Are there *any* mainstream-ish songs wholly or mostly in an odd mode?

Meaning other than ionian, aeolian, or mixolydian (which is used a bit in Jazz). Are there any interesting semi-mainstream (define however you wish to, doesn’t have to be Top 40 or anything, just not some John Cage monstrosity or something only played by an indie band only one guy in Louisiana has ever heard of) songs that are 60% phrygian or locrian or… something?

I’m mostly just curious for no particular reason.

Good question. I bet some prog fans are going to have some fun with this. Well, I think of blues as it’s own tonality; maybe you could call it mixolydian.

But for radio stuff that people have probably heard at some point, obviously common ones are So What (Dorian) and Milestones (Aeolian and dorian I think) but also stuff like the intro to Spain I guess most people have heard. Call that phrygian I guess, kind of that Spanish sound with the lowered second degree.

I’m guessing you’re looking for stuff with words and stuff, though.

Not really, the opening theme or incidental music in a show or movie works fine too. I was mostly just trying to exclude stuff like “Oh, god, you have to listen to my garage band, Flaming Zombie Teddy Bear! Our bassist Mike wrote the totally sick song we play that’s in locrian! I mean, we haven’t even had a bar gig yet, but we wrote a song in locrian!”

In addition to attempting to exclude modern or post-modern music that’s peddled as merely a curiosity intentionally attempting to break modal trends (hence “John Cage stuff”). I guess I’ll go out on a limb and specifically ban really, really old stuff like actual Gregorian Chant too.

Modes are not my strong suit, but I think the intro/verse parts of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” are in Phrygian mode.

I believe Dick Dale’s surf instrumental “Misirlou” is in a double harmonic scale that doesn’t fit one of the traditional modes.

Everybody knows “Hava Nagila,” right? That’s in the phrygian dominant mode, a/k/a the “Spanish or Jewish” scale.

I remember telling someone that an Enya song on that we were hearing was in Dorian. I can’t remember which one or if I was correct. New Agey stuff would tend to lend itself better to unusual modes I think.

Well even excluding John Cage and other avant-garde composers and chant I can still list tons of stuff in the classical tradition that use “unusual” modes. I thought you just referring to pop music and such.

Can someone explain modes real quick? It’s been a few years since music theory class, and I’m not even sure I grasped it then.

Remember, I’m not talking about “using” odd modes, that’s not uncommon. What is, I think, more uncommon is a song that’s written almost entirely in another mode.

But sure, if it’s that common let’s limit ourselves to blockbuster film music and pop music.

(I’m especially interested in the locrian mode, because it’s so dissonant).

You know how you have a “key” in music? You know how that key can be major or minor? You know how which it is depends on what note/chord it starts on, and the typical prograssion of chords from one to another? Well, major and minor are just modes. Major is the ionian (1st) mode. Minor is the aeolian (6th) mode of that same scale. Dorian is 2nd, Phrygian is 3rd, Lydian is 4th, Mixolydian is 5th, and Locrian is 7th. They’re characterized by the chord progression and starting notes of the song. There are also, as noted above, modifications of these modes like “Phrygian Dominant” just like you can have “harmonic minor” etc.

I wish I could think of some specific examples, but I can’t. I’m almost certain some popular music that wears celtic influence on its sleeve is in the Lydian mode. (Assuming I’m remembering right that Lydian is the one that goes from F to F if played on the white keys.)

Would music from a popular musical count? Isn’t “Maria” from West Side Story in Lydian?

ETA: No, it sounds like just the first couple of bars is made to sound like Lydian.

Oooohhhhhh. Ok, I get it now as much as I am able :cool:

“Hotel California” is at least partially in phrygian mode, isn’t it? It’s got that Spanish flavor. I’m rather vague on the modes, though. I think maybe some of Loreena McKennitt’s stuff uses phrygian mode, though not–oddly enough–“Beneath a Phrygian Sky”.

Random note: The phrase “melancholy flamenco” went through my head no less than five times while composing this post.

I can’t think of any popular song written in locrian. Its got a diminished 5th in its tonic triad, a sound that most people find unpleasant and that makes harmonizations very difficult. There are song parts in locrian. Metallica has several guitar solos in it. I’d love to hear a whole song in locrian that sounds good. But that’s akin to saying I love to hear a song played on the bass harmonica that sounds good. The two may be mutually exclusive.

“Spanish Caravan” by The Doors.

I don’t know how “mainstream” it is, but Scarborough Fair is in Dorian.

Speaking of The Doors they used dorian mode quite a lot (“Light My Fire,” “Riders on the Storm,” “The End”), as did Carlos Santana (“Oyo Como Va,” “Evil Ways” “Black Magic Woman,” etc.)

I believe that Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” is in phrygian.

This isn’t pop music, per se, but the music of the “Halo” series of video games is almost entirely written in Dorian mode. Here’s the main (and best-known) theme from the series. Apparently, the composer was originally given little more than the words “adventure” and “ancient” to go off when coming up with the theme. A Dorian melding of monastic chant, eastern-influenced drums, and soaring strings fit the descriptor nicely.

Blue in Green by Miles is purely modal, all the tonalities are derived from the modalities of the melodic minor.

Most everything on Kind of Blue is modal, and also check out the album Explorations by Bill Evans.

Going beyond modal, Frank Zappa sometimes used the whole-tone scale - which basically sounds wrong over everything :slight_smile:

Off the top of my head a typically um… interesting example is the guitar solo from Sheik Yebouti Tango.

I don’t know if it stays that way throughout, but Louie Louie starts out in Mixolydian, as its chords are I, IV, v, IV, repeating over and over. In C that would be C, F, Gm, F, hence C Mixolydian.

Then again, Mixolydian is so common that it’s practically cheating.