The Full Wiki

More info on Modal frame

Modal frame: Wikis

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about modal frames in music, for modal logic see Kripke semantics.

In music a melodic mode (van der Merwe 1989, p.102-103) or modal frame is one of "a number of types permeating and unifying African, European, and American song" and melody (Middleton 1990, p.203). "Mode" and "frame" are used in this context interchangeably. Melodic modes allow melodies which are not chord-based or determined by the harmony but instead by melodic features. A note frame is a melodic mode that is atonic (without a tonic) or has an unstable tonic.

Examples and aspects of modal frames include:

  • floor note
the bottom of the frame, felt to be the lowest note though isolated notes may go lower
  • ceiling note
the top of the frame
  • central note
the center of mode, around which other notes cluster or gravitate
portion of the mode on which the melody temporarily dwells
  • Melodic dissonance
the quality of a note which is modally unstable and attracted to other more important tones in a non-harmonic way
  • Melodic triad
arpeggiated triads which appear in a melody but not in the harmony, see non-harmonic arpeggio
a temporary modal frame contrasted with another built on a different foundation note. A "change" (as in chord change) in levels is called a shift.
  • Co-tonic
a melodic tonic different from and as important as the harmonic tonic
  • Secondary tonic
a melodic tonic, though different form and subordinate to the harmonic tonic
  • Pendular third[2]
Alternating notes a third apart, most often a neutral, see double tonic

Other songs with modal frames indicated are "A Day in the Life" and "My Generation".



The modal frame of The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night features a ladder of thirds axially centered on G with a ceiling note of Bb and floor note of E (the low C being a passing tone): (ibid)

A Hard Day's Night modal frame


  1. ^ adapted from Ekueme, Lazarus
  2. ^ adapted from Nketia, J.H.

See also


  • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.
  • Van der Merwe, P. (1989). Origins of Popular Style. Oxford.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address