Musical Modes Characteristics

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Modes can add interest and really shape a musical piece so knowing the modes and what each is noted for is a good thing. I come back to this post quite often when I am composing so I can choose a mode.

First, some good articles on musical modes:

Music Modes – How to Enrich Your Songs with Modal Color

The Magic Behind Musical Modes

Piano Scales

Putting it All Together: The Mode Wrap-up

Hearing the Unique Sound of Each Mode

Adding Texture with Archaic Modes

Here are how I characterize different musical modes:

I put a capital “M” in front of the ones that are “Major”-sounding, and a lower-case “m” for ones that sound “minor.”

For example, any of the ones with lower-case m, if you play the scale over a minor chord, they will sound good. And do the opposite for the capital M ones.

From Charpentier’s Regles de Composition ca. 1682.

Updated: 21-February-2019

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