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Modal Harmony


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#1 Garkleine

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Posted 05 October 2021 - 10:40

Hi

I am arranging some medieval and renaissance pieces for our recorder group.

I have a basic grasp of western tonal harmony but that doesn't always fit well and so I need some help with modes.

 

Can anyone recommend a book on modal harmony with reference to medieval and renaissance times?

 

Thanks

 

:)


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#2 Hildegard

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Posted 05 October 2021 - 12:32

I may be wrong, but I doubt that you will find any such book (as opposed to books on modal harmony in jazz, of which there are many). Medieval composers did not really think in terms of harmony. They would often start with a pre-existing melody, typically plainchant, to which they would add new melodies, one by one, each forming a new horizontal layer. Harmony would result, but it would not be the foundation of the piece as it often was in later centuries.


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#3 Garkleine

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Posted 05 October 2021 - 16:38

Thank you for your response Hildegard.

I am struggling to find any such material as you have suggested! 

If I may find anything at all useful I shall post about it on here. Thanks gain :)


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#4 zwhe

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Posted 05 October 2021 - 18:46

There are some books on medieval and renaissance polyphony but they are written for academics/music students. It depends on how 'basic' your idea of a basic grasp is?! (Try googling polyphony rather than harmony for information on how music was composed then.)

If you are starting with a single melodic line and trying to write the other parts yourself I think you will find it extremely difficult to reproduce something that sounds authentic. Have you thought about using the material you have and writing your own modern composition using them? You could try looking at composers like Hindemith or Webern for ideas.


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#5 SAXTEACHERUK

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 09:17

Hi!!! :-)

 

If you're still looking for this, I can offer a bit of advice. I don't know any books to recommend though. It depends what you would like to know specifically?


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#6 maggiemay

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 14:35

Hi

I am arranging some medieval and renaissance pieces for our recorder group.

I have a basic grasp of western tonal harmony but that doesn't always fit well and so I need some help with modes.

 

Can anyone recommend a book on modal harmony with reference to medieval and renaissance times?

 

Thanks

 

:)

Wondering how your recorder group project is going, Garkleine. Did you find a book that was useful? 


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#7 dorfmouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:38


I don't know if this would be helpful, but this is an outline of Irish Tradtional Music form, which is highly modal.
Written by a member:

https://thesession.org/members/7960

Some way down is a section called Chord Structure, which describes each mode and its commonly associated chords, which may not be so obvious when you're used to classical harmony. (Let's not mention harmonic progressions as this can open hornets' nests among trad purists!) But maybe could be a starting point for arranging?

My still elemantary experience of playing Irish and medieval/renaissance tunes on the harp is that there is often a similar sound, the harmonies are more open and less altered than in later music, eg not so many 7ths etc. The ancient music of course often has wonderful crunchy dissonances.
Anyway, a good read I think.
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