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Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Can you use different modes in the same song?


Dear Sir,

I've just read your article, Nothing fishy about scales. It is very helpful. But there is something I don't understand.

Can you use different modes (Ionian and Mixolydian) in the same song?

A related question: Can you use different scales in the same song? For example, does it make sense to use a pentatonic scale in the Verse, and then move to the normal major scale in the Chorus?

Thank you

Hi Liam:

Depending on the type of music you're dealing with, you most certainly can switch from one modal set to another in a given piece's actually rather common. ( i.e. My Favorite things  -I Wish you Love ) Vincent Persechetti goes into this in detail in "Twentieth Century Harmony" in detail

The same principle also includes the use of different scales ( and the use of appropriate chordal support as well )

Hope this helps!

Phil Kelly

Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Phil Kelly


I`m a semi-retired professional music arranger with over thirty five years in all phases of the commercial music production business. I can try to answer questions regarding music arranging, theory, orchestration , and/or composition for most acoustic ensembles .( jazz band or orchestral ) I can try to offer suggestions about studio music recording procedures and some basic MIDI applications , too. In the course of my career I`ve worked with such artists as Doc Severinsen and the old Tonight Show Band, Bill Watrous, Buddy Greco, John Gary, Mel Torme, Julius LaRosa, as well as the Pop programs of the Fort Worth, Dallas, North Carolina, and Houston Symphonies, as well as library music material for ABC, ESPN, and NFL Films.

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