Least Significant Bit

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How to teach Music to a Programmer – II

Posted by rafinhaviolino en agosto 18, 2008

Well… lots of people already know about Major and Minor mode. On the western music, since the XVII century, we are used to hear another “kind of sound”. The base of our music are major or minor scales, and all of them has the same distance beetwen notes. What I wanna say is that you can hear a D, G, E (major)… scale and you will always hear the distances “T – T – S – T – T – T – S”.

But before the tonalism, the music was wrote on modes. Modes that were used on Greece and then used also by church on midle age. But a detail: wasn’t the practice of the music that the church learnt from Greece. Just the theory. On truth the church did all that they could do to finish with the Greek music. Just as they did to “erease” all that wasn’t from and for God. In fact, the church modes originated in the 9th century. Authors from that period misinterpreted a text by Boethius, a scholar from the 6th century who had translated the Greek musical theory into Latin. But about the music from church on midle age we talk soon 😉

So lets talk about the modes.

The modes were Ionian(C), Dorian(D), Phrygian(E), Lydian(F), Mixolydian(G), Aeolian(A) and Locrian(B) (You can click on modes to hear the “scale” of them).

The sound is like if you take the inicial note from each mode and go playing just the white notes of a piano until the next octave. It means, on Dorian mode, for example, you play D E F G A B C D.

On Greece was exactly the modes that were controled for the philosophers. For example, this quote from Aristotle’s Politics:

The musical modes differ essentially from one another, and those who hear them are differently affected by each. Some of them make men sad and grave, like the so called Mixolydian; others enfeeble the mind, like the relaxed modes; another, again, produces a moderate or settled temper, which appears to be the peculiar effect of the Dorian; and the Phrygian inspires enthusiasm.

On church, they were used to write on 8 different modes. On truth you can divide them in 2 parts. The authentic and plagal modes. Just to understand the maily difference: The plagal starts a 4th under the authentic mode.

Authentics were Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian. The plagal modes has the same name but with the “Hypo” before. So Hypodorian, hypophrygian… As it:

Today you can find those modes on Jazz, Impressionism musics, Armorial musics…

The Ionian mode has the same sound of our Major scale (it starts on C, so sounds as a C major scale). The Aeolian forms the base of the most common Western minor scale and the Phrygian mode is an important part of the flamenco sound. And also the Lydian mode is most often heard in soundtrack and video game music.

On next post I will speak a little about the music on church. How it started and the importances of it on the classical music that we have today. Now I will be able to show examples and soon to talk about composers that you know and musics that you will probably reconize. So I hope it will be more interesting 😉


Una respuesta to “How to teach Music to a Programmer – II”

  1. jayzeegp said

    It was ineresting =)
    And I want to say thanks to the greeks for the Lydian mode 😛 specially for the videogames =)

    Waiting for more!!! :@


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