Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mellifluous Mixolydian

Mellifluous Mixolydian, 5 x 7", watercolor/Neocolor II 
     When the thought first came to mind to pursue some sort of harp therapy training, I looked into a book by Kay Gardner, Sounding the Inner Landscape.  One of the things she considers in this volume is the history and use of musical modes, a subject I find quite intriguing. Gardner gives a bit of history of the modes and where they originated. It turns out that "Mixolydian" is credited by Plutarch to have been developed by Sappho on the island of Lesbos, thus Gardner suggests that "Mixolydian" is rightly named "Lesbian," and that we might make our "own conclusions as to why the Church and other sources named it Mixolydian." She calls this mode, "open and joyful", "extroverted and happy".
      This certainly rings true as I have been practicing and playing in this mode, thanks to the book by Joanna Mell, Modal Musings: Modes & Music.  This delightful volume is part of the Therapy Harp Training Program, the conduit for my pursuit of using the harp to help.  Playing through the original compositions by Mell has helped me to absorb the nature of the modes and identify the modes of common, and not-so-common tunes. The idea of making little paintings representing my interpretation of the modes also came out of this practice. The Mixolydian is indeed an "open and joyful" mode. I find that it easily trips off the fingers and is very much like a skip down a path to the open sea.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lydian Lark

Lydian Lark, 7 x 5", watercolor/neocolor II
    Next stop on my musical modes tour, Lydian. To my ear, this is an odd mode. It strikes me as high key, with irregular steps. Perhaps my painting is too literal in interpreting these characteristics, but I can imagine ascending a path with oddly spaced stones, entering a mystical landscape.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Phrygian Fire and Depth

Phrygian Fire and Depth, 5 x 7", watercolor/Neocolor II
Continuing with my exploration of musical modes (please see my previous post, In the Dorian Wood, January 23, 2015), the painting above illustrates the mood evoked in me by the Phrygian mode. The underlying feeling for me is one of passion. Luther's hymn tune, Aus Tiefer Not plumbs the depth of this mode. I can also envision a tango dancer in red when I hear this mode which straddles a major/minor presence.