Standardizing the Naming of Seven Note Modes

Standardizing the Naming of Seven Note Modes

This spring I wrote my thesis for my master’s of arts in composition. Much of the music I discussed used synthetic modes with no previous nomenclature, and I could not find an established, nor even existing, way of naming synthetic scales. There are well-known names for common practice modes (e.g., major or harmonic minor), the traditional church modes (e.g., Dorian or Phrygian), and a handful of synthetic scales (e.g., overtone or Neapolitan minor). The most universal way to define an arbitrary mode might be to use pitch class set notation, yet pitch class set notation is both cumbersome to use in prose and, by definition, an unordered collection that would not imply a tonic.

For my thesis, I adopted a naming convention for seven-note modes that combines descriptive names (sometimes shortened) for each of the two tetrachords that comprise the mode.

Russian Music Theory

Russian Music Theory

Roughly 50 years after some of Stravinsky’s most influential works, Arthur Berger published his paper “Problems of Pitch Organization in Stravinsky
.” There he attempted to define a new theory about Stravinsky’s music and, in the process, coined the term “octatonic.” In contrast, in as early as 1906 Russian music theorist Boleslav Yavorsky (1877–1942) was documenting theories that would influence modern Russian music theory and would be applicable to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev.

Write Like Mozart Closing Notes – Composing Tools

Write Like Mozart Closing Notes – Composing Tools

Below is the last (and perhaps most lengthy) of my Write Like Mozart Notes that I sent my students when we took the Write Like Mozart class together in 2014.  The Write Like Mozart class is online again, starting today (April 11, 2016).

In this installment, I review the composing tools we have learned from the Write Like Mozart class and offer some thoughts and examples of how to develop material.

This is the tenth and final post in this series.

Write Like Mozart Week 5 Notes – Two-Part Counterpoint

Write Like Mozart Week 5 Notes – Two-Part Counterpoint

Just over a year ago I was posting notes I sent my high school students in 2014 while we were taking the free online class called Write Like Mozart.  My Master’s in Composition studies took over my life, and I did not finish composing the last two postings of my notes. A reader alerted me that the course is being offered again starting next week (April 11, 2016). That there exists at least one reader interested in these notes inspires me to complete my postings on this subject!

My first post for Write Like Mozart Week 5 covered chromatic chord substitutions. This is the second post on Write Like Mozart Week 5 Notes, and here I cover Professor Edwards’ discussion of two-part counterpoint.