rd or the 7th for a minor/aeolian/myxolidian feel and see how that works.

Yesterday a friend of mine was learning to play a G tune and was playing with an augmented 4th (C#) instead of a Cnat. If he knew “music theory”, he would have known that such a mode is highly unusual in western european trad music and would have figured out his mistake. If he had much more experience through immersion and practice, it would never have occured to him to play the C# in such a situation - his fingers would have just found the pattern weird.

Finally, finding tunes which sound good together is a kind of weird function of their root note, their mode, the melodic structure and the first and end chords. You can say “hey this would sound good going into cooley’s or drowsy maggie or some similar tune” or you can say “hey this would sound good going into a Edor/Dmaj/pretty much hexatonic kind of tune”. Same difference.

(note that I’m not implying that you can construct sets exclusively on that knowledge, rather that it can serve as a hint to try out tunes for making sets)

Posted by .

Re: Keys and Modes

Pete:
>but then I’m prejudiced against keyboards, being mainly a >fretted instrument player myself. IMNSHO a keyboard is full of >wrong notes.

Maybe you were joking Pete, but if you weren’t then I can’t see at all what you are getting at here. A fretted instrument will have all the same wrong notes as a keyboard (unless you stick to the App dulc).

It would be possible to dislike both keyboards and freeted instruments for the reason you give. And also possible to just dislike keyboards as a matter of personal taste. But it doesn’t make sense to make your crtiicism of keyboards when speaking as a “fretted instrument player <yourself>”.

Unless of course you were making a joke.

- Chris

Re: Keys and Modes

A session I attend regularly is often populated with accompanists who struggle with the whole chord thing. It gets thrown into complete disarray when the banjo player who hosts the proceedings attempts to yell out helpful keys with a thick Dublin accent, D sounds like G, E minor sounds like A minor, you get the picture.

Re: Keys and Modes

Keys called out with a thick Dublin accent is infinitely better than keys desperately called out by a northerner with a gob full of harmonica metal, I assure you…

Re: Keys and Modes

Try listening to keys called out in a Scottish accent. So many times I have joined in on a tune playing in the wrong key (this is where it would be nice if I knew nothing about keys) because I thought someone yelled “E minor” to the guitarist when in fact they were yelling “A minor.” Or vice versa.

Re: Keys and Modes

Or a Georgie accent where they use all the vowels at once!

Re: Keys and Modes

Some sessioneers in Edinburgh developed a system where they would tell words like “a*se,” “dick,” and my favourite, “gonads,” instead of keys, thereby solving the problem.

Re: Keys and Modes

*yell… even

Re: Keys and Modes

I like that, much funnier than the military alphabet: Echo Mike! DELTA!

Remember these guys?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bexIdm0awwo


We pulled that video up on someone’s iPhone the other night. Our veteran backer was helping out a novice, hollering chords over to him. We all stopped and watched the video, laughing hysterically.

Modes, shmodes. All you need is a hat, some index cards, a marker and a turkey baster.

Re: Keys and Modes

Well, three basters, or one baster for each chord, I guess.

See, now I need the analytical types to help build it. Takes all kinds!

Re: Keys and Modes

What’s a “Georgie accent”?

Re: Keys and Modes

Geordie that should be. Georgie is almost a Heart of Midlothian accent.

Re: Keys and Modes

Someone from Newcastle for all you who still don’t know what bogman is on about. 🙂

Re: Keys and Modes

Ah. Geordie.

Now that we’ve mentioned it, is this a signal to tell all our pathetic Geordie jokes? On second thoughts, I’ve got walk to do.

Re: Keys and Modes

Walk?

Re: Keys and Modes

And it wasn’t a joke.

Re: Keys and Modes

That’s more of an Ashington accent. As in the Ashington man who said to the doctor after an accident “Work, I can’t walk yet”.

Re: Keys and Modes

I have been looking through the old, old discussions hoping to suss out when the clichés began to appear. There were a few discussions concerning chords, modes, theory, & rhythm . . . etc. Some of it interesting, though nothing caught my attention as adding much to this thread which hasn’t been said above. Having said that, here is one which just barely touches on tune structure. Ironically, it describes very accurately what I have been doing lately when learning new tunes, but also helping make the ones I already play more crisp.
Hope you read through it Jimmy. Though, I’ll admit, it is a sharp tangent away from your original question;
“Tune-derived fiddle drills”
May 2nd 2002 by Miss Lonelyhearts
https://thesession.org/discussions/519

Posted by .

Allow me to reword that

Coincidentally, the way *tune-derived drills* are described (in the old thread) is very much like what I am currently doing while practicing/learning tunes.

Posted by .

Re: Keys and Modes

No Llig on that thread Random. You’d know what he’d say about drills, exercises, scales and the like…

“Just play tunes. That’s all the drilling you need.”

Not that one is right or the other is wrong. Do whatever works!

Miss L and Llig are like the little cartoon angel and devil there on yer shoulders.

Re: Keys and Modes

more like a little cartoon sasquatch and little cartoon skunk ape!

Re: Keys and Modes

Minijackpot has it, bogman. In fact, that’s the exact joke I was thinking of when I posted my “joke”.

Re: Keys and Modes

We divent shoot chords oot, we use wor fingaz. (Silly cuddy accent)

1 finger up G
3 fingers down Eb

My favorite key is D

Re: Keys and Modes

Do they have Big Foot in Scotland? Apparently so!

Amazing old thread Random. I love how it hangs, unresolved, much like the suggestion of modes themselves, the thread seems to say!

Re: Keys and Modes

Yeah, SWFL. He keeps coming into our sessions and making an a*se of playing the bodhran. What’s worse is he always shows up with his buddy Sasquatch who won’t lay off the bloody spoons.

Re: Keys and Modes

I got two long haired cats making a fur ball out of my house, I can’t imagine your local after those two show up. Publican cleaning up with a leaf blower. Knitting sweaters with the leftovers. Health inspector screaming about hair balls in pints. Whew.

Re: Keys and Modes

Do you knit sweaters out of your cats?

Re: Keys and Modes

Well, that was before the Skunk Ape fur market took off, destroying the demand for long haired cat fur sweaters.

Re: Keys and Modes

Geordie vowels explained:

“Divven’t be daft, ye’re nivvor gan ti scur wi’ Cheryl Curl”

(Key vowels rhyme with ‘fur’)

“Ah work as a jornalist on the Jornal”

(Key vowels rhyme with ‘pork’)

“When Ah waalk in the park after dark Ah see aall sorts ganning on”

(Key vowels rhyme with ‘aaargh!’)

My knowledge of Geordie is not fine-tuned, but I think the above are passing close to the reality. They are enough to indicate that Geordie is more or less diametrically opposite to standard English. This has a lot to do with the fact it descends from Anglo-Saxon with fewer subsequent modifications than standard and various other forms of English.

Re: Keys and Modes

You can tell you’re not a Geordie, Nicholas!

Re: Keys and Modes

“This has a lot to do with the fact it descends from Anglo-Saxon with fewer subsequent modifications than standard and various other forms of English. ”
With a substantial Scandinavian influence too.

Re: Keys and Modes

The Angles were Scandinavian

Re: Keys and Modes

But the Angles were from Denmark. There is more influence from further north, I understand, in Geordie. As there would be in Scotland/Shetland/Orkney I presume.

Re: Keys and Modes

Nah. You’re right about Shetland, but not about Geordie. Geordie is predominantly Anglian and the more northern (Viking) influence was actually stronger further south in Yorkshire, where they settled and gained a foothold. Most of that wacky vocab and pronunciation you associate with Geordie are old Anglo-Saxon, not Norse. Anyway, I wonder what keys and modes the Vikings were using at the time, ahem… 🙂

Re: Keys and Modes

They were singing On Ilkley Moor Bar T‘ ’At, of course!

I suppose that by 900 AD or so the Danes in England, and also Denmark, were familiar with Church modes, having Christianised; though I don’t know how standardised these then were.

Re: Keys and Modes

To the OP, a direct answer; No you do not need to know anything about chords keys and modes. But it might come in handy .

Keys and modes are of essential practical value to harmonic backers and bass players and even then its the practical understanding that counts; These chords work with this tune but not that tune etc.Theory can help to explain why these chords sound right, or wrong, but its the ears that count.

It is not even necessary to know the names of the notes of your instrument. What matters is how they sound in relation to the other notes you play and others play. I dont think this knowledge can do any harm though so why not learn all you can?