learning music modes

May 15th, 2007

As with a lot of things, the theory of music intervals is complicated enough to require a little bit of maturity. The division of the octave into different tunings has evolved with the times, and while the concept is simple, there are many nuances.

An easy way to illustrate is by observing the piano keyboard. The most fundamental scale is C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, and that's an octave, of course. Each of the scales (or collections) built on these successive pitches has its own fancy Greek name, so if you want to understand what the heck people are saying, you better know these as well.

music_modes.pngThe problem is a typical memorization exercise, tie 7 different pitches to 7 Greek names. There is no obvious way to do this, match one set of numbers with another set of names. Except when you're a football supporter. We can memorize lineups and shirt numbers like nobody's business, linking them to faces and positions on the pitch. So why not leverage this ability.

There are 7 players, so we're going to play a 2-2-2 formation. The numbering is standard, ascending from right to left. C is our fundamental pitch, so that's where we start counting.

You're going to look at this formation, and the next time someone mentions Lydian mode you're going to think "Lydian... right midfield, shirt number 4, so that's... C, D, E, F. The mode is then F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F".

If only we could get this team into Football Manager, everyone would know this.

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4 Responses to "learning music modes"

  1. erik says:

    "We can memorize lineups and shirt numbers like nobody’s business, linking them to faces and positions on the pitch."

    Good metaphor :D

  2. Jay K says:

    This is how I learned them: "I don't play loud music after lunch." Then you just have to remember the difference between locrian and lydian, I just remember that lydian is right next to mixo-lydian and locrian sounds demonic... But your way is good too :)

  3. Jay K says:

    (please feel free to correct my misuse of "you're" to "your" in my previous post... people who make that mistake look like morons. Doh!)

  4. numerodix says:

    They certainly do, and nothing annoys me more than when I type that myself :D