Tip #193 – Using Lightness of a Scale

You might have heard the term the “brightness” or “darkness” of a scale/mode. Typically they are referring to how scales/modes containing a lot of sharp or raised scale degrees from the tonic are referred to as “bright” while those that have flattened scale degrees from the tonic are “dark”.

This is not to say that flat keys are “dark.” We are saying that the intervals that make up the scale that are flattened in comparison to the major scale tend to be more “dark” in tonality.

Can you change a scale to make it more “bright” or “dark?”

Essentially yes by either raising or lowering pitches in the scale (usually done in a circle of fifths pattern of selecting which pitch to alter).

This is good to keep in mind as you are writing and trying to find the right emotion and color to express your musical ideas. That might mean using an unconventional sale/mode or building one from scratch.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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