Tone gender

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Tone gender ( ital. Modo , frz. Mode ) is a property of keys , scales , chords , but also of pieces of music or musical sections, which is described by the assignment to major or minor . Main difference between major and minor is the type of third above the root note : The major third is major ( Engl. Major ), small (for minor English. Minor ). Today there is a convention to mark the major gender with capital letters and the minor gender with lowercase letters, e.g. B. C major (or short: C) and C minor (or short: c).


The word tone gender came up as a translation word for genos in the 18th century . This term included in the Greek music theory , the diatonic , chromatic and enharmonic . However, these can only be equated to a limited extent with our current terms of diatonic , chromatic and enhharmonic .

In the system of church tones , modus major and modus minor ( cantus durus and cantus mollis ) were considered to be tone sexes ( genera ) until the 18th century . The 12  modes on the other hand (e.g. A- Aeolian or C- Ionian ) were regarded as tones ( species ).

In the course of the 18th century the older modes ( Dorian , Phrygian etc.) were almost completely displaced by the younger ones (Ionic and Aeolian). From then on, these were regarded as tone genders ( genera ): Ionian became major, Aeolian became minor. From then on, the transposition degrees of major and minor (e.g. D major or F sharp minor ) were used as keys .

Web links

Wiktionary: Tone gender  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Riemann Musiklexikon, Sachteil, Mainz 1967, p. 964