Written by EJ Jones
Please somebody more knowledgeable give the correct key. It doesn’t sound like major.
BTW the transcription follows Turlach Boylan and EJ Jones playing on the album Shame the Devil
The correct key?
You’ve certainly raised a very interesting question here, brotherstorm …
Your existing submission in the key of D-Major has generated a key signature with two sharps. However, the second sharp (C#) is not necessary, as the the note "C" does not occur anywhere in the tune. So if you had submitted the tune in a key with just one sharp, it would sound exactly the same.
A tune resolving on "D" with a key signature of one sharp would put it in the Mixolydian mode.
However, it could also be argued that the tune should be classified as hexatonic - but of course thesession does not cater for this particular classification.
This being the case, I would classify as D-Mix, as I feel that this is closer than your existing D-Major classification.
Uh, no, D major
Mix, chords outlined in this piece are D, G, A. Those are all components of D major. If it were D mix, D and C chords would be featured prominently. By "outlined" I mean arpeggiated, present in dyads, those three notes of which are present at important moments when chords are changed, etc.
Reenactor - read my comment more carefully!
True, D G and A are the main chords for D-Major. But these three chords can also be used in D-Mix.
As you rightly say, you would normally ALSO expect to be using "C" chords in a D-Mix tune, and I guess that you found that this wasn’t the case here. If so, it’s because there is no "C" anywhere in the tune.
As explained in my previous post, strictly speaking this is a D-Hex tune (i.e. with a missing seventh, in diatonic scale terms).
But thesession does not allow you to submit a tune as "D-Hex with a missing seventh". Which would leave you (in this case) with D-Maj or D-Mix - either would be a compromise.
A characteristic of all major scales, (as used in relatively modern harmonic music) is the seventh note one semitone below the tonic. But this tune has no "seventh note".
That’s why, when you play it, it doesn’t sound "major". If you were going to set it with another tune, it would sit more easily with a D-Mix one than a D-Maj one. That’s because D-hex and D-Mix are primarily melodic, whereas D-Maj is a harmonic scale.
Brotherstorm (who submitted this tune) instinctively understood this, even though he was unable to explain why.
I read it plenty carefully.
Oh dear god. You’re right, I don’t "instinctively understand this", because in fact I know what I’m doing here. I don’t need instinct, I can explain it, and tell you why it works by ear and what the difference between modes and scales are.
No scale is harmonic - it is linear. Scales often outline modes, which describe harmony. Major is a mode, like mixolydian is a mode. Sometimes on this website people get in arguments whether a tune in a pentatonic scale should be accompanied with notes outside that scale. Fine, well and good -I think that’s a bit peripheral to what we’re talking about here, although it would be damn hard to make this feel mixolydian without adding a fictional C-natural.
People also get into arguments about whether it should be accompanied at all - if you’re one of those, well, fine, we’re splitting hairs, and we’d probably be better off drinking than continuing here.
Mix O’Lydian, if someone were to hand you a guitar, and you had to back this tune, you wouldn’t play a single C chord. Mixolydian tunes are based around the main chord and a major flat seven chord (another major chord, a whole step down). Whatever scale you want to say this tune is in here doesn’t matter, because you’re not going to play a single C chord. No-one is going to hear it as mixolydian unless you play that chord. No-one. People are far more tuned into what the harmonic motion of something is, rather than counting the notes in the scale to see if the C# (or indeed an A) is missing.
If the C# were replaced with a C-nat, it would mean something. But it’s not, not once. And all the other chords in this piece, as you’ve pointed out, revolve around functional major harmony - D, G, and A = I,IV and V. The fact that the A is incomplete is meaningless - play AE on the piano, follow it by a D chord, go back and forth, and then let your ear fill in the sound. It’s going to hear C#.
Finally, I would *not* expect a C chord in D major, unless we were modulating or it was borrowed from another key. D major does not have C-nat, it has C#.
Addendum - I misread you to say you’d expect C in D major. I see that’s not the case, apologies. Let me clarify.
It wasn’t that there weren’t any Cs in the tune. It’s that all the other parts were present. The structure was built for D chords, going to G chords, going back to D chords, going to an incomplete A chord, going to a D chord. That a strong argument for D major. If I were looking at a theoretical tune in D mix that had no C, I’d expect to see a field of (D F# A) going to E and G, and then back to a D major triad (maybe with other stuff in between, of course). I see few to none instances of that . Therefore, I think D major.
Trying as hard as I can to hear it in mix, I hear possible C chord in the 3rd measure of parts I, III, V, and VII. Meh, I think I could enjoy it that way, but I don’t think that the lines end in mixolydian, and I hear them more strongly as e minory things. I’m standing with all my points but I’m willing to see a slightly broader universe here. Now I’m going to stop posting and go back to bed - I write too much when I’m home sick.
My Last Word on End of the World
Reenactor: you said above: "no scale is harmonic".
There are primarily TWO harmonic scales in western diatonic music:
(b) Harmonic Minor
I don’t expect you to take my word for it though - I quote the Oxford Companion to Music and the Oxford Dictionary of Music as my sources. I suppose that it’s possible that the learned profs at Oxford were wrong about this - maybe you should write to them about it.
Apart from the harmonic minor scale mentioned above, there are also two other minor scales:
(a) Melodic Minor
(b) Natural Minor (also called Aolian mode)
In the context of ITM (and other related traditional music) the majority of the "minor" keys tunes are natural minor (or Aolian mode, if you prefer that term).
Then of course we have the other "modal" scales, though the only two significant ones (in the context of ITM) are Dorian and Mixolydian.
Unfortunately, as you know, the complications don’t end there. The "key" classifications permitted on the session don’t cover all eventualities, specifically those tunes using pentatonic or hexatonic scales.
The "End of the World" uses a hexatonic (or gapped) scale, so that’s how it should be classified. But thesession does not cater for that particular classification. That is not sufficient reason to throw it into the "major scale tune" bucket. Without a C# anywhere in it, no-one can say with certainty that it’s D-Maj.
And because there is no C-nat in it, no-one can say with certainty that it’s D-Mix either. And I DIDN’T say that it was Mixolydian myself. I just said that Mixolydian would be a closer match than major.
The reason that I said that it was a closer match is that Mixolydian and Hexatonic are both melodic scales, whereas major (or Ionian mode, if you prefer) is a harmonic scale.
Finally - by your own admission - you say you can hear "minory" things in it - which would rather seem to counter your argument that it’s a major scale tune!
I don’t have a copy of the Oxfords here at work, but the one minor scale is called "harmonic" in western music because of how composers in the common practice period adjusted the scale to harmonize their music (wanting a raised leading tone leading to a dominant V chord in cadences). The scale itself isn’t harmonic—it’s how you use it.
I think you can at least agree that a hexatonic melody can be harmonized?? And that not every composition in a major key is going to have all notes of the major scale present?
D hexatonic harmonization
Again, being at work, I haven’t played through the tune. But eyeballing the notes, regardless of any Cs present, I’d back this in Dmajor.
dr_funkenstein - I’m well aware that "harmonic scale" is not in itself harmonic, but means a "scale that lends itself to harmony".
There is in any case a relationship between scales and harmony, as the important notes of the diatonic scales are derived from the harmonics of the fundamental, as I’m sure you know.
I accept that the expression that I used may have been misunderstood, but don’t blame me, as I didn’t invent the term!
In any case, arguments turning on the terminology used are totally pointless, as all they do is to detract from the main purpose of the discussion.
I also know about the influence of the composers and the consequential rise in the popularity of harmonic music to the detriment of melodic music
One of the reasons that music is such a fascinating subject is that it sits astride the boundaries of science and art. Is a particular composition using a gapped scale, or is it using a major scale where not all of the notes have been used? Certainly, in the context of a short musical phrase it would be impossible to answer such a question. But this is an eight-part tune.
However, if you still feel that the scientific or technical approach doesn’t answer the question, you can resort to an "artistic" approach. Listen to the tune. Does it share the "mood" of other accepted "D-Major" tunes? I would say not - and it would seem that the person who submitted the tune didn’t think so either!
Regarding your comment: "I’d back this in Dmajor". Equally, you could have said: "I’d back this in D-Hex with a missing seventh". The chords would be pretty much the same.
Missing a point?
You are missing the point here.
You are arguing as if this was a well crafted tune rthat has stood the test of time. Its not. Its a pretty structureless jumble that is hard to remember, even ignoring the up an octave 5th, 6th and 7th parts. I can’t see this one lastiung in the repertoire for long.
Because there is no overall structure, I suspect that its modality wanders, not just between lines, (which would be cool, particularly if there was some pattern to its meanderings. ) However, I suspect it changes modality from bat to bar.
What a lot of nonsense!
Sorry Mix but cutting through all the waffle from the 2 of you you can not use an A major chord in a D mix tune - it would sound woeful and would stick out like a thing that sticks out… a lot!
You could use an A minor chord though! (or a diadic/incomplete chord of A and E)
Also on a purely technical point of view you may be right that most ‘minor’ tunes are in Aolian mode but I would argue that that is not the case when the root note is A. There are probably very few A minor tunes in comparison to say A dorian tunes due to that awkward Fnat note.
I have not looked at this tune. I have no idea what key it is in. I might look at it later, if I get the time - if for no other reason than to settle this argument with a judicious pronouncement!
Leave the tunes to tune players and the guitars and their chords to songs.
Guitars only mess up sessions (90+% of the time).
Back in the 60’s and early 70’s anyone with a guitar at asession was considered a fool - at best.
"Say why didn’t you tell me that one would change key?? " Tell the Bodhran bangers et al the key and watch their faces.
Stick to the music.