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date: 13 November 2019

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...

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