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Chopin Preludes – New Urtext Sheet Music

Written partly during Chopin’s catastrophic wintertime stay on Majorca, the 24 Preludes, opus 28, are some of the composer’s most mysterious works. Schumann said of them: “They are sketches, beginnings of études, or, so to speak, ruins, individual eagle pinions, all disorder and wild confusions.” Read more >>

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Author Topic: What is this scale?  (Read 1249 times)
ranjit
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« on: February 05, 2017, 04:34:54 PM »

This scale comes near the end of Chopin Ballade 1.
A Bb C D E F# G

What is this scale called?
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dcstudio
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 05:34:15 PM »

G melodic minor or as you have written it ..the 2ND mode of g melodic minor.
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keypeg
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 05:47:10 PM »

G melodic minor or as you have written it ..the 2ND mode of g melodic minor.
Is that like a kind of altered Dorian?
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dcstudio
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 06:31:55 PM »

Dorian b2 to be precise
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cometear
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2017, 06:44:54 PM »

It seems like either Dorian b2 or Locrian #6
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Clementi, Piano Sonata in G Minor, No. 3, op. 10
W. A. Mozart, Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in F Major, K. 497
Beethoven, Piano Concerto, No. 2, op. 19
dcstudio
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2017, 07:08:55 PM »

It is Dorian b2,  not locrian...if it was you would call it locrian  #5 #6 as the E is natural but this scale doesn't exist as a mode. These are designations of the modes of the melodic minor scale only not the relative major which in this case is Bb.   Each mode is altered by only one lowered pitch. In this case the scale is functioning as the 2ND mode of the tonic key of G minor.  The locrian mode of G would begin on F#

Locrian mode of the melodic minor starting on A would mean that Bb minor is functioning as tonic. That is why it's not locrian. In that case the locrian mode would be spelled..A Bb C Db Eb F G A


If we're talking about the standard major modes...A LOCRIAN, would be  spelled A Bb C D Eb F G A
A Dorian would be spelled A B C D E F# G. The reason the F is raised is because it is the leading tone. It's not randomly altered ...it has a purpose.


Locrian mode of the melodic minor is locrian b4

Theory is a wonderful thing. Modes are named to designate their function and relation to the tonic key.  
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vaniii
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2017, 09:19:01 PM »

It is Dorian b2,  not locrian...if it was you would call it locrian  #5 #6 as the E is natural but this scale doesn't exist as a mode. These are designations of the modes of the melodic minor scale only not the relative major which in this case is Bb.   Each mode is altered by only one lowered pitch. In this case the scale is functioning as the 2ND mode of the tonic key of G minor.  The locrian mode of G would begin on F#

Locrian mode of the melodic minor starting on A would mean that Bb minor is functioning as tonic. That is why it's not locrian. In that case the locrian mode would be spelled..A Bb C Db Eb F G A


If we're talking about the standard major modes...A LOCRIAN, would be  spelled A Bb C D Eb F G A
A Dorian would be spelled A B C D E F# G. The reason the F is raised is because it is the leading tone. It's not randomly altered ...it has a purpose.


Locrian mode of the melodic minor is locrian b4

Theory is a wonderful thing. Modes are named to designate their function and relation to the tonic key. 


Smiley
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keypeg
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2017, 12:01:22 AM »

I was asking because I've come across two views in regards to modes.  In one, a mode is tied to diatonic scales, in the order of whole tones and semitones as they appear in the major scale and natural minor scale.  But we're also coming across "mode of the melodic minor", "mode of the harmonic minor", and "modes" of other types of scales.  There are some who will say that the latter are not modes, because the definition if a mode is inextricably linked to the first definition - the order of whole tones and semitones of the major scale, but with a different starting point in the octave.

I was thinking about your "2nd mode of G melodic minor".  The melodic minor itself is like a major scale with a lowered third.  When you then refer to it as Dorian b2, then we are back to the traditional mode as I know it - diatonic etc.  The Dorian mode, but the B has been changed to Bb - it being the 2nd note in A Dorian, hence, "flat 2".  Now, would you refer to it as "A Dorian of melodic minor", or "A Dorian, b2"?  Like could we skip the "melodic minor" completely?  To me, sticking "minor" or even "major" into the mix is like apples and oranges, and confusing.
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keypeg
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 12:02:23 AM »

Food for thought and also a quasi question: What makes a mode, a mode.  If in a piece of music a scale happens to start on a different note than the tonic, is that a mode?  Or do you need something else going on?
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keypeg
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 12:05:51 AM »

Quote
Modes are named to designate their function and relation to the tonic key. 
Looking at this:
How do you define a "function" of a mode?  I understand function of chords.  For example, the Dominant chord has the function of bringing the music back to the Tonic.  What is the function of a mode - or how do you understand this?
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vaniii
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2017, 12:29:32 AM »

Firstly, we must establish a key using the Ionian diatonic scale pattern.

Then we look for what degree of the scale to determine the mode.

Then we consider chromatic notes and decern if they are such, or modifications to the key (i.e. melodic minor).

Then we can give it a designation.

My eye saw b-flat and f-sharp and immediately thought G minor. Which dictated dorian in G minor.

It cannot be locrian because b-flat major does not have an F-sharp.

My mentor always said keep it simple. If you have to make it work by modification, it's wrong.

Othwise this is aolian in c major with a b2 #6.  This makes no harmonic sense.
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keypeg
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2017, 12:43:07 AM »

This scale comes near the end of Chopin Ballade 1.
A Bb C D E F# G

What is this scale called?
I found the passage at the end of the Ballade 1.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/i39gxys5nxwp8ig/JUNK1.jpg?dl=0
In fact, it starts on G, and is a G melodic minor scale.  The octave in the bass clef starts on A, but we are hearing the G prominently so it is still G melodic minor.

The second time that I circled below, we have the same scale but this time it goes from Bb to Bb.  You could say that it starts on the 3rd degree note of G mel. minor, and then call it "Phrygian of mel. minor" if you accept such a designation.  You could say it starts in the 3rd degree not of the G scale, lowered by a semitone, so a b1 Phrygian or something.  But does this have anything to do with modes?  Can we just say it's a G melodic minor scale that starts and ends ob Bb?  We still have the Gm chord, and the whole thing is emphasizing the Tonic at the end of the piece, as often happens at the end of pieces.

Why not keep it simple?  G melodic minor, starting once on the tonic, and starting another time on a different note.
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keypeg
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2017, 12:49:01 AM »

Firstly, we must establish a key using the Ionian diatonic scale pattern.

.......
My eye saw b-flat and f-sharp and immediately thought G minor. Which dictated dorian in G minor.
As soon as you have G melodic minor, you are no longer in the Ionian diatonic scale pattern (different words for what I wrote).  What I found out was that there are diverging schools of thought.  What I am being taught is that it is only a mode if it keeps the intervals of the Ionian or Aeolian scales (both have the same intervals) - but we can have different starting points, which is what defines the modes.  As soon as an interval is different, it is no longer in that pattern, and is thus not a mode.
BUT there are now diverging schools of thoughts, so it depends what you follow.  The problem with the diverging thought is that ultimately it becomes meaningless, because you have infinite forms of scales, and it becomes hopelessly complicated.

Again - What do we want to call a mode?  Is there something that distinguishes a mode from merely starting an Ionian (major) scale on a different degree? 
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dcstudio
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2017, 02:18:57 AM »



Again - What do we want to call a mode?  Is there something that distinguishes a mode from merely starting an Ionian (major) scale on a different degree?  

Not that I am aware of...but modal harmony has a distinct sound.  As I remember it was the ancient Greeks who came up with the concept. Each mode had a distinct feeling to it. Alexander the Great was said to listen to Dorian mode before going into battle because it was thought to represent power.  Each mode can function as tonic or tunes can be written that exist solely from the mode itself instead of just a passing scale in a major key.

I learned the melodic and harmonic modes in jazz fundamentals I don't remember those being mentioned in theory class and there are different schools of thought on this. I do remember being confused as heck about the whole concept at first.
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cometear
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2017, 02:45:27 AM »

I will read all these replies one day, but I am too sleepy. It seems I miscalculated above but I will check tomorrow.
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Clementi, Piano Sonata in G Minor, No. 3, op. 10
W. A. Mozart, Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in F Major, K. 497
Beethoven, Piano Concerto, No. 2, op. 19
dcstudio
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2017, 02:40:22 PM »

I will read all these replies one day, but I am too sleepy. It seems I miscalculated above but I will check tomorrow.

Yes it seems that you did. Smiley but that's OK it happens. All in all it made for a great discussion
So thank you!

Modes can be confusing at first but it is really a very simple concept...don't make it harder or more complex
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dcstudio
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« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2017, 03:01:31 PM »

"A Dorian, b2"?  Like could we skip the "melodic minor" completely?  To me, sticking "minor" or even "major" into the mix is like apples and oranges, and confusing.

Yes, Dorian b2 is all you need to say...and anyone with a solid theory foundation will understand what you mean.  Like I said we learned these in jazz class and we use them in improv because they sound cool. We name them so we can remember them easily and we define them so we know when to use them... if that makes sense. 
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keypeg
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« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2017, 03:24:13 PM »

Not that I am aware of...but modal harmony has a distinct sound.  As I remember it was the ancient Greeks who came up with the concept. Each mode had a distinct feeling to it. Alexander the Great was said to listen to Dorian mode before going into battle because it was thought to represent power.  Each mode can function as tonic or tunes can be written that exist solely from the mode itself instead of just a passing scale in a major key.

I learned the melodic and harmonic modes in jazz fundamentals I don't remember those being mentioned in theory class and there are different schools of thought on this. I do remember being confused as heck about the whole concept at first.
Thanks dc. Smiley

Unraveling it all, and going backward in time, here's what I've learned so far:

1.  There are different schools of thought, and ideas like "mode of a harmonic minor scale" are primarily in the jazz world.  I took a course given by vibraphonist Gary Burton last year - he spoke of an immense number of scale types, and then isolated about 10 as the most prevalent.  At this point there were things like "Lydian b7".  I discussed this with my main teacher, who had a different take on it. That's too long and complicated to write out.  We have two premises out there: a) modes are purely restricted to the order of intervals defined by Ionian / Aeolean b) the expanded versions such as "Lydian b7", or modes of a type of scale such as of melodic minor.

2.  Going backward in time - We have the "church modes" that you wrote about, which I think come about in early Western music and into the very beginnings of the Renaissance.  The idea of chords, and chordal harmony did not exist.  There were individual "melodies" of one voice, but even that was along lines foreign to our ears.  Polyphony came in gradually, but still along lines that are foreign to us.  Then by the Renaissance we do get chords and such - The Dorian is prevalent.  You'll hear two versions of Scarborough Fair which goes back to that period, a more modern version sharping the 7th - but without that it has a "period" kind of sound.

3. The Greeks - It seems we often get taught a very simplified and thus distorted view of it.  Here too there are no chords, chordal harmonies, chords to create mood and colour.  But they were not like the church modes.  You had four notes - a tetrachord - two outer notes that formed a P4 - two inner notes - and one version contained quarter tones.  The way those two tetrachords were chained together formed the octave as well as the mood.  There were also different little rhythm packets which were to reflect / affect mood, emotion, a person's character.  When you start discovering Indian raga - this is where you get into the mentality of the ancient Greek modes.  Shocked

My feeling is that modes are used in particular ways in jazz, and there is an interplay with harmony.  The harmony itself breaks free from the rigid Baroque era type of I IV V I - depending on where you are in jazz (I've barely dipped my toes into this).  But "classical" music itself gets experimental and breaks free.  Unfortunately the way theory tends to be taught, it tends to stay in a simplified version of Common Practice era music, and wants to hammer round pegs into new shapes, to fit the square holes.

I suspect that when Beethoven writes a G minor melodic scale twice, once going from G to G over a Gm scale, and then going from Bb to Bb over a Gm/Bb scale (going from memory), that this is not modal, because there is more to modes than just switching what degree you start on. But I'm not sure.
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keypeg
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« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2017, 03:29:37 PM »

Yes, Dorian b2 is all you need to say...and anyone with a solid theory foundation will understand what you mean.  Like I said we learned these in jazz class and we use them in improv because they sound cool. We name them so we can remember them easily and we define them so we know when to use them... if that makes sense.  
Gotcha.  This also keeps us within the original premise, which is that modes are based on the sequence of tones and semitones of the "diatonic" scale = Ionian / Aeolian (same thing).  As soon as you have a "mode" of a "minor scale" it opens up a can of worms.

I just don't know if I'm comfortable with considering that Beethoven Chopin passage as any kind of a mode, because I think you're also trying to create mood or other things.  To me the simplest way to work with that passage is to see those two chords Gm , then Gm/Bb, with a melodic minor scale starting once on G, once on Bb, each time starting and ending with the base note - basta, done.  By comparison, if I write / play / improvise a piece in D Dorian, I'm after a mood which gets established through a tonal center combined with the interplay of chords.  I'm hunting for something here.  What do you think?
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dcstudio
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« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2017, 03:48:36 PM »

Gotcha.  This also keeps us within the original premise, which is that modes are based on the sequence of tones and semitones of the "diatonic" scale = Ionian / Aeolian (same thing).  As soon as you have a "mode" of a "minor scale" it opens up a can of worms.

I just don't know if I'm comfortable with considering that Beethoven passage as any kind of a mode, because I think you're also trying to create mood or other things.  To me the simplest way to work with that passage is to see those two chords Gm , then Gm/Bb, with a melodic minor scale starting once on G, once on Bb, each time starting and ending with the base note - basta, done.  By comparison, if I write / play / improvise a piece in D Dorian, I'm after a mood which gets established through a tonal center combined with the interplay of chords.  I'm hunting for something here.  What do you think?

You now understand it seems why people debate about theory and why there are different schools of thought. It's really all about what you want to use the mode for isn't it? The ancient Greek mythos wasn't even based on the major scale as we know it....but someone liked those names and then applied them to the major modes.  There is a distinct sound to each one.  Phrygian, for example, sounds like Flamenco or Spanish folk music and is very easy to identify...because the whole piece sounds modal in nature.
To name a passing scale as a mode is, for me, a way of taking a sequence of notes and inputting them in my memory as a single entity thereby allowing me to "factor down" a large work into easier terms. That is why I would do that...but I understand what you mean...it doesn't make the piece or even the passage, modal in its entirety.  

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keypeg
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« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2017, 04:09:20 PM »

Weren't we talking about the Chopin Ballade? Beethoven was the other string. I confuse strings all the time so no judgement here.
I suck at names.  I once spent a whole lesson showing my gr. 2 students how to make Valentine cards, and constantly calling the red paper "blue" with the kids shouting out "Red!  Red!" Cheesy If I don't check back, I'll end up with a wrong name.
Quote
The ancient Greek mythos wasn't even based on the major scale as we know it....but someone liked those names and then applied them to the major modes.  
We cross posted. Wink  They didn't involve 7 notes, as you said, they sometimes involved quarter tones, and they were combined with little rhythm packets - all of it similar to Indian raga.
Quote
There is a distinct sound to each one.  Phrygian, for example, sounds like Flamenco or Spanish folk music and is very easy to identify...because the whole piece sounds modal in nature.
Yes, that is how I understand it.  You might "go modal" for an entire piece, or for a section of a piece to create a mood, a flavour, a "Flamenco feel" or whatever - and it's probably over several chords.  For that part of the Ballade 1, what I hear is Chopin hammering in the Tonic at the end of the piece so that it stays in the ear, with the Gm, then Gm/Bb chord and simply using the Gm melodic scale from different starting points - not a "modal flavour thing".  (I'm the one who first asked about modes - at that point neither of us had seen the music, had no context).
Quote
To name a passing scale as a mode is, for me, a way of taking a sequence of notes and inputting them in my memory as a single entity thereby allowing me to "factor down" a large work into easier terms.
That makes sense.  We all create and use our personal associations.

But here we're in the student forum and I find it good to suss out what a thing actually is.  When we have a bunch of things at hand, we can mix and match what we can use personally.  The more angles we learn, the better, I think.

As I'm thinking of the original question - Even if the scale had gone from A to A rather than G to G - one skill would be to simply be able to recognize a scale regardless of starting note.  That is what engendered the question.  This might actually be an argument for practising playing scales "modally" i.e. from 2 to 2, 3 to 3 - and get that in your ear.  (Which, by coincidence, is a suggestion I've been given recently. Wink - totally out of context for the present.)
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dcstudio
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« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2017, 04:20:36 PM »

All this conversation started because I stated that as the OP had spelled the scale, it was the second mode.  I kdon't remember saying Fred wrote it that way...did I? Still it made for a great string with a very solid discussion about the modes.
...but you are right...it is a student forum and this stuff can be oh so confusing. Best to stick with common practice. The answer is simply G melodic minor.
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ranjit
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« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2017, 05:43:53 PM »

...but you are right...it is a student forum and this stuff can be oh so confusing. Best to stick with common practice. The answer is simply G melodic minor.

Nah, I enjoyed reading all the posts. I've learnt a lot from this discussion! Smiley

It's nice how this turned into a discussion about the concepts underlying music theory. Plus, I realized that there is a concept of modes for scales other than major scales.

This is what I like about this forum!
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dcstudio
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« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2017, 06:04:55 PM »

Nah, I enjoyed reading all the posts. I've learnt a lot from this discussion! Smiley

It's nice how this turned into a discussion about the concepts underlying music theory. Plus, I realized that there is a concept of modes for scales other than major scales.

This is what I like about this forum!


Thank you.

It's wonderful to be able to talk about real musical concepts and not just the "emotional" words some tend to use here in their own personal analysis of what music is.
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keypeg
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« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2017, 06:40:54 PM »

All this conversation started because I stated that as the OP had spelled the scale, it was the second mode. 
Yes, it did indeed. Wink  I've learned to check on things and it's sort of become second nature.  That led to the whole exploration of what is and isn't a mode.  I also find such things to be interesting.
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dcstudio
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« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2017, 07:01:37 PM »

Is that like a kind of altered Dorian?

...and it was you who first named the scale in relation to the major modes.  So it was kind of both of us that got this discussion so far off base from the OPs very simple and obvious question
Lol...oh well. It sure was fun.
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vaniii
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« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2017, 08:29:20 PM »

Gotcha.  This also keeps us within the original premise, which is that modes are based on the sequence of tones and semitones of the "diatonic" scale = Ionian / Aeolian (same thing).  As soon as you have a "mode" of a "minor scale" it opens up a can of worms.

You have to look for the diatonic scale first to establish key.

Similar to why you look for major key first, then minor.

The moment you see a chromaticism, it is no longer major, and is now minor or modal.

That said, even in a major key, an ascending passage might not be modal, especially if it ends on the tonic (arriving on a strong beat):

A B C# | D

this is not mexalydian mode becuase the keynote is D.

C# D E F# G|  A

this is mexalydian becuase it arrives on the on the fifth degree of the scale.

Different context, but putting the strong beat on the C-sharp, makes this locrian, due to the key note being sounded on the strong beat.

Again, context is everything:

C# D E F# G A B C# | D

This might be Ionian if you arrive on the D on the next strong beat; transitional.

Bar-lines matter.

In theory, context is everything, simply due to theory being 'speculative' with infinite possibility, where as practical is 'actual' with finite application at that specific time.
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