Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford 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 and Legal Notice).

date: 01 March 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.

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