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Modal Music                           129
We have here set forth seven (or fourteen) modes, all played on the white keys, using the tones that occur in the natural scale of C. With the modern keyboard, each of these may, of course, be transposed up or down to eleven other positions—this will give seventy-seven (or one hundred and fifty-four) possible scales. It is easy to steer straight through this confusing mass of possibilities by remembering that a Mode can be played on any pitch by using a modern major signature, as follows:
For Mode I, the major signature one tone below the keynote.
For Mode III, the major signature a major 3rd below keynote.
For Mode V, the major signature a perfect 4th below keynote.
For Mode VII, the major signature a perfect 5th below keynote.
For Mode IX, the major signature a major 6th below keynote.
Thus Mode I (the Dorian) may be played on different degrees as follows:
In addition to the tonality, the real old modal harmony was distinguished by an absence of time-groups, as under­stood to-day. The rhythm was free and unfettered, corresponding with that of the words in prose. This will be clearly realized when it is remembered that bars, as indicating time, were not used until late in the sixteenth century; the harmonies we are considering were developed before that date.
To give the true feeling, therefore, of the old atmo­sphere, it is necessary for the student to abandon his ideas of modern rhythm when playing in the Ecclesiastical Modes, and to adopt a free system. This may have an
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III