As a creative jazz musician and performer, my earlier studies in music were devoted to modes. When I first studied the modes, I learned them in a mechanical manner. Harmony class did not discuss the type of feeling quality the various modes could produce. I knew theoretically the difference between each mode and could distinguish sound differentials between the major and minor modes but I did not play the modes from my heart.
I started to get more in touch with my feelings when I studied art. At the same time that I explored myself with art, the way I felt about music started to change. I began to compose more, writing very differently than ever before.
The compositions I began to write were derived from certain feelings I had been experiencing and were not merely exercises in counterpoint. I came back to the modes and began to relate the moods and feelings I had to the diatonic major modes. I had found that different modes were clearly more suitable for certain moods than others. I then began to experiment with the diatonic modes derived from the melodic and harmonic minor scales, symmetrical diminished and pentatonic scales.
***The greatest number of flats that can be applied to a modal scale on a particular tone will produce the “darkest” mode, the Locrian. Subtracting flats (and then adding sharps) in diatonic signature order will produce an arrangement of modes from “darkest” to “brightest”. The Dorian mode is in the middle point and sets the norm. Within this related order a flexible set of modes is at the music therapist’s disposal, and definite control of these scale formations with their inherent qualities is possible.
For more information on my Music Therapy, please check out ModalMoods.