Modal vs. Tonal
In this episode of What Music Means to Me I’ll attempt to tackle one of the toughest musical concepts to explain: the difference between modal and tonal music.
Around 500 B.C. Pythagoras wrote about various modes and by 500 A.D. Pope Gregory the Great was compiling church plainsong, which we call Gregorian chant, written in these modes. By the Baroque period and on up through the Romantic period, church and concert art composers shifted to the major-minor tonal system more-or-less exclusively. The shift from the modes of Gregorian chant to the tonal system in place by the 18th-century is quite a story!