Harmony/Basic Materials/Four Strong Modes/Melodic

A Melodic Example

The different aspects of a melody
In the same way that a portrait photographer can catch various aspects of his subject by placing his camera at different angles, a melody may take on different aspects depending on how we approach it. The same melody may be presented in various aspects, both in the World of Time (in its Rhythm, binary or ternary) and in the World of Pitch (in its Mode, major or minor, diatonic or chromatic).

Let us discover the different aspects of the same melody as it is perceived through the four strong modes. If you have not yet seen and heard the harmonies of these modes, we strongly recommend that you do so.

We have chosen a simple little tune, "Where Is My Little Dog Gone" because it is harmonically very simple, limited to TONIC and DOMINANT chords and it covers a complete octave, which enables us to observe the chromatic changes wherever they occur.


1. The diatonic MAJOR mode

                         (Mode 1)
In the key of F major,
          a good key for singing,
     we find the melody as we know it.
To hear this version click on the music.


2. The chromatic MINOR mode

                         (Mode 4)
In F minor, to keep the same range.
We’ll save the surprises for a little later.
What are the changes here?
     Still the same scale degree 1 (F),
          as well as 2, 4, 5 (G, Bb, C).
     Scale degree 3 (Ab) is flattened,
          the TONIC chord is minor.
     Scale degree 6 (Db) is also flattened,
          the COUNTER chord is also minor.
     But scale degree 7 (E) is the same,
          the DOMINANT chord is major.
We are not surprised by this aspect,
     this is the minor mode we are used to.
To hear this version click on the music.

We strongly urge you to sing this,
improvising an accompaniment with the chord symbols if you can.


3. The diatonic MINOR mode

                         (Mode 2)
In the key of D minor, the relative minor
     which keeps us in the same range.
What are the changes here?
     Each note is inverted using the note G
          (the central note of the 1-flat Window)
     as a pivot (G = G, F = A, E = Bb, D= C),
     or if we prefer using the the degrees
          of the MAJOR and MINOR scales,
     3 is the pivot (3 = 3, 2 = 4, 1 = 5, 7= 6).
The surprise is to find the melody inverted
     especially to hear it end on degree 5
          of the minor scale rather than on degree 1.
To hear this version click on the music.

This inversion (from degree 1 to degree 5) is not so much the result of the mode as it is the result of the direction of the progression. It is natural and very current for a melody to end on the fifth of the chord (Orbit 1) after a sharpening, ascending progression. This can be verified even in the diatonic MAJOR mode every time we move from the TONIC to the DOMINANT chord.

Sing this version several times - it's worth the effort!
One could also alternate versions 1 and 3, each in its own key,
but both in the same 1-flat Window.
Each one starts on the last note of the other.


4. The chromatic MAJOR mode

                         (Mode 3)
In the key of D major for the same range.
The change from version 3 to version 4
     is the same as that
          from version 1 to version 2.
Still the same scale degree 1 (D),
     as well as 2, 4, 5 (E, G, A).
Scale degree 3 (F#) is sharpened,
     the TONIC chord is major.
Scale degree 7 (C#) is also sharpened,
     the COUNTER chord is also major.
But scale degree 6 (Bb) is the same,
     the DOMINANT chord is minor.
To hear this version click on the music.

This version will be the biggest surprise but the result is really worth it.

     Once you have sung the diatonic MINOR (version 3), you will be used to the direction
          and it's just a question of adding the "major feel".

Sing this version even more often.

One could also alternate version 2 (in F minor) with version 4 (in C major),
     each one starting a semi-tone away from the last note of the other.
Notice that these two Keys belong to the same chromatic swing.
                         Have fun!

Needless to add that discovering the different modal aspects of any melody,
whether it be your own or someone else’s,
will be a precious addition to your capacities of composing and arranging.

There is lots of new material in these modes,
especially if one uses the possibilities of traveling from one to the other.

Don’t forget to see the different Rhythmic aspects, if you have not already done so,
The combinations of rhythmic and modal aspects can give up to 16 different versions.

Those on a Guided tour should click on next in the Navigation Bar below.

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