I’m afraid I felt a need to complete the series of "tunes in quirky modes". This one’s in F# locrian - strangest of all the modes of the Western major scale - I just couldn’t allow it to feel left out! Unlike the others, the locrian is based around the tritone or diminished 5th, also known as the "devil’s interval" or "devil’s triad"; that’s the jarring sound created when F# and C# are played together. For this reason the tune was originally called "The Devil’s Gap", but I later decided to rename it after Triton, Greek God of water and the sea, who carried a trident like his father Poseidon (and the devil?!)
I can tell you it was a challenge to come up with a tune in this mode that was half listenable-to never mind vaguely "Irish". It took a couple of days of playing around with the scale and getting used to the feel of it. At first all attempts to create sensible melodic phrases would lapse into its more familiar cousin-mode Dmix, and it would turn into something like the start of "The Collier’s Reel". Then finally it clicked and I suddenly realised that I was going to have to keep going into E minor. Even so, it was difficult to stay in the locrian mode for a whole tune because of its instability, and the second part strays into the relatively (!) normal-sounding B phrygian.
The locrian mode explores the dark side of the "Irish" 7-note scale so to speak, and if the phrygian mode could be described as sounding more melancholy and mysterious than the natural minor, then the locrian to me sounds perplexing and claustrophobic. I think I would describe this tune as sounding rather like "an Irish reel on a bad acid trip". To be honest, I find it a bit distressing if overplayed, and I’m sure that this tune turned out the way it did partly because of my worries and feelings of nausea over what’s happening in Iraq.
I’m not a fiddle player but for any fiddler weird enough to want to try playing this, I have a feeling that the octave leaps might be a bit much, particularly the one on E in the final bar of each part. A substitution of some sort of triplet on the low E might solve this.
Whoops I meant F# and Cnat first paragraph.
You actually did it! And I thought _Two Steps Up_ sounded weird. Silly me. You certainly work the tri-tone to its strength in this tune. I like the way your B section melody uses lower notes than the A part.
Are you familiar with Niall Kenny’s reel _A Trip to Pakistan_? Various tune collections (if any one can find them, you can) list the tune as Edorian or Eminor. Well the setting I know uses only F# with all the Cs natural. That rules out dorian, yesno?There’s no D# so that eliminates harmonic or melodic minor. Would that not place his tune in Eaolean? Nitpicking, I know.
As I taken the Great Circle route to arrive at my point, I’ve been looking for a reel to play after _A Trip to Pakistan_. I just tried it twice and I’m satisfied. This set works melodicly and, errr thematically as I read your comments. Nice choice to post this tune on today of all days:-)
I can’t believe you’ve actually managed to put this in a set with something. Actually I’d only ever heard of A Trip To Pakistan but I might sit down and learn it now. By the way it is in E aeolian, but it’s okay to list it as E minor because the aeolian is the "natural minor", so in this context you’d be talking about aeo by default, not the harmonic or melodic. (That sounds like such a load of gibberish!)
Many thanks Mark! You’ve filled in a gap in our knowledge.
I’ve altered bars 1, 3 and 5 of the B-part - see abc.