Writing Key Signatures For Modal Music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Jul 27, 2018.

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  1. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    intersting thread, it made me re-assess my first response.

    two approaches outlined:
    1.) use the relative major/ionian key signature (D major)
    2.) use the key signature of the tonal center that is outlined the melody / cadence (A major)

    but which is ideal? which one communicates the song simply, clearly to a player?

    option 1 has no accidentals so it is arguably "simpler" (my first reponse)
    but, a player might mistakenly see the D major key sig and think "the tonic is D"

    Option 2 implies to the reader a key center of A which is correct.
    The accidentals might be "less simple" but it would also clearly indicate
    the mixoydian deviations from A major which I think is clearer.

    So I'd go with #2. Clarity > Simplicity
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  2. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Please, do.
    Anything for my friend "mushroo".
    Mushroo likes this.
  3. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    If it's your final answer, please, go with that Option 2.drool
  4. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Last name, please.

    C major scale.

    First name, please.


    The C major scale family.
    Spin Doctor and MalcolmAmos like this.
  5. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Now, we need to use a different term, "Modal Interchange" or "Borrowed Chord".

    You don't need any explanation - you've already known about it.

    Let's irk some TB members and use "Wikipedia"(What????)

    Borrowed chord - Wikipedia

    "A borrowed chord (also called mode mixture,[2] modal mixture,[3] substituted[4] modal interchange[2]) is a chord borrowed from the parallel key (minor or major scale with the same tonic). Borrowed chords are typically used as "color chords", providing harmonic variety through contrasting scale forms, which are major scales and the three forms of minor scales."

    "The ♭VII-I (as D (D5) - C from your example - WUTP)cadence with ♭VII substituting for V is common, as well as ♭II–I, ♭III–I(as F maj with D major- WUTP) , and ♭VI–I.[8] In popular music, the major triad on the lowered third scale degree (♭III),... the major triad on the lowered seventh scale degree, or "flat seven" (♭VII) are common. In C major, these chords are E♭, A♭, and B♭ respectively.

    P.S. As always, it's my pleasure to discuss some "alternative" music "issues" in a civilized manner with you.
    And it's a wonderful thing.

    P.S. 2. Sorry I've forgotten to add that the borrowed F major is your mentioned "Secondary Subdominant" - F major before C major.

    More about the secondary subdominant.
    UBD lesson
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
    Mushroo likes this.
  6. S**t, better make that Theory 101. There's some insane ideas getting thrown around in here. As usual...

    BTW Groot, why do you have the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as your avatar? Haven't seen that in a zillion years, lol...
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    How about "It starts on A, goes to D, and then continues alternating A-D until the end." :D
    IamGroot and Whousedtoplay like this.
  8. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    It starts with A and resolves into D:hyper:
    And repeats the same hundreds of times.:roflmao:
  9. Blissful_Lad

    Blissful_Lad Inactive

    Feb 22, 2018
    Let's try it this way:

    The Dm7 is Phrygian, which is the key of Bb major, (two flats).

    The Dm7 is Aeolian, which is the key of F major, (one flat).

    Chords are NOT modes.

    The correct key signature for D Dorian is One-Flat.

    Your mode misunderstanding likely comes from the belief that when you are in the Key of C Major, every time you see a Dmin7 chord you are in D Dorian. Incorrect. The Dmin7 is a ii7 chord in C Major. You are not in D Dorian.

    This is the BIG LIE perpetrated by College Jazz/Chord teaching. AVOID!
    Spin Doctor likes this.
  10. Having read over your posts, I have to say that your understanding of modes is grossly inaccurate and deeply flawed... It is the most complete and almost perfectly sublime level of wrong I've ever seen... And you present it with such conviction, that I'm not going to spend one second trying to correct it...

    I'm just going to admire it... It's like... Art.

    Please! Continue...
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
    SteveCS, Whousedtoplay and Lobster11 like this.
  11. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I disagree with much of what youve said in this thread, but that is pure gold... Finally someone with the cahones to say it in no uncertain terms...
    Mushroo likes this.
  12. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    You are basically on the right track with your "chords are not modes" thinking.

    However, that being said, I've usually seen "So What" written with a key signature of no sharps or flats, for example the standard Real Book version.
    IamGroot and Spin Doctor like this.
  13. Yes. He was correct that chords are not modes. That was pretty much it though. I dunno what it is that when I see that type of malarkey presented as fact, it makes me crazy...
  14. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Yep, College jazz program educated. Will be returning to school in the fall. I will be sure to mention to my instructors that what they teach is a big lie. May I ask where you received your musical education? If you ever got one.

    One flat would imply D Natural Minor, not Dorian.

    You said :

    "Your mode misunderstanding likely comes from the belief that when you are in the Key of C Major, every time you see a Dmin7 chord you are in D Dorian. Incorrect. The Dmin7 is a ii7 chord in C Major. You are not in D Dorian."

    There is no misunderstanding. The tune "So What" is a modal tune based around D Dorian and Eb Dorian for the most part. Are you familiar with the song? Have you listened to it?

    As far as saying I think Dm7 implies Dorian everytime I see it, that's pretty insulting. You take some screwed up idea and try to put those words in my mouth???
  15. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Hey folks,

    I am getting off this thread. I dont need to be wasting my time arguing on something thats pretty clear to folks with a jazz background. I am working on getting my keyboard, upright and sight singing skills in order for school.
  16. Blissful_Lad

    Blissful_Lad Inactive

    Feb 22, 2018
    Spin, nothing to admire. However, you failed miserably to understand "context".

    That was a tongue-in-cheek response to IamGroot's post. Sorry if it flew over your head. Did you read the entire posts (his and mine)? The two examples I gave were actually IamGroots response, worded differently: "The Dm7 is D Dorian, which is key of C major (no accidentals)". I substituted two other keys, that naturally have a Dmin7 chord, (I hope you knew that). This was to show how ridiculous IamGroots's statement was. Unfortunately I was being too sublime, for you. Woosh - over your head!

    Since you missed it, I will state it plainly: Chords are NOT modes. Dmin7 is NOT Dorian, in the key of C Major!

    Take away the tongue-in-cheek:

    The Dm7 IS NOT Phrygian, which is the key of Bb major, (two flats).
    The Dm7 IS NOT Aeolian, which is the key of F major, (one flat).

    I'll take the heat for not being clear. Is that better?

    There is no "grossly inaccurate and deeply flawed" understanding of modes, on my part.

    Your statement: "It is the most complete and almost perfectly sublime level of wrong I've ever seen" is EXACTLY what I posted to demonstrate IamGroots's "perfectly sublime level of wrong".

    Slow down, you're too wound up from spinning.
  17. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Sure - I'll throw some gasoline on this fire!
    See/Hear below - "Desire" as recorded by Boz Scaggs in 2001 on "Dig".
    It's in Dminor - but there are tons of Bnaturals (in the G#dim7 chord, in the A7,9 chord at the end of the verse!) and some Bflats (in the A7b9+5 chord within the verse). The melody happens to contain a lot of the notes "C,D,E,G,A...", but I would NOT say that the melody is "IN C".
    I've come to the conclusion that Key Signatures (Dminor = Bb???) are becoming less and less relevant in modern music - i.e., beginning players often want to know - "what is the scale that I can play throughout this song?" (Please "UnAsk that question!")
    I believe/hear/play/teach that the harmony occurring measure-by-measure is nuanced and complex and requires a great deal of "Harmonic Study" (tm) in order to function in a supportive/creative role as a bassist, these days.
    I would recommend keyboard study (NOT watching a YT video of someone else, or their Cat!), in order to hear/feel/understand the Harmonic Landscape (tm).
    Such a beautiful composition and performance.
    ianuaditis and Whousedtoplay like this.
  18. Blissful_Lad

    Blissful_Lad Inactive

    Feb 22, 2018
    cojones :thumbsup:

    I've only said two things:

    1) The "key signature of a mode" is derived from its parallel Major or Minor key signature. I explained how to determine whether a mode is Major or Minor. I also suggested, to do whatever you want, no need to follow convention. I simply answered the original question.

    2) Chord/Scale teaching is absurd. No REAL jazz musician uses it. It's a teaching tool to get quick results, albeit mediocre results. And keep the student happy, while they are in college getting a jazz degree.

    I said NOTHING else about modes, other than "a chord is not a mode".
  19. Blissful_Lad

    Blissful_Lad Inactive

    Feb 22, 2018
    See previous responses.
  20. Blissful_Lad

    Blissful_Lad Inactive

    Feb 22, 2018
    Oh, IamGroot... where do I start...?

    Yes, IamGroot, I have more than one. As to where, I'll leave that a mystery. It wasn't online, though.

    I wouldn't get into any "disagreements" with the teachers. They have a school approved syllabus that they teach from. However, if you do want to know about the real deal, hang out with some cats that actually make a living playing jazz. :woot:

    Hopefully you will take some CLASSICAL music theory courses (with aural skills and lots of four-part writing). There is no "D Natural Minor" key signature. In music school, you will soon discover the "flexibilty" a minor key has -- raised sixth, leading tone, V7 -- that will require accidentals. Not unlike D Dorian utilizing the parallel minor key signature of D Minor.

    That is indeed what I posted.

    Yes, IamGroot, I am very familiar with "So What" (it's NOT a song). I would bet the farm I have listened to MANY more different versions, far more times than you have. As well as performed it.

    If... you are familiar with the "most famous" recording, you will discover that very little of it is in D Dorian ONLY. The riff is about it. Paul Chambers' lines seamlessly incorporate and mix Melodic and Natural Minor scales - very similar to Bach (I highly recommend ALL bassists to study Bach - seriously). He uses B♭ as well as B♮, and C♮ as well as C♯.

    I only quoted you: IamGroots post #55
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