What’s the difference between “modal music” and “tonal music”?



Asked by: Rohan Morton

Modal music is a type of tonal music that makes use of modes, which are scales different from the basic major and minor keys, whereas tonal music is the name that describes all forms of music organized around a tonal center, also known as a root note.

What is the definition of modal in music?





mode, in music, any of several ways of ordering the notes of a scale according to the intervals they form with the tonic, thus providing a theoretical framework for the melody. A mode is the vocabulary of a melody; it specifies which notes can be used and indicates which have special importance.

How do you know if music is modal?

Answer: First thing is to figure out the tonic. Usually a melody ends on its tonic. At any rate it will often return to it, and will usually “cadence” to it with a V-I chord pair. Less formally, the tonic feels like “home.” Once you know the tonic, you can tell the mode or scale.

What genre is modal music?

Modal jazz is a style of jazz music organized around modes, or musical scales, rather than chord changes.

How is tonal jazz different than modal jazz?

Modal Jazz and Improvisation. The idea behind Modal Jazz is to give the soloist greater freedom and choice when improvising. Tonal harmony restricts the soloist because each chord has a strict function and is inevitably leading to the tonic.

What does tonal mean in music?





tonality, in music, principle of organizing musical compositions around a central note, the tonic. Generally, any Western or non-Western music periodically returning to a central, or focal, tone exhibits tonality.

What makes music tonal?

Tonality (also known as ‘tonal music’) is music that has a tonic – that specific note on which music is the most stable and at rest. In general, tonal music works by establishing a tonic, moving away from it and then returning to it.

What makes a tune modal?

What is it that makes a tune “modal”? Basically it’s tunes that aren’t made up of notes from the major or minor scales, usually they are in the mixolydian(like a major scale with a flatted 7th) or dorian mode (like a minor scale with the 6th raised a half step).

What is the opposite of tonal music?

Tonal music is based around the chord progression. Modal music is organized around melody. It’s the relationship of note to note.

Is jazz a tonal music?

Much jazz is tonal, but “functional tonality in jazz has different properties than that of common-practice classical music.



What makes modal jazz different?

The term “modal jazz” refers to improvisational music that is organized in a scalar (“horizontal”) way rather than in a chordal (“vertical”) manner. By de-emphasizing the role of chords, a modal approach forces the improviser to create interest by other means: melody, rhythm, timbre, and emotion.

What does modal jazz sound like?


FSM. So the way Herbie Hancock is playing this is first just playing it completely inside the C minor sound and then moving it around inside the sound and then he starts shifting it.

What does it mean to play modal?

Modal jazz is jazz that makes use of musical modes often modulating among them to accompany the chords instead of relying on one tonal center used across the piece.



How do you play modal music?

When you're writing chord changes that borrow from the different parallel modes. Then you call that modal mixer or modal interchange.

What is a modal chord?

A borrowed chord (also called mode mixture, modal mixture, substituted chord, modal interchange, or mutation) is a chord borrowed from the parallel key (minor or major scale with the same tonic).

Is modal jazz hard bop?

III. Modal Jazz. Miles Davis’ 1959 release, Kind of Blue; it featured simple melodies and modal harmony, reflecting both cool emotion and hard edge haunted Hard Bop timbres. It became and remains the best selling jazz album of all time.

What is the difference between bebop and modal jazz?

b. In bebop, cool, and hard bop, the chords change very quickly; in modal jazz, on the other hand, the modes (the musical scales to be used for improvisation) change very slowly, often just once or twice in a chorus.



Is Giant Steps modal jazz?

Ironically, just as Coltrane was reaching a height of chordal complexity in “Giant Steps,” Davis was pursuing simplification through what is called modal organization of music, a system in which compositions are based on scales (often called modes), not chords.