Aristotle But it is clear that we are affected in a certain manner, both by many other kinds of music and not least by the melodies of Olympus, for these admittedly make our souls enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is an affection of the character of the soul. - Aristotle, Politics, Book 8, 1340a. (350 B.C.E)
The seven modes Ionian (Major scale) C D E F G A B C TTSTTTS Dorian D E F G A B C D TSTTTST Phrygian E F G A B C D E STTTSTT Lydian F G A B C D E F TTTSTTS Mixolydian G A B C D E F G TTSTTST Aeolian (Minor scale) A B C D E F G A TSTTSTT Locrian B C D E F G A B STTSTTT T=Tone S=Semi-tone
The Ancient Greeks and Emotions Aristotle's Rhetoric Book 2 Anger Mildness Enmity Fear Confidence Shame Shamelessness Benevolence Pity Indignation Envy Emulation Contempt
Ionian mode Ionian (Major scale) C D E F G A B C TTSTTTS Along with the Lydian mode it was considered a 'soft/relaxing' melody for drinking. 'And which are the soft or drinking harmonies? The Ionian, he replied, and the Lydian; they are termed 'relaxed.'' - Plato's Republic Book 3 Examples: Frosty the snowman
Dorian Mode Dorian D E F G A B C D TSTTTST Manly, Brave, warlike. Plato recognised it as being useful. 'I want to have one warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the hour of danger and stern resolve' - Plato's Republic Book 3 Examples: Drunken Sailor, 'Smoke on the water' Deep Purple
Phrygian Mode Phrygian E F G A B C D E STTTSTT Makes one's character peaceful. 'and another to be used by him in times of peace and freedom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity' - Plato's Republic Book 3 Examples: 'Adagio for Strings' by Samuel Barber
Lydian Mode Lydian F G A B C D E F TTTSTTS Like the Ionian mode considered to create a 'soft' 'drinking' melody. Plato saw these modes as useless and indeed harmful to the character of men and women in a civilised society. 'These then, I said, must be banished; even to women who have a character to maintain they are of no use, and much less to men.' - Plato's Republic Book 3 Examples: 'The Simpsons' theme by Danny Elfman
Mixolydian Mode Mixolydian G A B C D E F G TTSTTST Had a sad and mournful effect on one's character. 'but listen to some in a more mournful and restrained state, for instance the mode called Mixolydian' - Aristotle's Politics Book 8 Examples: Sweet Home Alabama by Lynard Skynard
Why did Aristotle and Plato exclude the Aeolian and Locrian mode? Possibly they were out of fashion at that stage as theorised by David Binning Monro in 'The Modes of Ancient Greek music' (London, 1894). Maybe they were just not considered to have a considerable or definable moral influence on one's character like the other modes. The Greek philosophers were hardly musicians themselves so possibly were just unfamiliar with them.
Mixolydian Mode analysed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cyokaj3BJU Mixolydian G A B C D E F G TTSTTST Is a very major sounding scale. The intervals of the major scale are very similar. TTSTTTS The only difference being the intervals between the last two notes. This would contradict Aristotle's assessment of the mixolydian being a sad and 'mournful' piece. If anything we would associate this assessment to a more minor sounding mode like the dorian, phyrigian or aeolian mode. However Plutarch a much later Greek philosopher agreed wholeheartedly with Plato's and Aristotle's assessments of the modes suggesting that certainly some notable people agreed. Evidence for social-constructionism or proof that the modes the Greeks used were indeed interpreted wrongly by the medieval theorists?
Claudio Monteverdi 1567 – 1643 Italian composer, gambist, singer and RC priest. Renaissance music
Madrigal A secular, polyphonic vocal music composition 1605, the 5th book of Madrigals: Cruda Amarilli Shift from prima pratica to seconda pratica
From the preface to Monteverdi’s ‘Scherzi Musicali,’ 1607
Cruda Amarilli Cruda Amarilli Cruda Amarilli che col nome ancora D'amar, ahi lasso, amaramente insegni. Amarilli del candido ligustro, Più candida e più bella, Ma dell'aspido sordo E più sorda e più fera e più fugace. Poi che col dir t'offendo I mi morò tacendo. Cruda Amarilli Cruel Amaryllis, who with your name to love, alas, bitterly you teach. Amaryllis, more than the white privet pure, and more beautiful, but deafer than the asp, and fiercer and more elusive. Since telling I offended you, I shall die in silence.
Opera musical drama 1607 ‘L’Orfeo’ Greek legend of Orpheus Orpheus descends to Hades to bring his dead bride Eurydice back to the living world, but does not succeed... Tu se morta – you are dead...
Word painting in Tu se’ morta Death = slow and somber notes to the deepest abysses = descending melody to see the stars again = ascending melody Tu se' morta, se morta, mia vita ed io respiro, tu se' da me partita, se' da me partita per mai piu, mai piu' non tornare, ed io rimango- no, no, che se i versi alcuna cosa ponno, n'andra sicuro a' piu profondi abissi, e, intenerito il cor del re de l'ombre, meco trarotti a riverder le stelle, o se cia negherammi empio destino, rimarro teco in compagnia di morte. Addio terra, addio cielo, e sole, addio You are dead, you are dead, my dearest, And I breathe, you have left me, You have left me forevermore, Never to return, and I remain- No, no, if my verses have any power, I will go confidently to the deepest abysses, And, having melted the heart of the king of shadows, Will bring you back to me to see the stars again, Or, if pitiless fate denies me this, I will remain with you in the company of death. Farewell earth, farewell sky, and sun, farewell.
Wagner Born 1813, died 1883. German composer, theatre director, and conductor. Known for his operas. Called operas "music dramas".
Works included: Der Ring des Nibelung Tristan Parsifal