Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 14 April 2021

Mode (from Lat. modus: ‘measure’, ‘standard’ ; ‘manner’, ‘way’)locked

  • Harold S. Powers,
  • Frans Wiering,
  • James Porter,
  • James Cowdery,
  • Richard Widdess,
  • Ruth Davis,
  • Marc Perlman,
  • Stephen Jones
  •  and Allan Marett


(from Lat. modus: ‘measure’‘standard’ ‘manner’‘way’)

A term in Western music theory with three main applications, all connected with the above meanings of modus: the relationship between the note values longa and brevis in late medieval notation; interval, in early medieval theory; and, most significantly, a concept involving scale type and melody type. The term ‘mode’ has always been used to designate classes of melodies, and since the 20th century to designate certain kinds of norm or model for composition or improvisation as well. Certain phenomena in folksong and in non-Western music are related to this last meaning, and are discussed below in §§IV and V. The word is also used in acoustical parlance to denote a particular pattern of vibrations in which a system can oscillate in a stable way; see Sound, §5, (ii). For a discussion of mode in relation to ancient Greek theory see Greece, §I, 6.

Harold S. Powers, revised by Frans Wiering...

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.

Perspectives of New Music
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart
Journal of Music Theory
Berkeley, University of California at Berkeley, Music Library
Die Musikforschung
Le choeur des muses
A. Lavignac and L. de La Laurencie, eds.: Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire
Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale Albert 1er/Koninlijke Bibliotheek Albert I, Section de la Musique
Revue de musicologie
The New Oxford History of Music (Oxford, 1954-90)
Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek
Regensburg, Bischöfliche Zentralbibliothek, Proske-Musikbibliothek
Music Review
Early Music History
Leipzig, Karl-Marx-Universität, Universitätsbibliothek, Bibliotheca Albertina
International Musicological Society: Congress Report [1930-]
Kassel, Gesamthochschul-Bibliothek, Landesbibliothek und Murhardsche Bibliothek, Musiksammlung
Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie
M. Gerbert: Scriptores ecclesiastici de musica sacra potissimum (St Blasien, 1784/R, 3/1931)
Porto, Biblioteca Pública Municipal
Musica disciplina
Archiv für Musikwissenschaft
Journal of Musicological Research
C.-E.-H. de Coussemaker: Scriptorum de musica medii aevi nova series (Paris, 1864-76/R, 2/1908, ed. U. Moser)
Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council
Journal of the Folk-Song Society
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Early Music
Journal of the Royal Musical Association
Lugo, Biblioteca Comunale Fabrizio Trisi
Studia musicologica Academiae scientiarum hungaricae
Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Gesellschaft für Musikforschung: Kongress-Bericht [1950-]
Papers of the American Musicological Society
Journal of Musicology
W.H. Frere, ed.: Antiphonale sarisburiense (London, 1901-25/R)
Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft
Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse muziekgeschiedenis [and earlier variants]
Current Musicology
Asian Music
Etudes grégoriennes
Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch
Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Acta musicologica
Corpus scriptorum de musica (Rome, later Stuttgart, 1950-)
Music & Letters
Musical Quarterly
Journal of the International Folk Music Council
Corpus mensurabilis musicae