Author Topic: Modes, scales, contrasts challenge  (Read 2453 times)

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Modes, scales, contrasts challenge
« on: August 14, 2011, 11:52:22 AM »
Here's a though I've been toying with for a bit.

How about the use of a particular mode for the harmony, but a contrasting mode for the melody?

What got me thinking about this was my recent use of classical Japanese modes as the basis for a lot of the material in one of my works.

I was imagining the use of one of these rather particular modes (for example, Hirajoshi, or Hungarian, or even octatonic) as the basis for the harmony, while the melody itself remained perfectly diatonic (major or minor).

A work for children that I particularly love is called " Un tas de petites choses" (a bunch of little things) by French composer Andé Caplet.
What is particular and amusing about this work, is that the child's part is entirely written using ONLY the notes C, D, E, F, G... no accidentals. Just the white notes, within the limits of a single perfect 5th.

meanwhile, the accompaniment (it is a 4-hand piano piece) modulates wildly (and I mean WILDLY) to far flung corners of the harmonic world.

The entire piece is wonderfully tonal, yet a bit "spicy". Nothing to scare off a child learning to play piano, but enough to stretch the youngster's ears a bit.

So how about this as a small "challenge":

Write a brief piece (or even nothing more than an extended phrase) for a single solo instrument, with piano accompaniment, which explores without becoming TOO dissonant, a contrast between two seemingly contradictory modes.

1) oboe and piano, oboe part in C major, piano in octatonic.
2) violin and piano, violin in melodic Hungarian mode, piano in perfect diatonic harmony.
3) flute and piano, flute in Hirajoshi mode, piano in whole-tone (I know, this one is a stretch!)

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Re: Modes, scales, contrasts challenge
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2011, 02:27:13 PM »
Okay, here goes. Thanks for giving me something interesting to do on a Sunday afternoon.

The piano is written in C major, though it does do a bit of exploring through other keys briefly.

The oboe is written in the whole-tone scale. Actually, I use both scales in contrasting bits.

I deliberately made the two melodies out of sync with each other.

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Re: Modes, scales, contrasts challenge
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2011, 06:34:59 PM »
Here's my attempt.  Sort of a bad bolero.  Couldn't hold a candle to Victor.

Cheated a bit a ms. 15, as both melody and accompaniment are in the same mode.  Couldn't resist.  The melody is Bartok's-- from a Romanian dance.

The melody's in 3/4, and accompaniment in 4/4.  Too tired to do the math in Sibelius, so all lumped under one time signature.

Thanks for making me work, Michel.  Keep em coming!


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« Last Edit: October 25, 2011, 06:37:55 PM by johnc »