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Theory IV: Modes and Scales in 20th Century Music

The Seven Modes

There are seven modes realted to the eclesiastic modes of the middle ages and rennaissance. 2 of these modes are the same as Major (Ionian) and natural minor (Aeolian). The others are quite distinctive, but can still be related to the major and minor scales.

Ionian (same as major)

Dorian (scale degree 2) - Minor raised 6th

Phrygian (scale degree 3) - minor lowered 2nd

Lydian (scale degree 4) - Major raised 4

Mixolydian (scale degree 5) - Major lowered 7th

Aeolian (natural Minor)

Locrian (scale degree 7) - minor lowered 2nd and 5th

Hybrid and artificial (exotic) scales

These scales are often used to imitate sounds of other cultures (as in pentatonic scales) or are symetrical scales (i.e. made of patterns that limit their transpositions). The whole tone scale is made up of only whole-tones, which means that all notes are equal, and it's left up to the composer to decide which one acts as a tonal center through various techniques such as repetition, ostinato, returning. There are only 2 possible transpositions of the whole-tone scale, after which you are repeating the notes of one of the two. The octatonic scale only has 3 transpositions until the notes are repeated.

Lydian-Mixolydian - Major, raised 4 lowered 7

Octatonic (whole-half)

Octatonic (half-whole)