The Modes were the basis of must music written before the advent of tempered tuning and the major-minor system. From the earliest known church music and folk music through to the music of Palestrina and Byrd in the sixteenth century, modal scales were the basis of composition. There are even traces of Modal influences in the music of the Baroque composers, Bach and Handel, and they occur as scalic sections in the music of Mozart and Beethoven.
With tempered tuning came an increased use of chromaticism and the gradual loss of modal sounds. It was not until the chromatic system had been fully explored at the end of the nineteenth century that composers began to look back to the Modes as an alternative method of composition. Debussy in particular not only used Modal sounds but also the Pentatonic scale and Whole-Tone scale sounds demonstrated in this collection.
From the Twentieth Century onward music in the New Age, Ambient and Contemporary genres, along with Jazz, Rock, and Heavy Metal styles of music has frequently displayed modal influences.
1. The Albino Koala
This piece is written as a CANON. A canon is a two-part polyphonic device which is formed when one melody imitates another at a distance. Canons are also known as 'rounds'.
This canon begins with the bass part imitating the treble part at the distance of four quarter notes and reverses the process in the middle.
To read without bar lines take the quarter note as a beat note and make sure you play the notes exactly as spaced on the music.
In this piece, the Dorian Mode is used in its original form, this is as a white note scale beginning on D.
Note the use of the open hand position over the distance of an octave in the first half of the melody line and the close five-finger hand position in the second half. To learn the piece quickly, block out these two positions.
2. The Koala-A Tree Dweller
The piece suggests the Koala climbing to different parts of the tree. Beginning in the middle, he explores the nether regions and then climbs to the top of the tree where the juciest leaves are to be found.
Once you have learnt the first eight bars, you will find that the melody line is the same in the next two eight-bar sections. Simply change registers and repeat. When changing positions, try to feel the hand position movement, allowing each hand to help the other feel the next interval, rather than looking at the hands on the keyboard.
A second person may play this piece as a Canon in a different octave, or on another instrument beginning either on bar two or three.
3. The Swamp Rat
Before playing this piece, play the Mode as a two-octave scale with both hands. Note the pattern of black and white notes on the keyboard, and when playing the piece think of the notes as moving around the pattern.
The left hand notes should be played as block chord shapes before playing as written.
Note that in the second section of the piece, the Right hand is played an octave higher, (8va . Listen to the varied effect this gives the piece.
4. The Noisy Bush 1 and 2
Part 1. When Learning this piece, pick out the very top line, to be played on its own and then do the same with the bottom line. Notice they have the same notes asn octave apart. Next play the middle clusters through and the fuse all the parts together.
Part 2. Play the arpeggio then begin on the five-note groups very slowly, picking up speed gradually. The number of repeats suggested is a guide only. The performer may shorten or lengthen each group or add new groups based on the pentatonic scale given. Keep one group going while the other hand is changing to the next group. The finger action should be light and the pedal changed occasionally. These two pieces can be performed separately or in ABA Form.
5. Pretty Faced Wallaby
This piece is an excellent vehicle for the study of syncopation. It sounds equally well at either a moderate of fast speed. Try to achieve a contrast between the hoping effect of the first section and the gliding effects in the middle section.
6. The Tasmanian Devil
This piece is constructed according to the rules of the serial composition, which Arnold Schonberg, 1874-1951, devised in the early Twentieth Century.
The twelve tones of the chromatic scale are taken at random and then placed in a 'row', which can be used forwards, backwards, inverted, or inverted backwards. Most pieces written serially display wide use of angular intervals and try to avoid ordinary chord sequences.
Play the chord analysis below prior to starting this piece.
When approaching the music, play the first chord in each bar, then move both hands on the second beat of the bar, having played beats three and four, move the hands back on beat five to the position of the chord.
Hint: The notes of the leger lines are in fact exactly two octaves from the left hand notes. Pedal carefully to sustain the sounds while the hands are moving.
8. Kangaroos at the Water Hole
A short piece, depicting Kangaroos, as they go to drink water from the water hole. The piece is composed in Lydian Mode, commencing on an F.
9. The Ring Tail 'Possum
This piece is-based upon Unison figurs at the distance of three octaves.
The changing time-signatures should flow from one to the another quite smoothly.
The piece was inspired by the jazz-pianist, Oscar Peterson, and is intended to convey the idea of 'possums scurrying about.
10. Riverside Scene
This piece is a chord and pedal study, based around Lydian Mode, Commencing on C.
11. The Rare New-Holland Mouse
This is a study in staccato and syncopation. Try to keep all the sixteenth notes very tight. Notice that the melody lies in the Bass Part for the first six bars of each half.
12. The Wombat
This is a canon with variations. Note the changing registers and the different effects these create.
13.The Squirrel Glider
This is a piece depicting the squirrel glider, as he glides from tree to tree top. The piece is in Dorian Mode in its natural form, D-D.
The Time signature is in 7/8, and two different counting groups are used"
a) 2-3-3 and b) 3-2-2
14. The Spiny Ant-Eater
This is another serial composition. The repeated sections may be played as many times as the performer wishes. The piece also uses chord clusters
15.The Mountain Pygmy Possum
This piece is composed in the mode of Aeolian, commencing on D.
The melody is in the bass clef, whilst over the top a shimmering array of arpeggios are used to explore the colour of the mode.
16.The Short Nosed Bandicoot
This piece is in 5/4 time. It is not grouped the same throughout. Make the quarter note ( crotchet ) the beat and place the smaller value notes accordingly.
The answering part in the canon begins at the distance of five crotchet beats, but it is brought closer to the distance of three beats at bar six.
17. The Grey Kangaroo
This piece is a study in syncopation in triple time. Note the use of the modal chords. The idea of 'bouncing kangaroos' can be brought out by the answering themes, and by the jagged effects of the syncopation.
18. The Great Glider-'Possum
This piece is written without bar lines, take the quarter note-as the beat and play each unit accordingly. Try to achieve a smooth gliding sensation in your interpretation of this piece.
19. The Red Kangaroo
The accents in this piece of music in 7/8 time are placed on the sub-groups of 2-2-3. However, as the pattern is over two bars and is tied across the bar line, it differs from the sound of the usual 2-2-3 grouping. Note also the use of the thirds and fifths in the left hand part.
20. The Emu
The Locrian Mode
Prior the sixteenth century, the theory and practice of Modal music did not recognise this Mode as a separate scale. It was not until the Swiss theorist Henricus Glareanus, also known as "Glarean ( 1488-1563),modified the old theory of Ecclesiastical Modes in his treatise Dodecahordon ( Twelve Modes or Twelve Keys ), that the Mode was at the least recognised, although it was dismissed as being impractical owing to the interval of a Diminished Fifth between the Finalis ( Tonic ) and the Dominant
By the 1570's, the Modes were recognised so that the Ionian Mode ( Major Scale ) was numbered as 1 and the other six followed in the sequence in which we know them today, although in practice the Locrian Mode was still not used, by the composers of Modal Music.
However, since the beginning of the Twentieth Century the Mode has become a favourite of many jazz musicians, who overcame the problem of finality by altering the final chord to a Major or Minor Chord. It is also very useful as a scale for improvising over the half diminished seventh chord ( Minor Seventh, flattened fifth), in chord sequences such as I, ii, vii, in a Major Key.