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Re: [ARSCLIST] Temperament--was: Are we at the end of the road musically??

On 14/10/06, Steven C. Barr(x) wrote:
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Don Cox" <doncox@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>> A mode is a set of scales  which share the same pattern of
>> tone-and-semitone steps, while starting on different notes.
> But how many modes were there?

The number of possible modes using seven notes selected from 12 is a
"combination" and is found by

12! / (7!) (5!) which is 792 according to my calculator.

But most are not used. You could perhaps make some interesting music
with a mode such as SSTTTTT.

(Indian musicians do use hundreds of ragas, which are roughly equivalent
to modes.)

There seem to have been seven Greek modes, named after various tribes. 

However it seems unlikely that either the Ancient Greeks or the Medieval
theorists who tried to follow them had a clear idea of what the
scales/modes were about in terms of absolute pitch. They are more the
typical tunings for songs from those tribes.

(There is no way to standardise pitch until the state standardises
weights and measures, so that something like a pitch pipe can be made to
a standard length. In older cultures, the inch is a different length in
each city.)
> The name that always fascinated me was "Myxolydian..."

One of the tribes.

This guy has some thoughts:

Remember that other cultures may use 5-note, 17-note or whatever scales.
Everything is arbitrary except the octave and possibly the most obvious

Don Cox

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