Use Your Words - posted on March 30, 2014 by

Messiaen Mode 3 – matrix & trichords

Continuing on from my last post about the subject, the following matrix depicts one transposition of Messiaen’s Mode 3:


In keeping with the last post’s concept of looking at the mode as a symmetrical collection of trichords, the matrix below charts all possible arrangements of three pitches (listed here as pitch 1, pitch 2, and pitch 3):


Much in the same way that triads are made from skipping notes within major scales, the following is a series of trichords that are made up of different combinations of skipping and stepping through the scale:


These trichords are selected and named arbitrarily, with the intention of displaying some of the vertical possibilities of Mode 3. For example, Type 4 contains a series of trichords that can be looked upon as major triads. Likewise, Type 3 contains trichords that are identical to minor triads, Type 2 contains diminished triads, and Type 5 contains augmented triads. There are other trichords within each of these grids that can suggest some other tonalities, or better yet, can be used as a means of combining tonalities.

Extended tonality, polytonality . . . however you choose to define it, Mode 3 provides a systematic way of combining three triads (such as Type 4’s C major, Eb major, E major, G major, Ab major, and B major) that would not be possible within the traditional major scale-based system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *