logoWe heard last week how Mussorgsky used the Lydian mode to ‘flavour’ the Polish dance in Boris Godunov. Chopin, particularly in the mazurkas, is full of such modal flavourings.

Here (at a slowish tempo) are two versions of the central section of his mazurka Op. 68 No. 3. The first example is what Chopin actually wrote: its Lydian inflection shown by the naturalised fourth degree of the scale of B-flat, E-natural (marked by the big black arrow).

Trio lydian


And here – if he was being a good diatonic composer – is what he should have written. Those pesky, ‘unnatural’ E-naturals have now been flattened (marked by the big black arrow) so that they conform to the key of B-flat major.

Trio diatonic


Which do you prefer, the modal or diatonic version?

Interested in the idea of modes? If you want to brush up a little on your knowledge, visit the More on modes page listed below.

Course materials:

Chopin Preludes Op.28

More on modes

plus those (useful!) hardy perennials:

Cycle of 5ths

Keyboard graphic 2 octaves

 Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as “fair use”, for the purpose of study, and critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner(s).