Friday, September 6, 2013

The modal melody and a basic harmonic construct, Part 1

A mode, like any other scale, can be the basic structure from which melodies and harmonic frameworks are developed.

When creating a modal melody follow these simple rules:

1.Emphasise the tonic (I) note of the mode. The duration of tonic note should be longer than the duration of other notes and it should occur more frequently.

2. Emphasise the characteristic pitch of the mode. (In D Dorian:  D - B)

3. Melodic cadence, or resolution II - I or VII - I is significant in confirming the authenticity of the mode.

But, before we start working on more sophisticated melodies, here's an example what a simple melody looks like, along with applicable harmonic functions:

(D Dorian)

As an alternative, cadence can be changed into II - I (last measure, instead of VII - I) although it is a weak and  less convincing ending.  Another way to emphasize the mode is to briefly stray from C to G and then back to Dm.  Remember that the Dorian 6th (D - B) dictates the Dm-G progression which is one of the hallmarks of the Dorian mode.

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