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Re: NR 2.6.2 Bagpipes

From: Hans Aberg
Subject: Re: NR 2.6.2 Bagpipes
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2013 11:18:59 +0200

On 9 Oct 2013, at 01:32, Sven Axelsson <address@hidden> wrote:

> The manual uses "nominally D major (even though that isn’t really true)". 
> Maybe a better way of putting it is similar to Wikipedia:  "Bagpipe music is 
> written in the key of D major with the key signature usually omitted from 
> scores". The mixolydian modus may be of historical interest, but most players 
> have no idea of what that is.

Jack Campin has page on it, and he mentions mixolydian:

The mixolydian mode is important, because it derives from the Middle Ages, and 
persisted in Western music on a parallel track on the development of the CPP 
(Common Practise Period) major/minor tonality. Cf. 

So as for the GHB tuning, I think it would be good to call it A mixolydian, 
since A is the tuning note, and because it indicates that Scottish music isn't 
CPP music.

As for the notation, A mixolydian has the same notes as D major, but is a 
different mode: different notes being important. Most notably, A mixolydian 
mode has a finalis, or finishing note at A. The D major has a tonic at D, which 
might act as a finalis, but need not be: it is enforced by a D major chord. 
(For example, Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife" might be finished with a C major 
chord, but its final note is an A.)

So if a GHB tune ends with the note A, then it is in A mixolydian, but the 
omitted key signature will be the same as that of the D major scale, because 
they have the same notes. In the historical past, the use of key signatures 
have been more arbitrary, so it in itself need not indicate anything about what 
mode the music is in.

So let's try to extract correct formulation from this long explanation:

GHB music is typically written without a key signature, using the A mixolydian 
notes it has, which are same same as that of the D major scale. So if a key 
signature is written out, it will be the same as those scales: C# and F#.

> Since "bagpipe.ly" contains a lot more for notation than what is included in 
> the manual, perhaps we should direct people to look directly at the file for 
> reference?

Or perhaps expand the section.

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