RELATIVE MODES - How C Major and A Minor are Same but Different

Please use headphones or good speakers for this. It won't "work" if you're listening on your phone (you need bass!) This video demonstrates all 7 relative modes of the major scale, and how simply changing the tonal center can create modal harmony. Combine this perspective with this video https://youtu.be/bwaeBUYcO5o and you'll have two different but effective ways to think about modes. 


Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors. However, I do hope you find it helpful. Be sure to check out The Ultimate Modal Poster!

This is a random selection of notes from the c major scale and it will remain unchanged throughout this entire short video.

Now, if you are asked what key is this in you might understandably say C major but the notes of C major are the same as the notes of a minor.

So why isn't this in the key of A minor in actuality that question is not that fair to begin with we're really not given the whole picture here.

It's almost as if I asked you whether this is a lowercase l or a capital i it could be either or given the context and here we have no context for this random sequence of notes. There is no tonal center that is to say a note that everything revolves around now, you still might be getting a major impression off of this it might feel bright and happy to you but we could change that very quickly just by introducing a tonal Center that isn't see for example, we could make this sound and feel like minor and to do that. All we need to do is to shift the tonal Center to a by adding in lots and Lots of a I'll bring in a on the base and I'll also build a Triad off of a using the notes of C major that will give me an A minor chord.

So by surrounding this sequence with lots of a it should be enough for our brains to think of a is the tonal Center the home note of this sequence and then this sequence will feel and sound like minor ready and That's a pretty dramatic sound, especially if you were feeling and hearing the sequences major before so if we were asked the question, what key is that section in the answer would unequivocally be a minor.

But once again now without a tonal Center we are left again hearing something ambiguous or vaguely major so by shifting our tonal Center to the 6th note we were able to make this minor but we could also make any of these notes are new tonal Center.

The fourth for example is f so if I built a I had off of f i get F major and surrounding this sequence with f on the base and an F major chord will give me athlete Ian since I'm using the notes of see the treating the fourth tone as my route.

This should radically change the way we are hearing the same sequence engaging lydian now, so that sounds glorious and our original sequence now feels completely transformed.

And from being ambiguous to having that classic weird and inspiring lydian tonality.

You can hear that the notes of the scale don't mean a lot all on their own without a tonal Center and just by changing that tonal Center we can access all the colors of the modes.

So since we're already here, let's listen to the same transformative effect with the remaining modes. The second mode is Dorian. So by playing the notes of c and using the second note D as the tonal Center we should get a Dorian sound which I think of as minor but less dark. More adventurous.

Once again, I'll build a Triad off of our new tonal Center which will give me a D minor chord and this will also be played in the background.

The third mode is phrygian. So by staying in C, but treating the third tone e as our tonal Center, we should achieve a phrygian sound which in my opinion is a very dark and exotic feeling.

The fifth mode is mixolydian.

So our new tonal Center will be G mixolydian to me feels bright like major, but less happy and more energetic and cool.

And now locrian the 7th mode of major.

Our tonal Center is now be and building a Triad off of that tone using the notes of C will give me a b diminished Triad. So our Focus will be a bee and will be surrounded by a diminished chord locrian in my opinion is very unstable and difficult to write anything melodic with but it can't have a great Sinister and unsettling effect.

This whole time we were supposed to be in just regular C major. So lastly, let's listen to that by putting a c in the base and a C major Triad behind it.

So if we are only thinking of keys by just counting up the notes in them. We're kind of missing out on the possibilities of modal Harmony as demonstrated here a simple Melody can be transformed in a whole new way simply by changing the tonal Center understanding the tonal Center is also an important concept to writing modal music and if you were ever just wondering what's the difference between C major and a minor hopefully this video clears things up for you.

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