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05.17.19 Musical Modes Ranked05.10.19 RYM friends?
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Musical Modes Ranked

Any music theory nerds here? The ranking is based less on how much I like all songs/styles in any given mode and more on how likely a striking deployment of the mode in question is likely to take me aback and impress me - otherwise aeolian and ionian would be the default winners! Let me know your thoughts/feelings - I'm much more confident and familiar with some of these than others...
1Dead Can Dance
Within the Realm of a Dying Sun

For a mode that is often branded as 'the evil metal/flamenco guitar one', Phyrigian is pretty damn diverse. Sometimes it's essentially the harmonic minor with less overtly minor chords, sometimes it's something more subtle and exotic, sometimes it's a Spanish-esque chord sequence on an indie track, and sometimes it's pure dread and suspense. There's a mystery and drama to this one is totally compelling at its best.

Dead Can Dance - Cantara
Blonde Redhead - (I am Taking Out My Eurotrash) I Still Get Rocks Off
Metallica - Wherever I May Roam
Radiohead - Pyramid Song
Still Life

I feel I'd be remiss not to include this near the top. Minor-key pop and a staggering proportion of rock wouldn't exist without Aeolian

Opeth - The Moor
Coheed and Cambria - The Crowing
Interpol - Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down (chorus does something that does not strike me as typically aeolian though)
Modest Mouse - Doin' the Cockroach
Mazzy Star - All Your Sisters
Literally any standard pentatonic rock song
3Jimmy Eat World

Ionian is 100% the most basic bitch mode BUT it has been been responsible for so much euphoria and nostalgia that I'd feel emotionally dishonest not to include it this high. Poppy major key feels all round.

Jimmy Eat World - Futures
Dire Straits - Romeo and Juliet
Mogwai - Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home
almost any pop song that doesn't sound minor
4The Verve
A Storm in Heaven

Lydian gets points for consistency - it's an airy, dreamy sound that folk and psychedelic musicians in particular use reliably and to great effect. I'm not thrilled by artists or albums that rely too heavily on it, but in the right place it makes for a great atmosphere.

The Verve - Beautiful Mind
Pearl Jam - Oceans
5Daft Punk
Random Access Memories

FUNK and GROOVE! Dorian at its best is utterly irresistible but is also responsible for a good deal of bland and/or grating moments from styles I have limited personal preference for

Daft Punk - Get Lucky
Faith No More - Epic (???)
Nirvana - Heart Shaped Box

Somewhat unreliable or even unremarkable, Mixolydian is a more subtle major feel anyone will recognise from the outro of Hey Jude. Ionian is a little more emotionally crass in comparison; Mixolydian often sounds more mature or undramatic, although it's still used in upbeat and flashy pieces a fair bit. Sometimes it misses the mark for me though - my general gauge for Mixolydian is when I expect a minor chord to come in and the piece stays unexpectedly major, which is often striking but sometimes a little bland or disappointing.

Lorde - Green Light
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
Mazzy Star - Five String Serenade (???)

Edgy as hell and generally unusable for whole songs owing to its absence of a dominant fifth, Locrian is a classic case of "wow obscure niche, must have hidden potential" that is definitely interesting but not all that useful

Bjork - Army of Me (verses)
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