Meaning of MODE in English


in music, any of several ways of ordering the notes of a scale according to the intervals they form with the tonic, thus providing a theoretical framework for the melody. A mode is the vocabulary of a melody; it specifies which notes can be used and indicates which have special importance. Of these, there are two principal notes: the final, on which the melody ends, and the dominant, which is the secondary centre. in music, any of several ways of ordering the notes of a scale according to the intervals they form with the tonic note, thus providing a theoretical framework for melodic music. A mode is the vocabulary of a melody; it specifies which notes can be used and indicates which notes will have special importance. Of these notes, there are two principal ones: the final, the note on which the melody will end; and the dominant, the note that it will take as its secondary centre. In ancient and exotic traditions the notion of mode is quite elaborate and prescribed: a certain mode may have certain turns of phrase associated with it (this is particularly so in the case of the ragas of India, which embody a concept and practice whereby a given set of notes is used throughout a performance). In most Western art music, however, the mode is simply a scale in which the final and dominant are determined. This was the concept of mode developed by Greek theorists from the time of the 6th-century-BC mathematician Pythagoras, who theorized on the functional significance of numbers in music, up to the first two centuries of the Christian era. The concept of the mode became the basic theory for music in the Western church. The word mode now normally implies one of the eight types (Dorian, Hypodorian, Phrygian, Hypophrygian, Lydian, Hypolydian, Mixolydian, and Hypomixolydian) found in plainchant, or plainsong, which were described by writers on music from about the 9th century. They are sometimes known as the church modes, but, though they are the basic material of the vast repertoire of liturgical chant in the West, they were the substance too of every other kind of medieval music, from troubadour songs to the great masses of the 15th-century French composer Guillaume Dufay. From church and court they spread into the surrounding country, so that most folk music in western Europe is grounded in the same modes. The Renaissance, associated with the emergence of the system of major and minor keys, brought changes in compositional practice that 16th-century theorists sought to contain by adding four new modes. Two of these, the Ionian and the Aeolian, may be seen as the ancestors of the major and the minor scales, respectively. During the 17th century the modes dwindled in importance, and the major-minor system of scales became definitively established. Modes remained in the background, however, to effect harmonic nuance. One may speak, for instance, of a Lydian F major to describe music in F major in which the fourth is persistently raised from B flat to B. Certain composers turned to modal practice from an interest in folksong, sometimes giving a modal colour to music that remains in the major-minor system, sometimes using modes more systematically to develop alternatives to the major and minor keys. Many composers in the 20th century have done this in order to escape from the old system without adopting atonality, and normally they have constructed modes of their own rather than returning to those of the Middle Ages. Bla Bartk, Igor Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen, and Peter Maxwell Davies all offer evidence of the new vitality of modal composition after a lapse of half a millennium in the Western tradition, while the music of Asia and Africa has its roots in modes that have never died. Additional reading Gustave Reese, Music in the Middle Ages (1940), provides a competent account and critique of a wide variety of modal concepts prevailing during the Western Middle Ages and discusses their origins and repercussions. Willi Apel, The Tonality, in Gregorian Chant, ch. 3 (1958), describes thoroughly the system of church modes. Egon Wellesz, Eastern Elements in Western Chant: Studies in the Early History of Ecclesiastical Music (1947, reprinted 1967), discusses the modal structure of the melodies of Byzantine hymns and compares them with those of the Western Church. Abraham Z. Idelsohn, Jewish Music in Its Historical Development (1929, reprinted 1967), an authoritative work on Jewish music, contains chapters on The Modes of the Bible and The Modes of the Prayers. Egon Wellesz (ed.), The New Oxford History of Music, vol. 1 (1957), includes the following chapters discussing modes: Arnold Bake, The Music of India, Carl H. Kraeling and Lucetta Mowry, Music in the Bible, Eric Werner, The Music of Post-Biblical Judaism, Isobel Henderson, Ancient Greek Music, and Henry G. Farmer, The Music of Islam. Mieczyslaw Kolinski, Classification of Tonal Structures, Illustrated by a Comparative Chart of American Indian, African Negro, Afro-American and English-American Structures, Studies in Ethnomusicology, 1:3876 (1961), comprises a new system of modal classification accommodating a wide range of Western and non-Western modal patterns. Robert Lachmann, Musik des Orients (1929, reprinted 1966), is the first scholarly survey of the music of Eastern cultures.

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