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Modal key signatures

Moderator: Michael Good

Modal key signatures

Postby Michael Good » Thu Nov 14, 2002 1:53 pm

Since there are several people with folk music experience on this list:

We're doing some notation of modal folk music for the first time, and ran into a question about key signatures.

If we have a tune in F mixolydian (tonic is F, scale includes B-flat and E-flat), what key signature would you use for this? One flat (as if it were F major) or two flats (as in the scale degrees)?

I would think two flats, and our MusicXML definition of modes works accordingly. But the public domain source we are using uses one flat, so I am wondering if common practice for this is different than our expectations.

Thanks, Michael
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Re: Modal key signatures

Postby Philip Taylor » Thu Nov 14, 2002 5:02 pm

Hi Michael,

Michael Good wrote:If we have a tune in F mixolydian (tonic is F, scale includes B-flat and E-flat), what key signature would you use for this? One flat (as if it were F major) or two flats (as in the scale degrees)?

I would think two flats, and our MusicXML definition of modes works accordingly. But the public domain source we are using uses one flat, so I am wondering if common practice for this is different than our expectations.

Two flats is correct.

Here is the complete mode table:

Key Sig Major Minor Mix Dor Phr Lyd Loc
Ionian Aeolian

7 sharps: C# A#m G#Mix D#Dor E#Phr F#Lyd B#Loc 6 sharps: F# D#m C#Mix G#Dor A#Phr BLyd E#Loc 5 sharps: B G#m F#Mix C#Dor D#Phr ELyd A#Loc 4 sharps: E C#m BMix F#Dor G#Phr ALyd D#Loc 3 sharps: A F#m EMix BDor C#Phr DLyd G#Loc 2 sharps: D Bm AMix EDor F#Phr GLyd C#Loc 1 sharp : G Em DMix ADor BPhr CLyd F#Loc 0 sharps: C Am GMix DDor EPhr FLyd BLoc 1 flat : F Dm CMix GDor APhr BbLyd ELoc 2 flats : Bb Gm FMix CDor DPhr EbLyd ALoc 3 flats : Eb Cm BbMix FDor GPhr AbLyd DLoc 4 flats : Ab Fm EbMix BbDor CPhr DbLyd GLoc 5 flats : Db Bbm AbMix EbDor FPhr GbLyd CLoc 6 flats : Gb Ebm DbMix AbDor BbPhr CbLyd FLoc 7 flats : Cb Abm GbMix DbDor EbPhr FbLyd BbLoc

Hope this helps.

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