Key signature for modal music?

(5 posts)

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  1. arewolfe
    Member

    This is a fairly trivial question, but I've been curious about it for a long time: When you guys write out a chart for a modal piece of music, what do you write in the key signature?

    For example: In E Mixolydian ...does it make sense at all to use 3 sharps in the key signature (since E mixo would have the same amount of sharps as A Ionian)?

    I know if I saw 3 sharps in a key signature and someone told me it was because the music was in E mixo I'd be caught off guard. But taking a glance at it from a writing perspective, my mind tells me it makes sense.

    I'm transcribing an Allman Bros. song for one of my students this week. A lot of it is E Mixolydian. I think most musicians would write out the key signature to denote what the root of the tonality is (i.e. 4 sharps since the tonic is "E" and the tonality is major) and then use accidentals any time you encounter a D-natural in the music.

  2. cruxtable
    Member

    i think the best use for key signatures is making the notes easier to read, which would be 3 sharps in this case. if there are chord symbols and the person understands modes, they will know that the key center is E. and most people will be able to hear that E is the root, anyway. just my thoughts...

  3. Quintricacy
    Member

    I write everything in C with accidentals.

  4. Joel
    Member

    Hate to disagree with you, Quintracy, but whichever way you write it there will be a key signature. Either as derivative or parallel, i.e. E mixolydian as derived from A major, or written in E major with D naturals in it. I would always go with the first option myself.

    J

  5. Quintricacy
    Member

    Yes, I am aware of this. Sure for specific excercises you can write key signatures, but when I write compositions I always write in C because usually there's too many key changes, it would become a drag to read.


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