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Re: Key signatures in modes other than Ionian & Aeolian

From: Hans Åberg
Subject: Re: Key signatures in modes other than Ionian & Aeolian
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 00:16:32 +0200

> On 16 Apr 2018, at 21:18, Peter Crighton <address@hidden> wrote:
> I am transcribing a song in D Mixolydian and am wondering which key signature 
> to notate it in – d \mixolydian (because that is the mode it is in) or d 
> \major (because a D major chord clearly is the tonic of the song). I’d rather 
> notate it in d \mixolydian, which seems correct to me, but might it be easier 
> to read (especially for non-professional musicians) in d \major just with a 
> natural sign before every 
> What is everyone doing in such a case? Any experiences which is easier to 
> read? Also, could the style of music matter? In Early Music I’d be even more 
> inclined to notate in d \mixolydian, but in this case it is a pop song where 
> people might only expect to see major or minor keys.

Strictly, the key signature is there to simplify notation, so any way you 
prefer is possible. However, non-standard key signatures even with microtonal 
accidentals are used in Turkish and Persian music, and in Turkish music it is 
further common to write the name of the makam (that is, the mode) over the key 

So if you think there might be confusion, you might write the name of the mode 
over or under the key signature.

In early music, one used musica ficta, or not notated accidentals, that may 
further be variable in interpretation, cf. [1], Hildebrandslied and Czart lip, 
which complicates modern notation further. 

This is also the case in GHB (Great Highland Bagpipe) scores which are in 
mixolydian, but to do not write it out. I prefer to write it though. Also here, 
a tune that is in mixolydian on GHB may be in major on other instruments, like 


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