At 12/13/12 10:28 PM, LemonCrush wrote:
Reading about one of my favorite albums "Kind of Blue".
In the wiki article, it mentions the song "Flamenco Sketches" as a modal jazz piece in that it strays from normal musical pop structure....
But listening to it, it sounds like any other song in that Davis and Coltrane, etc are just playing over chord changes like any other song...am I missing something here...
Modes change the function and overall tonality of the harmony.
When using modes "correctly" they each have their own sort of character as their progressions are different from normal major/minor tonality. When done right as Davis and Coltrane have done, the progressions will sound very cohesive as a pop-style progression would using more traditional harmony.
Each mode has it's own characteristic functions; scale degrees, chords, and progressions/cadences.
Let's stay within in the context of a key signature of C Major, no sharps or flats.
When we compare scale degrees in other modes, they are in comparison to the MAJOR scale intervals.
C Ionian: C D E F G A B C
Just major, but the characteristic note of Ionian/major is 4^ (scale degree 4 of C Ionian/major, so in C, this would be F) and ^7 (major 7)
It's characteristic chord would be V, Gmajor or even better G7 (dominant 7th)
A characteristic cadence would be V - I
D Dorian: D E F G A B C D -- very popular in pop music
Characteristic scale degrees would be b7 (C) and ^2 (E)
Characteristic dorian cadences: IV - i, i - ii
E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E -- this is a pretty intellectual and serious sounding mode, mostly heard in jazz,
Characteristic scale degree ^b2 (F)
Characteristic cadences: II - i, vdim - i, vii - i
F Lydian: F G A B C D E F ---this one is very popular in film music
Characteristic scale degree: ^#4 (B)
Characteristic cadences: II - I
G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G --- heard in a lot of "medieval" sounding music from medieval and Renaissance periods
Characteristic scale degrees: ^3 (B) ^7 (F)
Characteristic cadences: VII - I, v - I
A Aeolian: --- again, heard in a lot of medieval era music and film music as well. This mode is also considered to be natural minor
Characteristic scale degrees: ^b3 (C) ^b6 (F)
Characteristic cadences: v - i, VI - i, iv - i
B Locrian: B C D E F G A B -- similar to phrygian but there are a lot more complex functions going on here, which is why some theorists consider this not to even be a mode, and with the church modes, this one sounded to "evil" and it was hard for musicians back then to make this sound pleasing to the ear.
Characteristic scale degrees: ^b2 (C) ^b5 (F)
Characteristic cadences: ii - i(dim) V - i(dim)---yeah that one is sort of backwards, more of a retrogression, but like I said this mode has a lot of complex functions going on.
Remember, these are all in the context of C Major's key signature, no sharps or flats. These scale degrees can also apply in any other key signature, but will have different notes.
Quick example, in the key signature of G major (one sharp, F Sharp), dorian will now be A DORIAN:
A Dorian: A B C D E F# G ----> it has the same steps as D Dorian which I showed earlier.
You can also think of building these by their intervals: (W = whole step, H = Half step)
Dorian is: W H W W W H W, so on and so forth for the other modes.
I hope this might help you understand why modes exist. Most people know of them, and what they are, but not too many of us know what they really are, how they are used and applied, and their importance to tonal harmony.
If anyone has anything else to add, that would be great, I just wanted to briefly introduce what the modes are.