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Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), American Composer, Conductor, Author, Teacher, and Pianist


The Hersch
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In practice (double entendre on practice), pianists often, perhaps generally, practice two types of minor scales:

The harmonic minor, both going up, and coming down. This makes perfect sense, and it seems like there should be two others practiced: the natural minor, and the melodic minor, but there aren't, and that's what doesn't make sense to me.

The second type of scale often practiced is a melodic minor going up, but a natural minor coming back down. Why is this? Why isn't it the other way around, for example, i.e., why isn't it a natural minor going up, and a melodic minor coming back down? Or, for that matter, why aren't the two practiced separately: a natural minor going both up and down, and a melodic minor going both up and down? Too much weight on the scales, perhaps? (That was funny; you just don't realize that it was funny.)

I don't know squat about music theory and obviously can't address your question. But Leonard Bernstein was wonderful.

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I don't know squat about music theory and obviously can't address your question. But Leonard Bernstein was wonderful.

I watched all four of those videos, and they were wonderful - Bernstein was a *great* teacher.

As a bonus for those who sat through them all, here's a popular song that's written 100% in Dorian Mode:

I'm hoping this slightly "off-sounding" canon will be enough of a tease to get people to watch the videos. They're understandable even by complete novices, and yet, they aren't condescending in the least, even to advanced musicians. You'll get to Dorian Mode early on in the videos (if you want to cheat, go straight to the second one), and you'll understand what it is perfectly well - if not, just ask.

The telltale sign of it being in Dorian Mode can be heard in the words "of mine" (as in, "true love of mine") where the two notes are separated by a whole tone instead of a half tone - that's the *only reason* this traditional English ballad sounds somewhat "medieval" to our Ionically trained ears. That's not the only instance (it occurs in multiple places), but that's the only reason, and if you watch the videos, it will be crystal-clear (it's what Bernstein refers to as "the handshake" instead of "the embrace").

This could easily go in another thread on Modes, but I think Maestro Bernstein would like it in here.

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