Aolean. What we learned in elementary school as the natural minor. I remember having to memorize the three minor scales, but noone explained why there were three scales. After years, I feel that I have a gut understanding of why there are three prominent forms. Singers, of course, like Melodic minor. Harmonic minor is more natural for, well, working harmonically — vertically. And the natural minor. After 5 minutes of playing a 6 hole flute, I understood why the natural minor – Aeolean – still exists in our modern studies.

This mode is good to use when a patient is in reflective or introspective mood. Our IHTP materials touch on the use of Aeolean when we see a patient in the fetal position. Like my understanding of the minor scales, I will trust that more experience here will help me understand this more fully in my gut.

There are some nice transitions that can be used with this mode. Transitioning between this mode and its relative major (Ionian) mode is common in classical, traditional and pop music. Many Irish tunes move from Ionian in the “A” section of the piec to its relative Aeolean in the “B” section. To me, moving from Ionian to Aolean (major to its relative minor, e.g., C major to A minor) gives a feeling of development — taking an idea and thinking about it in more depth. Moving the other direction has a strong effect on me – It is the same feeling as being outdoors and feeling the sun come out from behind a cloud. You aren’t unhappy with the sun behind the cloud, but the effect is pronounced.

Transitioning between parallel Ionian and Aeolean (e.g., C major and C minor)  is also effective, but I think the relative changes effect me more profoundly.

I haven’t experimented with moving between Aolean and another minor mode: Dorian yet. I can see using relative tonalities (e.g., A Aeolean to D Dorian) can give a strong V-I feeling. We often create our dance sets in the Strandband so that we have this V-I shift in focus. I think that moving between Dorian and Aeolean in a parallel fashion (e.g., D dorian to D Aeloean) can be intriguing – Since Aeolean is the “natural” minor, I think of Dorian as being Aeolean with a raised 6th. Moving back and forth between the raised and “natural” 6th can be an intersting improvisation, but easier to play on flute than on the lever harp. But I’m eager to try it out the next time I practice.

Anyway, here is my Improvisation in Aeolean. This is a combination of the Scottish air Mary Young and Fair, along with snippets from the Moldeau. I hope you enjoy it!

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