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The Minor Mode
It is both interesting and helpful to note the meaning of the word 'minor' in connection with a mode. It is the Latin for 'lesser,' and stands as an abbreviation of the sentence 'with the lesser third.' This means, of course, that the third of the tonic chord is now a minor one, but makes no reference to the other scale-steps. The comĀ­poser should then regard the minor mode as the major altered by the lowering of the third scale-step, this being the one essential characteristic of the mode. As to other steps, the sixth is usually lowered; the seventh is usually raised (i.e., it corresponds with the same step in the major mode).
There are here two conflicting tendencies. If chords were alone the things to be considered, these steps might be unvaried; but since melody must also be provided for, the question of avoiding the augmented second presents itself, and this is accomplished in the two well-known ways, by raising the sixth in ascending and by lowering the seventh in descending.
The principal triads will appear as follows:
with inversions as in major.
Of subordinates, the VI may be freely used, e.g.,
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