The Modal Method bases scales on the modes of the major scale.

Modes  >   
1
  
2
  
3
4
  
5
  
6
  
7
D Major
D
E
F#
G
A
B
C#
E Dorian
D
E
F#
G
A
B
C#
F# Phrygian
D
  
E
  
F#
G
  
A
  
B
  
C#
G Lydian
D
  
E
  
F#
G
  
A
  
B
  
C#
A Dominant (Mixolydian)
D
  
E
  
F#
G
  
A
  
B
  
C#
B Minor (Aeolian)
D
  
E
  
F#
G
  
A
  
B
  
C#
C# Locrian
D
  
E
  
F#
G
  
A
  
B
  
C#

The E Dorian scale (a type of minor scale) is easy to play on a D flute because the notes are the same as D Major; but the scale melody resolves at the tonic E instead of D. Similarly, we can just as easily play the third mode, known as Phrygian (popular in Middle Eastern music), resolving on the F#. The same holds true through all 7 modes of the major scale. Already we can convey the feel of Irish or Middle Eastern music easily just by shifting the tonic of the scale to the second or third hole as demonstrated above. The most familiar of the modes is the so-called natural minor, rooted in the 6th note (for example, B minor mode in the D Major scale above).

The tradeoff to ease of playing the modal scales is that they sound relatively dissonant to Western ears trained to conventional major-scale melodies. The modal scales use the exact same notes as the major scale; but by starting or resolving on a different note, the melodic feel changes radically.


If the relatively dissonant minors and other modal scales are not to your taste, and you prefer the sound of the major scale, then it makes sense to play it on a flute keyed to the tonic of that scale (C Major on a C flute, D Major on a D flute, E Major on an E flute, and so on). A good second choice for playing the major scale easily would be to use the note of the fourth hole up from the bottom of the flute as the tonic. This requires only one "gray" note in the scale - the C, in the example of G Major played on a D flute:

1
  
2
  
3
4
  
5
  
6
  
*
G Major
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G Major
D
  
E
  
F#
G
  
A
  
B
C

What if we wanted to play a mode of the E Major scale on an E flute? We'll call this second approach the Key Method.

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