The use of modal scales
Once upon a time I learned to play all the modes from ionian to locrian in every key as an exercise in sheer will...
I found it a good way to learn the fingerboard but also very exhausting and time-consuming. At the same time, I feel I learned a lot.
Should I recommend scale regimens like this to a fairly young (let's call them) pseudo-student? Or does it sound too excruciating and is there a better way?
Modal scales are just ordinary diatonic scales that start on a different note. So the long F major scale in the Scherzo movement of Beethoven's Sonata No. 5 ("Spring") ... I believe that runs from G to G. Probably that's some kind of "modal" scale, G-dorian perhaps. I just fail utterly to see how applying that nomenclature to that scale is helpful.
If you do, pay attention to their comments about it, and their enthusiasm for it. Doing it as a self-assignment is one thing. Suggesting someone else do it might have different results, though I've had a friend talk about having had to do just that for a year (play scales, not sure about modal).
All the modes are the same scale but use a different note as the tonic or starting note.
If you are interested in modes, consider looking outside of Europe. European modes have come down to us in a system, carefully purged of its details, reduced to simple scales that fit a diatonic model. It is but a shadow of a living modal tradition. Elsewhere things get more interesting--they form the foundation for a theory of improvisation. In the Middle East/Mediterranean, Iran, India, there are many, many different ways of filling up an octave. And real modes include characteristic phrases, references to famous songs in that mode (maqam, dastgah, raga, etc.), particular ornamentation, etc. A characteristic scale worth messing with is Maqam Hijaz (I think this is also used in Raga Bhairav), using the augmented second that so concerned the Church that they banned it... Its series of steps-- h w+h h w h w w (so, for ex, D Eb F# G A Bb C D). Listen to players who work within systems like this--Kahyan Kalhor on kamancheh is pretty amazing. I love picking a mode and exploring it.
I'm a mode cynic - myxomatosis and all that nonsense!
Traditional music is heavily modal, partly to take account of the limited capabilities of some instruments that play it.
Like many above have already answered, these are just in the common major scale, but starting on a different note than the tonic. In the same way the A-minor scale is just the C-major scale but going from A to A instead of C to C. I'm sure we all know that but the same story is happening with all these other modal scales, just starting on different notes. A very useful exercise is what is known as Primrose scales. This consists simply of choosing some position, say third, and playing all the major scales, but each time starting from the lowest note in that position (so C on the G-string in third, but possible also C# depending on the scale) and always running until the highest note in that position (so D on the E-string in third, possible D# or Dflat). So the only variation is the choice of position in which you are going to do that. It is very useful to try play each scale up and down in a single long bow, so the speed required is rather high, and get all the notes nice and clear.
My understanding: -
One of the most useful scale exercises, one that is not in the Flesch or any other book, is one-position scales. Starting with first finger, pick a key and start in every position. You stay in key, but the half-steps are in different places.
hi Scott this is in a book "Technique is Memory" by Primrose.
OP, you didn't mention the age and skill level of the violinist in question, but here's my take: you get modal scale work through passages of orchestral and solo repertoire, and in my opinion, there's just so much to learn that this could be an inefficient use of the limited time we all have.
There’s a bit of misinformation or unclear info here. I have a degree in classical music theory and am also very well versed in non-classical harmony
Galamian one position scales from his scale book are great.
Another twist: practise those harmonic minor scales!
"A mode is a scale that is associated with a specific chord type."
Believe what you will despite my credentials, but while it’s true that modes were different a few centuries ago , almost no one is thinking in terms of those modes outside of Renaissance music specialists. Chords didn’t exist back then in the way we think of them today.
I'm going off topic to correct several statements made about the history of modal scales. Modal scales go back much further in time than European church music or Greek music. That is a Euro-centric view of history.
And then along came Gesualdo in the late Renaissance and threw the harmony text books out of the window, 400 years before he was allowed to.
While it may be true that chords as we know them didn't exist at the time Gregorian modes were being regulated, this doesn't mean there weren't rules about how they were used.
If you go to the Irish folk music forum www.thesession.org and search for a tune in a particular key you will find that you are given a choice of keys with no more than 4 sharps or 2 flats (very pragmatic for the instruments used in the genre!), and invited to choose a mode from: major, minor, dorian and mixolydian. These modes are the basis of virtually all Irish folk tunes - currently, thesession.org has over 17,000 tune settings on its database.
I prefer to stay relatively anonymous here, but i’ve posted links that hint at who I am elsewhere, i don’t care to show off my credentials, and I also don’t care to argue, but you misread what I wrote:
I like Scott's definition, and have come to prefer it to the other frequently used one of a major scale that starts on a different note. The latter for me creates the perception that the major scale is somehow the most important of all, whereas it certainly is not in the music I play.
One thing I find interesting about traditional Irish music is my ears don't detect a resolve in some of it. Leaves you hanging sometimes. I don't think it was the intent but the mode they were playing in.
"Like I said, I prefer to stay relatively anonymous on this site because my name gets searched a lot on google for music reasons, and I am quite sought after for what I do which is related to this topic :-) . No more no less, I am not interested in arguing...
Seems like people are getting quite defensive here :-)
The attack on someones right to post annonymously or semi anonymously is no longer even related to the topic, and telling people to shutup is uncalled for meanness.
" I spent the entire week producing a documentary on Gary Karr ". Since producers of documentaries on famous people tend to have a lot of expertise in their own right, and are unlikely to be chosen for the job otherwise, that suggests something to me.
I must try that one next time I attempt to book a table at The Ivy; "I don't like to advertise who I am but I'm very important so you'd better accept my reservation". The motto of the Royal Society is "nullius in verba", by which is implied "accept nobody's word as authoritative without substantiation".
Of course in the Arts two professors will disagree about the answer to an open question, and both will substantiate their view with full documentation, biblio, etc. And at least one of them will still be wrong!
In my first year chemistry course, the department decided to experiment on us with a new text book which they doled out one chapter at a time. Before mid-year exams, my study group discovered a disagreement between professors on the question of distillation, whether alcohol could be distilled to 100% purity or not.
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