Natural Modes

Natural Modes


in music, a group of seven-tone strictly diatonic modes that do not include changes (chromatics, alterations) of the fundamental steps. They have been widespread in European and non-European folk and professional music since ancient times. They include the following (complete and incomplete) modes: Aeolian (natural minor), Ionian (natural major), Dorian, Mixolydian, Phrygian, Lydian, and the rarely encountered Locrian mode, as well as variable diatonic modes and all types of the tonal pentatonic scale.

The names of the basic diatonic natural modes were taken from ancient Greek music theory; however, these modes do not correspond in structure to the ancient Greek diatonic modes having the same names.

The natural modes possess a diverse coloring of sound; for example, the Mixolydian mode is distinguished by a bright minor coloring, while the Lydian is known for its intensified major quality. In the 19th and 20th centuries, various composers, including Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Grieg, Bartók, and Debussy, often employed the natural modes and the natural harmony built on them in order to solve special problems of expression and tonal color.

The concept of natural modes is conventional. The word “natural” signifies “existing in or produced by nature.” However, if diatonicism is natural in European music and constitutes the European modal system, then modes that incorporate nondiatonic intervals—for example, an augmented second—are no less natural in Oriental music.


Tiulin, Iu. Natural’nye i al’teratsionnye lady. Moscow, 1971.
Kotliarevs’kyi, I. Diatonika i khromatyka iak katehorii muzychnoho myslennia. Kiev, 1971.


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The impact interaction between elastic links is characterized by a rich spectral content of excitation impulses capable to excite a wide range of natural modes.
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10] obtained the natural frequencies and natural modes for an Euler-Bernoulli beam using a dual multiple reciprocity method (MRM) and the singular value decomposition method.
The distribution coefficients for the natural modes of vibration are:
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