Key Signature

• Jan 23, 2021 - 01:17

What key signature does D Dorian carry?


In reply to by jeetee

For the OP: all these modes have an empty key signature: D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian (Minor), B Locrian, C Ionian(Major). Even with just major and minor, you cannot tell what key a piece is in, even if that is well-defined for the piece in question, by looking at the key signature alone. Often, what piece a key is in, esp. when modes are an issue, is contentious.

In reply to by cedy

Bach and Buxtehude and their contemporaries often used what I call a "gratuitous dorian" key signature for pieces really in the minor, because of their attachment to the outgrowth of the minor out of Dorian, and modern editions often "fix" this (none of the notes change). But for pieces based upon modal chorales, even very complex cantata movements, the corresponding modal signature is often appropriate -- and often not -- and the issue is fuzzy.

In reply to by cedy

I'm also only a semi professional. The question is, what you're expecting?
In D dorian you don't have any accidentals before notes.
In E dorian for example you'll have fis and cis, in C dorian Es and Bb.
Either you're using an open/atonal key signature and will have the accidental for each corresponding note, if necessary, or you're using the corresponding key signature: C-Major/A-Minor for D dorian, D-Major/B-minor for E dorian, Bb-Major/G-Minor for C dorian.
At least this is my opinion.

In reply to by kuwitt

The Beatles got credit for writing Eleanor Rigby, a song said to be in the D Dorian Mode.
They could not read music.
So I though that I would not be considered "out of place" if I tried to write a melody in D Dorian.
Hence the reason why I wanted to know what key signature to put.

In reply to by cedy

But if I understand it correct, the song is a mixture of an aeolian mode in the chord progression and dorian scale for the melody and set in E-Minor. Therefore only from a gregorian mode/scale without seeing the context I think, it's difficult to define exactly the key signature.

In reply to by cedy

Sounds like a dorian melody to me, and is properly notated. But because it only uses B or B flat once (and the B there should really be Bb because of melodic considerations) you can't really tell by listening that it's D dorian and not D minor, although the lack of C#'s make it feel modal.

FWIW, I would advise differently. Even though, yes, technically, D dorian has a key signature with no sharps or flats, most modern musicians are not accustomed to reading musician that is written this way. We don't use a key signature of Bb and C# when referencing harmonic minor - we simply use accidentals where needed. And the same can be true when referencing dorian. Unless you are writing for early music specialists who are accustomed to seeing modal key signatures, it can often be more confusing to see it written this way. Once the reader becomes aware the piece has a tonal center of D, they may instinctively start playing Bb's instead of B's where they don't see accidentals.

Realsitically, it's not a big concern in this particular example. But change keys to, say, F dorian, and you're pretty likely to get people accidentally playing Db's out of habit. Just a practical consideration - theoretically of course there is no issue with having using a dorian rather than minor key signature.

In reply to by cedy

Oh boy... Dorian mode....haven't heard of that since Chris Isaak's hit "Wicked Game" 30 years ago.

I don't recall what that screenshot is about, but if you want to "fill out" the intro. for Sad Stories.mscz, I managed to cobble together a quick harmonization using MuseScore's new 'Realize Chord Symbols' tool (It's a nifty time saver):
SAD STORIES_time_align.mscz

Please read the comments about the 'purple notes' contained within the score because, to me, you have musical phrases with some quarter notes split by barlines. If you play your intro, using the metronome, it's difficult to sense the rhythm.
I kept your phrasing, and shifted it for better alignment with 4/4. Look at the 'purple notes' in this image:
split quarter notes.png

Finally. as relates to 'strict' Dorian mode, my ears insisted on using Gm7 chords which have a Bb, so maybe more like D minor than D dorian. Oh well.


In reply to by Jm6stringer

I tried to use the metronome once and I messed up things.
Since then I have not built up the courage to try it again.
I love those 7th chords.
But at one point you used a plain Dm?
The melody can start where you started it............but I am not getting that feel.
You have knowledge that I do not have but I prefer that it starts as per my disrespect.
Tell me what instruments you chose for the different parts.
I used the notes of the D Dorian Bb.
To me that introduction sets a very, very sad tone for the song.
The lyrics are made up. I hope that they adequately express that tone.

Attachment Size
SAD STORIES Intro.mscz 7.12 KB

In reply to by cedy

Hey cedy,
Hope you don't mind a few thoughts I have on this tune. I listened to your last version first. Frankly, it seemed awkward to me. Then I listened to the earlier versions. Even though everything is syncopated, I kept wanting to count this in two instead of four. I kept wanting it to be on the beat. When I went back to your last version, it then worked for me. Interesting.

As for the mode? Theory can be both the tool to guide us along and a slippery slope. It can be our slave or our master. In the case of this tune, I think it safe to trust your ear rather than try to force the tune into a mold. While the mold works, so does your ear. The Beatles did not know anything about theory. They knew the music they heard around them. And they made several times over, the amount of money of anyone at the time.

Just for the fun of it, I set the intro to a very simple accompaniment. See what you think of the harmony. I just went with what I felt sounded best.

Attachment Size
SAD STORIES Intro2.mscz 13.42 KB

In reply to by cedy

Ha! Now it's "The Worm" (a melancholy worm :-).

The timing is better on this version with the notes falling on the beats, not that weird syncopation you had in an earlier attachment.
In 4/4 you must remember that the strongest beat is on the count of 1. If you listen to the MuseScore metronome with the instruments muted so that all you hear is the metronome ticks you will hear an emphasis on beat #1 and a lesser emphasis on beat #3.
Play back and compare (by counting) how the chord changes are shifted to the strong beat #1 here:
THE WORM_2.mscz

With 4/4 established by shifting the chord changes to the strong beat, "fleshing out" the score starting in measure 10, introduces a bass line that falls on the #1 and #3 beat, reinforcing both 1 & 3:
THE WORM_3.mscz
You can listen first and then afterwards toggle the metronome to follow the cursor as it highlights the beats.

P.S. (Wow! My first use of the new portamento slide feature! Subtle and sweet!)

In reply to by Jm6stringer

In my last/recent post I stated that I do NOT know the theory.
I am not on this forum showing off and pretending to be what I am not or to know what I do NOT know.
The dictionary says that "weird" means supernatural...unearthly...eerie...uncanny.

In reply to by cedy

You mentioned that you go by "feel". That's fine.
As bobjp said: "The Beatles did not know anything about theory".

I agree that music does have a "feel" to it that lies beyond "theory". It has existed for centuries and has given rise to the "theory" as humans have analyzed music to try to rationalize it - just as the falling apple existed long before Isaac Newton thought to analyze its motion with his theory.

To be clear, by the word "weird", I did not mean "supernatural' or "unearthly" , but rather "odd" or "unusual".
I was specifically referring to the intro. part of your first attachment "Sad Stories". While one can hum it after listening to it a few times, and MuseScore does play it the way it is written, the notation was "weird" in an "unusual" sense regarding the beats and phrasing.
That is why I suggested using the metronome.

Anyway, the whole purpose of Music notation is to express musical ideas so that other musicians can readily understand. Using proper musical syntax facilitates this.
That's why The Beatles employed George Martin - to help them orchestrate their music to be played by "other" musicians.
That's also a reason for these MuseScore forums.


In reply to by cedy

You wrote:
I tried to use the metronome once and I messed up things.

The metronome button on the toolbar doesn't change anything in the score. By using it you can't "mess up things". It can be easily turned on and just as easily turned off whenever you desire.
Meter and rhythm are what impel people to tap their feet, clap their hands, and even dance to melodies they have never heard before. It's as if most folk expect music to follow some "pattern".
Using the metronome can give you a sense of whether or not your music possess a metric context. By that I mean, for instance, how a waltz:
"feels" different from a two step:

You wrote:
But at one point you used a plain Dm?
Probably in my haste, I overlooked it. Sounds OK nonetheless.

You wrote:
The melody can start where you started it.

I did not start any of the melody.
I simply used your intro. and made it repeat only for my example -- so you could hear/judge it played twice in a row (without having to re-start playback yourself). You can delete the Segno symbol, the Fine, and the (extra) measure with the D.S. al Fine.

You wrote:
Tell me what instruments you chose for the different parts.

You can go to Edit -> Instruments... to view them. You can also open the mixer to see what instrument sounds are actually played.

You wrote:
I used the notes of the D Dorian Bb.

O.K., so for no Bb's have a look at this:
SAD STORIES_no_Bb.mscz
Again, this has the intro. playing twice only for illustration.
Often in live performances intros are repeated while the singer takes the stage, adjusts the microphone, glances at the band, assesses the audience, winks at a friend, etc. ;-)

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