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date: 17 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay traces the development of “mode” in Western music from the early Greeks, through the transmission of Greek theory by Roman writers, the adaptation in the Middle Ages of aspects of this system for purposes of organizing liturgical chant, the changes made by Renaissance theorists to accommodate polyphonic composition, and the seventeenth-century transformation of modal practices into tonal procedures, to various uses of church modes in Bach, Beethoven, Grieg, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, the folk revival, jazz, and heavy metal. The author distinguishes modes from scales and psalm tones, explains differences between pairs such as Dorian and Aeolian, and argues for a practice-based approach to the concept.

Keywords: diapente, leading tones, liturgical chant, mode, mode-bearing voice, musica ficta, psalm tones, Romanesca, scale, species

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