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Modes are the arrangement of tones and semitones in a scale that gave tonal character to melodies in the middle ages and renaissance.

The most suitable modes for transverse flutes in the renaissance were the Dorian (a scale on D with a minor third, a major sixth, and a natural seventh) and the Aeolian transposed a tone lower. Each mode has no more than two semitones, so it is possible to transpose almost any melody to lie well on the flute even without using sharped or flatted notes.

Semitones lie between pairs of notes in red.

Major modes

Mixolydian, like the major scale with natural 7th GABCDEFG
Ionian, like the major scale CDEFGABC
Lydian, with a sharp 4th FGABCDEF

Minor modes

Dorian, like the ascending melodic minor scale with a natural 7th DEFGABCD
Aeolian, like the natural minor scale ABCDEFGA
Phrygian, not like any modern scale EFGABCDE

Major modes with Ionian and Lydian transposed to start on G:

Mixolydian: GABCDEFG
Lydian: GABC#DEF#G

Minor modes with Aeolian and Phrygian transposed to start on D:

Aeolian: DEFGABbCD
Phrygian: DEbFGABbCD

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