The development of the scale in western music has always fascinated me. The western scale is a world-view in itself with the opening tonic, the restful dominant in the middle, and of course the tension loaded 7th which can only resolve back to the tonic, an 8th above.
I love the scale.
But I also love the modes. Modes are our “pre-scales” as it were. If you play only the white notes on the piano and run up the octave of each note, A-A or D-D for example, you will hear the modes.
Here is an example of the D scale as well as its more ancient form the “D mode” or the Dorian Mode.
Each mode has a particular sound, or in world-view terms, a particular vision of life. They pose different answers to the same questions begun by the tonic.
The Dorian mode is my favourite. I feel like you can play anything and it will sound beautiful. Here is a little improvisation I did last night with some effects I used from Garage Band.
PS Towards the end you will hear Vandana, my cat. She is very opinionated. She walked in while I was recording, announced her presence (very loudly), scratched on the post by the piano, and then hoped up on the piano bench and started purring. And so that is why you can hear all of that in the recording.