Three Native American flute modes

A look at three of the different
modes, or scales, that can be played on the NAF


Please support these articles with your purchases
Native American flute music by Scott August
Sacred Dreams
Native American flute music by Scott August
Ancient Light
Lost Canyons
DISTANT SPIRITS
SACRED DREAMS
NEW FIRE
ANCIENT LIGHT
LOST CANYONS

LISTEN NOW!

LISTEN NOW!

LISTEN NOW!

WATCH NOW!

LISTEN NOW!

Native Amercian Flute Scales and modes Part 2
by Scott August


THE MODES
In the previous section we looked at how major scales are made up of a sequence of whole and half steps. That every major scale has a half step between notes 3 - 4 and 7 - 8. If you move the root note you need to also move the sequence. That while a major diatonic scale based on the note C has no sharps or flats, if you move the root note to D both the F and C notes have to be sharp for the sequence to be correct.

But what would happen if we played the notes from D to D but this time we played just the white keys -the notes that make up the C major scale? This would force the sequence of whole and half steps to change and in doing so would construct a completely different scale. Scales that are made up like this, using the notes of a major diatonic scale but starting on a note other than the root, are called modes. Modes are nothing more than a variation of the sequence of whole and half steps.

Let's look at this closer.

Dorian-Scale.jpg

We're still using the same notes from the C major scale but because this version starts on D the sequence of whole and half steps is altered. The half steps now fall between notes 2 & 3 and the 6 & 7. When the sequence of whole notes and half notes follows this pattern the resulting scale is called the dorian mode.

Remember a mode uses the notes of a major diatonic scale but starts on a different note.

Here's another example of a dorian scale. Using the notes from the D major diatonic scale but starting and ending on E, a whole step above.

E-dorian.jpg

In the section on major scales we saw that D major had two sharps: F# and C#. This is also true with the dorian mode that starts on the note E. This is because E is the second note of the D major scale or Ionian mode and as we now know a scale that starts on the second note of a major scale, but using the same pitches is a dorian scale. Once again the half steps fall into place between 2 - 3 and 6 - 7.

A SHORTCUT
So one of the easiest ways to find a dorian scale is to take a major scale but play it using the secone note (the 2nd) as the new root.

OTHER MODES
The other modes are found by starting on different notes of the major diatonic scale. If we start on the third note of a major scale that would be called the Phrygian mode. Starting on the 4th would be the Lydian mode; on the 5th would be the Mixolydian mode; on the 6th the Aeolian mode and on the 7th the Locrian mode.

In every mode the half steps have moved. For example in the Aeolian, also known as the natural minor scale, the half steps fall between the notes 2 - 3 and 5 - 6 of the scale. This placement of half steps, as in all of the modes, is what gives each it's unique sound.

STARTING NOTES
We won't get into this here but sometimes you'll hear musicians describe the scale of a piece of music in a way that sounds very odd. Like "D Mixolydian" or "G# Dorian." Simply put the first letter is the note that the scale starts on and the mode name describes the sequence of whole and half steps between each note As we've just seen each mode places it's intervals in a specific order and it is this order that defines the mode and gives it it's name.

LET'S REVIEW
The major scale has seven modes. These modes are based on the intervals from the root that they start on or are based on and where their half steps lie.

Starting interval

Is called this mode

Half Step between...

The root
The second
The third
The fourth
The fifth
The sixth
The seventh

=
=
=
=
=
=
=

Ionian
Dorian
Phrygian
Lydian
Mixolydian
Aeolian
Locrian

3 - 4,
2 - 3,
1 - 2,
4 - 5,
3 - 4,
2 - 3,
1 - 2,

7 - 8
6 - 7
5 - 6
7 - 8
6 - 7
5 - 6
4 - 5

In the next section we're going to look at the Native American flute and it's scale, the minor pentatonic.

 

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES
How to Buy a NAF, part 1
How to Buy a NAF, part 2
How to care for your NAF
Playing your first NAF scale
Strengthening your Fingers
Playing from the Heart Part-1
Playing from the Heart Part-2
NEW Recording your NAF, basic, easy Home Studio set up
NEW Starting your Own Music Label part 1

You can find an index of all the articles including maker and flute profiles HERE

DO YOU NEED A FLUTE?
Visit the
Cedar Mesa Music Store. Members of my E-Mailing list get a 10% discount on all flutes we sell.

You can also find a list of makers who's flutes I play on my web site.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN FLUTE
NAF History and Construction


Please support these articles with your purchases

Native American flute music by Scott August
Sacred Dreams
Native American flute music by Scott August
Ancient Light
Lost Canyons
DISTANT SPIRITS
Nominee Native American
Music Award



SACRED DREAMS
Winner! Native American
Music Award



NEW FIRE
Nominee
Native American
Music Award

Winner!
Indian Summer Music Award
ANCIENT LIGHT
DVD
The Music and Images
of
Scott August



LOST CANYONS
Echoes Radio
"CD of the Month"
Dec 2007

LISTEN

LISTEN

LISTEN

WATCH

LISTEN NOW!

Listen to samples and purchase them online.
Members of my
E-Mailing list get an extra 10% off all online purchases.

© 2008 Cedar Mesa Music. All rights reserved.


Top

Home | Mailing List

About

Recordings

Purchase

Reviews

News

Photos

More Stuff

Appearances

Mailing List

Contact

Articles

 

Recordings
by
Scott August

Ancient Light