Weird topics today- let me add one

Weird topics today- let me add one

Gotcha

Learning/memory thing.

Background
I can pick up things in major modes very quickly. I pick them up quickly. Jigs, easy. Hornpipes easy. Reels tough.Jigs, hornpipes- Remember them. I can improvise on them.

Lets go to minor mode. Dorian. Lydian. I can sight read the spots. (and listen to the tunes for the by ear group)

Have trouble remembering the minor mode stuff (A Dorian love it, struggle with it. Frustrating as hell. 6 to the bar easier than 8 to the bar minor mode drives up my blood pressure).

Any one else have issues like this? Just looking for thoughts.keep the abuse to a minimum.

I know that alot of folks can play anything and will make fun of this. My fid friends can play the minor modes in their sleep. Can’t figure that out.

If us box players are good at structure as accused :-) How do the fids excel with the minor mode stuff?

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I agree.

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Maybe it has something to do with pattern-recognition as opposed to tune-memory.

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In my case, it’s because I remember the tunes, not the modes.

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zippydw, what instruments do you play? I’m just wondering, because having come from playing the piano, where you have to have to remember to put your fingers in certain patterns of black / white keys, minor modes are unusual enough that you get a feel for their individuality. Thanks to that (I think) on the harp I find it easy to remember tunes in the minor modes in particular. Had I only ever played the harp, I don’t know if it would be so easy (on the harp, you just set the levers to the correct mode, so to be honest, everything is more or less the same in terms of where your fingers go).

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No frets! No buttons! No tempered scale straight jacket… ( and naturally I found myself singing that to Bob Marley’s "No Woman, No Cry"… :-/ )

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Ah - zippydw - just looked up your profile. As you are familiar with the keyboard, you will know what I mean about placing your hands differently for different modes. How about try to learn a minor-mode tune on something you can only barely play? By the time you have worked out how to get the tune recognisable, you will definitely have learnt it! Then you can play it on a more familiar instrument. Worth a go?

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My ‘playing an instrument’ musical world is the octave and a sixth that most tunes in the database here use. My ease of picking up tunes, and likelihood of making mistakes when doing so, is related to how familiar I am with the way that set of notes is being used. Modes are useful as of categorizing how the set of notes are being used.

Its not just a matter of major/minor/dorian etc. where the home note is is important. Easiest to learn, talking D whistle/flute, are tunes in D major with the home note at the bottom. Next are tunes in G major with the home note in the bottom octave and extending down to the D. Quite a way further down the list (after E minor, E dorian and some others) are D major tunes that come home to the D at the top of the first octave and G major centered on the high G. Near the bottom are A major tunes because though my fingers can now find the G# I don’t know many tunes in A tunes.

Odd things happen when I play a tune in one mode after playing several in another. If I work through all my Edorian tunes I can sometime make stupid mistakes in easy D major tunes because my fingers go the the right note in the wrong scale when heading for resolution.

I have noticed it for years, it is a clear pattern. I think modes may be a good way of categorizing how my head gets itself round tunes. Plagal/authentic is relevant. IIRC some people, maybe with more of an an ear for harmony than melody, don’t think that distinction has much use.

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It could be that to your ear, the dorian and lydian stuff still sounds exotic.

I’ve seen a lot of people taking a liking to these tunes because, to them, they sound exotic. i.e. of foreign origin or character; not native, introduced from abroad, but not fully naturalised.

While this can be, and often is, a good starting point, you are never going to feel comfortable with them and they will never sound comfortable until they are fully naturalised.

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How many people who only play fiddle can tell you the key of a tune straight off, even for straightforward stuff? Some will fast forward through the tune checking the defining notes!

I think it may well be to do with the structural info that you naturally hold. Many fiddlers haven’t got a clue about that stuff (speaking as a fiddle player) they just follow the thread of the tune.

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How many people can tell you what key Sailing into Walpole’s Marsh is in?

If you want to have a stab at it, you’d be wrong

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Lydian is not a minor mode and is extremely unusual in Irish music.

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"How many people can tell you what key Sailing into Walpole’s Marsh is in?"

A-dorian-D-ish.

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ha … and some Cmaj

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No no no no no… this *is* one of the rare tunes being in C lydian!

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Some years ago Dow composed a tune in the Lydian mode, and commented how difficult it was to compose because the tune kept trying to revert to a more common mode. I believe music in the Lydian mode is found occasionally in Eastern Europe.

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Try writing in Locrian (or "Loathsome Locrian" as one of my friends calls it)…

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" and some Cmaj"

Definitely not. At least in any version I’ve heard. The bulk of ‘em are hexatonic, sometimes with an inflected C.

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Sorry to get back late

Sh** keeps hitting the fan at the financial salt mine

Playing itm on b/c box-though also some whistle

Reading the dots or getting the tune is no problem. They dont stick as well as it were.

Maybe they all start |eaag|e. ;-)

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Saw the mention of eastern europe

First instrument was polish pa. My polish parents aspired for me to be a polka king LOL

So much in major keys. Maybe the minors sound strange unconciously

Thanks for the thoughts!

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Hey - finance stuff. Anything we should all be worried about (beyond the usual catastrophes that are unfolding in the EU)?

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Cmaj? I’m not feeling the C.

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Mark

sorry. I am one of the mushrooms they keep locked up in the basement of the salt mine.

Like everyone else, they keep us in the dark and feed us lots of manure as it were

I took up B/C in the hopes of finding a lucrative new career with Fame and Fortune.

May after winning at next Year’s Derry Fleadh

Right….

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@zippyw:

If I remember rightly, you play a B/C box, on which the fingers don’t go in a straight up-and-down sequence to play tunes in the common major or modal session keys as they do on a whistle, flute, or D/G or one-row melodeons. That might make it a bit harder for your fingers to associate a particular mode with a particular, probably often-repeated, pattern of fingering. Just a thought.

(For example, if I’m picking up an E minor-ish tune on the D whistle and the c is evidently a c#, then what I hear and what my fingers are telling me every time they’re going up and down the whistle is that the tune is actually in E Dorian. If the c is c natural, the tune’s in C Aeolian.)

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I meant, above, E Aeolian :-).

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You have ‘polish parents’, zippydw?

Are you Mr. Sheen?

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Oops! In my previous post I meant to type Locrian, but it came out as Lydian. Mysterious.

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If u grew up listening to the old fellas playing in the d row or d#, and u r in b/c then it will never sound right. Borrow a d box and try your minor modal worries.

Personally, I’ve invented a d row c natural nondiatonic contraption that solved the strengths weaknesses of both systems. Yet, I get less triplets and grace notes. Best of luck.

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Nicholas, I know what you mean but Aeolian is always Major. You mean E minor as distinct from E dorian. I don’t know the mode name for natural minor because it’s almost never used or referred to that way. Natural minor scales are also rarely used in actual music, you are far more likely to find the melodic minor scale(shifting note values depending on direction of melody. A tune that uses the melodic minor is Coleraine.

Anyway zippy, I could play dorian tunes all night and be happy as a clam. If it were major all night I would leave early. What it comes down to is I play what I like (meaning I like the sound and feel of the tune). So maybe it’s the case that you just like major scales more than minor ones. Anton Lavey said that the younger you are the more attractive minor scales are and as we age we start liking major scales more. Not sure how true that is, I think I will always prefer dorian, mixolydian, and minor scales more than major just because they sound more interesting, it’s more thrilling to learn the tunes.

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@Earl Cameron:

Taking E as the starting-note, I have always taken the scale E - F# - G - A - B - c nat - d - e to be in the Aeolian mode - and sure, it’s very much a minor scale.

I think it could be described as a ‘relative minor’ of G, G major; at any rate, it starts (with E) on a sixth note of the G major scale, and I believe that starting on the sixth in this manner is diagnostic of an Aeolian modal scale. Like G Major, the scale of G Aeolian has one sharp.

Sure, it may be what they call a ‘natural minor’. But certainly not major - though some tunes that start in this Aeolian / minor mode go on into sequences that are major, The Otter’s Holt reel being an example. Trad tunes generally referred to as ‘B Minor’ ones are very generally Aeolian ones, starting on the sixth of a major scale (e.g. on B in the scale of D Major).

The mood / feel of tunes in the Dorian mode differs appreciably from those in the Aeolian mode, due to such differences as exist in the intervals between the notes of these scales.

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"the younger you are the more attractive minor scales are and as we age we start liking major scales more"
Well I can concur with that.

" I think I will always prefer dorian, mixolydian, and minor scales more than major just because they sound more interesting,"
Maybe you won’t. Maybe, as I said earlier, you are attracted to the minor scales because you find them exotic. And as you get older, and those tunes become more naturalised to you, your prejudice will fade?

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@Mark Harmer:

"Anything we should all be worried about (beyond the usual catastrophes that are unfolding in the EU)?"

A good question. One answer I could give is, "If, after some time of turmoil, the powers that be somehow magic it all away, and it’s all placid and sunny for a while - keep worrying! It’ll be a con."

I’ve just read "Not Me" by the German author Joachim Fest, a very lucid account of his boyhood in Nazi Germany. It touches on the uncanny successes of Hitler in the earlier years which helped to lull or enthuse people both in Germany and abroad, who didn’t know or want to know about the persecutions, or that the full employment was geared to war-making.

It’s much about Joachim’s father, Johannes Fest, who was an anti-Nazi dissident from the start. The Nazis actually left him alone, apart from the detail of calling him up at 60 to fight on the Eastern Front. He became a Russian POW but survived, returning to Germany and living well into the postwar years.

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Lydian, oh Lydian, have you seen Lydian, Lydian the tattooed lady…

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Somebody had to quote the Grouchy Mode

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But top Marx for doing so.

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Taking E as an example, a classical musician would know the scale of E minor in two forms:

E melodic minor:
ascending E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D#-E’
descending E’-Dnat-Cnat-B-A-G-F#-E

E harmonic minor:
ascending and descending E-F#-G-A-B-Cnat-D#-E’

As pointed out by Nicholas the modal E minor (E Aeolian) consists of the notes in the descending form of E melodic minor.

I don’t really know why the melodic minor should be in two different forms according to whether you’re ascending or descending, but I would hazard a guess that it may be a vocal thing - perhaps singers find it easier to sharpen the final notes when leading up to the octave and to flatten them when coming back down. I’m not a singer.

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There’s the Depeche Mode, of course.

I wonder if ‘Dorian’, Aeolian’, ‘Lydian’ etc. began their currency as wacky joke names jotted on the back of a calfskin envelope by Mediaeval scholars hitting the mead in refectories in the middle of nowhere.

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The modal names we use today are derived from the Ancient Greek modes via mediaeval ecclesiastics who got the names thoroughly confused and wrongly assigned (can’t say I blame ‘em — wander only a little way into the study of Ancient Greek and ecclesiastical modes and you’ll find yourself in PhD area pdq).

The scholar Glareanus (1488 – 1563) brought some order into the inglorious confusion in his seminal work on music theory "Dodecachordon", which provides the basis for the classification of modes we use today.

Here is a list of our modern mode names showing the white notes on the piano keyboard you’d play for a mode, followed by the equivalent Ancient Greek mode name:

Ionian (major scale) (C-C) — Lydian

Mixolydian (G-G) — Ionian (or Hypophrygian)

Dorian (D-D) — Phrygian

Aeolian (minor scale) (A-A) — Aeolian

Phrygian (E-E) — Dorian

Locrian (B-B) — Mixolydian

Lydian (F-F) — Syntonolydian

I trust this is all perfectly clear.

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This just *proves* that the Mediaeval ecclesiastics were on the mead…:-).

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Sorry I was confusing Aeolian with Ionian.

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The reason why the melodic minor shifts is because it would often only lead up the tonic at the end or cadence, where the sharpened notes allow for a full cadence in the harmony. The rest of the time the melody would avoid leading scalewise up to the tonic. In actual practice it’s not hard and fast, but the two forms give the composer freedom to sharpen the notes of the scale in a cadential figure.

It’s kind of misleading that it’s called the melodic minor scale because it exists for the sake of harmony just as much as it allows for more freedom in the melody. Because it allows you to resolve with V i or even VMajorminor7 i, and also to have phrases that use the minor seventh and minor sixth notes.

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Thanks, Earl. That seems to have cleared it up for me.

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"Have trouble remembering the minor mode stuff (A Dorian love it, struggle with it. Frustrating as hell. 6 to the bar easier than 8 to the bar minor mode drives up my blood pressure)."

It may just be because you don’t have handfuls of A-dorian tunes to practice. I asked myself why I struggled so much with C tunes, until I realized, I only practice two C tunes. So naturally, I spend less time practicing in the key of C than the other keys; So naturally, I progress slower and struggle with it more.

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I know I like a session when somebody leads a set in C. I might only know one or two of the tunes though.

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"The modal names we use today are derived from the Ancient Greek modes via mediaeval ecclesiastics who got the names thoroughly confused and wrongly assigned"

The ecclesiastics were innocent. Boethius done it.

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Ignorance is not innocence.

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Thanks for the comments, and appreciate hte thoughts on the modalities

Yes i do have Polish parents. But I married a red-headed Irish girl (I think there is a footnote on my Passport) so I am allowed to live among many Irish folks as well as many who wish (and often make believe ) they are.

The other problem with the A minor tunes is having the choice of doing B and E on the B row of the box often.

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That ain’t a problem, zippydw, it’s an opportunity!

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And don’t forget:
the Pie-ala Mode, with 6 sharps and 1 double sharp;
the Lawnis Mode, with 5 sharps and 2 double sharps;
and the Flushcom Mode, with (o sht) 3 double sharps!
vlnplyr