Peremennyi Lad

Peremennyi Lad


a mode in which the function of the passive tone (tonic) shifts from one tone to another in the same scale; also, as defined by I. V. Sposobin, a mode in which the scale changes while the tonic (passive tone) remains the same.

The term peremennyi lad is usually applied to the first of the above-mentioned types, even though it would be more accurate to describe this as peremenno-tonal’nyi (“alternating tonic”) and the second type as peremenno-ladovyi (“alternating modal”). The Russian music theorist B. L. Iavorskii introduced the concept and the term peremennyi lad. The peremennyi lad is common in folk music, especially in Russia. Because it is relatively unstable, the tonal center can be shifted with comparative ease to almost any step in the scale; in the process, the feeling of modulation does not arise. Unlike modulation, the shifting of the tonic in peremennyi lad does not involve the abandonment of one key for another or the merging of two or more keys with the same scale into a harmonic whole. The feeling of two or more colorings from the same modal system prevails in compositions featuring peremennyi lad (M. I. Glinka, Ivan Susanin, first act, the chorus “The River Imprisoned by the Ice”). This is especially noticeable in the most common form of the peremennyi lad, the parallel form (parallel’no peremennyi), which is often encountered in Russian folk songs.

In peremennyi lad the shifts from one tonic to another are usually smooth. This accounts for the serenely modulating character of the device. However, different treatment of it is possible, as for example, in a section from the second act of Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, where the composer shifts rather abruptly from the Ionian to the Aeolian mode, which he proceeds to use alternately with the Phrygian mode.


Protopopov, S. V. Elementy stroeniia muzykal’noi rechi, parts 1–2. Moscow, 1930.
Vakhromeev, V. A. Ladovaia struktura russkikh narodnykh pesen. Moscow, 1968.
Sposobin, I. V. Lektsii po kursu garmonii. Moscow, 1969.


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