Style - the modal system


The style of music that I compose is a lot like modal jazz, maybe more like “modal orchestra”. I do not modulate, much like the Jazz styles. I like to stay in a key and modal around that key. So what is modal music? I actually teach it. Modes actually originated back in the Renaissance Period. The creation of the modes were actually to create moods in music especially during the Christian calendar. Meaning during Christmas happy modes were used, in the crucifixion more of the sad modes were used in music. Jazz would later use the modes to create modulation in a new way that would change the music world. There are seven modes in each key and each mode bring out a different mood. So Ionian is the first mode which is very happy, excited and is also known as the Major scale. Aleoan is the minor mode which is very sad and is also known as the minor scale. A lot of Spanish music uses the Phrygian mode which is your fire, romantic mode. This is also my favorite and I have to admit I probably abuse this mode more than the others. In the beginning I was writing more in an orchestration feel with melodies in a modal system. I was also keeping it clean and neat, which in return gave you a very harmonic sound that sounds great. I could arrange a chord progression in a key and modal around the chord progression to create the mood. A perfect example of this is the song, “Anywhere with you” which is written in D Major, the first mode I use is Phrygian which give it a romantic Spanish sound. Then I move to Mixolydian. Mixolydian is used a lot in Jazz. The nice thing about Mixolydian is that it is a Major scale with a minor seventh. So it is a soft Major scale. It is probably the only major scale that give you a bluesy sound without going into a minor scale. When I go into the chorus the song changes from minor to major and so does the melody, which also changes to Ionian which makes the song feel happier. For years I experimented with the modal sounds. One of my favorite artist who also used the modes in a unique way was Miles Davis.

After the 5th CD Creation I decided that I was through with following the rules of music. To be honest there really is no rules. Just the ones that I believed in that would guarantee a beautiful sound. What if I push the envelope of music? Would my audience still like it? And how far can I push the sound before it becomes noise, or just not good sounding. I started experimenting with Trinity, not a lot but some of the songs pushed the envelope of traditional sounds. It wasn’t until “A New Age in Jazz” that I went to the other side of music. Still keeping my style in a modal base style but adding more sounds, adding more samples and sampling different sound to create music. I also wanted to add vocals, not traditional vocals but sounds and choir giving the instrumental music some different colors and movements. Jazz always pushed that envelope of changing keys and playing out of key to create an effect. How far can I go before it becomes unreasonable?

I have always been a fan of atonal music and studied the theory behind it. I even wrote a symphony in an atonal style while I was in college. The problem with atonal music is that was never popular. Actually most people have no clue about this style of music, it is very mathematical. I will eventually write in this style and try to keep it somewhat “likeable” to my audience, knowing that it is something really different.

Thanks for listening.

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