In music, any of a variety of concepts used to classify scales and melodies. In Western music, the term is particularly used for the medieval church modes. Keys in tonal music are normally said to be in either major or minor mode, depending particularly on the third degree of the scale. The concept of mode may involve much more than simply a classification of scales, extending to embrace an entire vocabulary of melodic formulas and perhaps other aspects of music that traditionally occur in tandem with a given set of formulas. The term mode has also been used for purely rhythmic patterns such as those of the Ars Antiqua, which were based on ancient Greek poetic metres.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on mode, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up mode? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.