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Modalogy Reviews

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"A detailed and original analysis of hundreds of scales and modes that throws new light on their formation and use."
Tim Richards - author Exploring Jazz Piano Vols 1 & 2, Schott Music / Hal Leonard

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"A supercharged compendium of all things modal. Reading Modalogy will stretch your brain beyond our conventional musical solar system."
Dave Frank - author Joy of Improv Series, Hal Leonard

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"A microscopic examination and logical formalization of twentieth century music. Having played several kinds of world music, I must say that Modalogy opens new perspectives for any musician in the world, from East to West and from North to South. Bravo!"
Nor Eddine Bahha
Composer, arranger and world music researcher
Co-Author Jazzology: The Encyclopedia of Jazz Theory for All Musicians
, Hal Leonard

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Excellent book"
Paris Rutherford
Regents Professor in Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas
Author The Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Hal Leonard

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Highly advanced (yet highly practical!) knowledge. I fully recommend it! It starts where Berklee’s modal thing ends, and goes way further."
Adam Neely - Bassist and Composer
Berklee College of Music graduate summa cum laude (Jazz Composition), Manhattan School of Music

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

Mark Levine - author The Jazz Theory Book, Sher Music

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Modalogy is a killer text. Check it out. Incredible!!!!"
Vic Juris - author Modern Chords: Advanced Harmony for Guitar, Mel Bay Publications

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"A very thorough and well written book on the science of modes and scales."
Scot Ranney - author Jazz Piano Notebook,

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Don't pass on this, you MUST have it!"

"This book is filled with lots of golden nuggets relating to modes, modal chord progressions and beyond. The modal chord progression tables for each mode are worth the price of the book ALONE. It covers so much more than just modes and progressions though. It takes you pretty far!

It may seem a little intimidating at first due to some of the chosen nomenclature, but that really only applies to when a concept or advanced chord and so on are introduced to you (like in the chapter titles). The meat and potatoes of this text are in plain ol' English. You'll have no problem absorbing the material contained herein as it's communicated very well.

The book starts off with a (necessary) brief overview of Pentatonic scales. It then walks you through an evolution which takes the Pentatonic scale, morphs it into the major scale, then into its modes, and way beyond as well. It's rather eye-opening to see just how similar one scale or one chord progression is to another, how they're all functioning and how they interrelate.

If you're a composer, songwriter or theory book addict, you'll definitely want this in your collection as it demystifies a lot of material and answers a lot of your questions. You'll be able to tinker around with some really 'colorful' stuff after diving into this one. "

Jared Gardner - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Modalogy, a deep study of musical symmetry.
A worthy must-have book !!"

"As a professional jazz pianist, author of a text on jazz harmony, and professor for nearly thirty years, I am always intrigued by new work in this field, and was pleased to encounter Jeff Brent's (with Schell Barkley) Modalogy.

After taking some time studying and working with the contents, I've come to the conclusion that this is a profoundly important text not only for jazz players and teachers, but for all musicians. Modalogy provides layer upon layer upon layer of information and logic that beckons the reader to return time and time again.

As the title suggests, the book contains an in depth analysis of modes, with their sources, characteristics, and modal cadences. Along with diatonic modes, the method for establishing commonly used chromatic modes, is unique, refreshing, brilliant, yet in the end, simply applied.

The authors, have developed a Dorian-centric approach to a radially generated cycle (in contrary motion style), which builds a truly symmetrical inside/ outside take on harmony and dissonance. Through this approach, Brent/Barkely take a fresh and somewhat unconventional approach to the organization of scale types, classifying them using a basic color system portrayed over a cube design. It will give the reader a lot to think about, but it works.

The appendix broadens the scope for application of this material into a large body of detailed related information that the reader will find helpful in practicing.

The topics and concepts are presented plainly and clearly in an approachable and down to-earth manner, with great attention to detail. Although of benefit to serious students beginning a study of jazz harmony and improvisation, the text has much to offer advanced students and teachers. Modalogy offers and expansive study that will inspire and challenge for years to come and I highly recommend it."

Charles Austin - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"This is a must have."

"This book provides thorough explanation of the derivation of scales and modes. In doing so, it gives you that starting point you've been looking for to branch out.Through clear, very concise explanations you inevitably explore new areas that you would not have otherwise. Mine is tattered, stained and hunched over because I never stop going back to it for reference and new ideas. It is hands down a unique and user friendly alternative way to looking at music and internalizing its very core."

Amazon Customer 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Yes, a must have."

"I have been studying music theory from several different authors for the past 10 years. I was frustrated in the beginning because nothing really delved into the study of scales, in particular the older church modes. This book does this and so much more, and there are some very interesting new concepts which I think should be explored by all musicians. Must Have!"

S Harris - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"This book is for musicians who know what works ..... but also want to know why....?"

"Not for the faint-hearted!!! The authors know their stuff and present it concisely and precisely. The music theory is set out logically and they provide the underpinning rationale for the scales and the relationships between them all.

There are many books which attempt to provide a unified theory of music, and I have usually given up with them after a few attempts.

Modalogy is worth persisting with. I have found that browsing through it is very rewarding, so far, and I have learnt a lot in a short time by doing this. Sometimes it is really helpful to see something explained in a slightly different way to make it all make sense.

I think this book will be of most interest to a musician who has a good grounding but wants to explore the theoretical and fundamental aspects of music in order to improve their playing or composition "

smartyfun - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"A different slant on familiar territory. Time will tell ..."

"A different slant on familiar territory. Time will tell what the implications will be for me in terms of composition/improvisation. Definitely an interesting read, though."

Konrad Breuers - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Music theory in a logical way"

"The book starts from utter basics and explains how the musical scale is formed from harmonics, building theory on the fundamental physics of sound. Such a breath of fresh air compared to other books I've seen which drop one straight into common practice theory with no explanation of how one got there.

Despite this, the book moves deep into harmony and offers a very clear view of a wide range of scales, modes, chordal relationships in a visually graspable format with a minimum of unnecessary verbiage.

A fab musical reference book and study aid"

Alice - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"Cracking book"

"Great book, will broaden your mind and compositional creativity."

DeGrale - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

"A quite complete work on modalism. However, it has to be read carefully because some explanations are a bit difficult to understand in a first reading. But it is excellent."

(original text in Portuguese)
"Uma obra bastante completa sobre modalismo. Porém, tem que ser lida com atenção, pois algumas explicações são um pouco difíceis de entender em uma primeira leitura. Mas é excelente.

Antonio Alvim - 5-star review on the 'Modalogy' page at

MODALOGY - unified field theory of scales

Foreword to 'Modalogy'

by Dr. Robert Rawlins
Coordinator of Music Theory and Chair of the Department of Music at Rowan University
Author of Jazzology: The Encyclopedia of Jazz Theory for All Musicians (with N.E. Bahha)
and A Simple and Direct Guide to Jazz Improvisation

This is a book for musicians who are passionate about their craft - so passionate that they want to know where it comes from, how it works, and what its possibilities are. This volume is not a casual read, but if you want to thoroughly understand the melodic and harmonic functions of scales and modes, Brent and Barkley will take you on a fascinating journey.

'Modalogy' begins, well, at the very beginning, with a look at some basic laws of physics involving intervals and the overtone series. Through a step-by-step process, the authors go on to trace the evolution of the pentatonic scale, major scale, modes, and ultimately all of the scales commonly employed by jazz musicians.

Throughout the discussion, they make it clear that all scales (yes, even symmetrical scales - and there are more than you think!) are formed as logical extensions of the basic major scale modes, which themselves are simply collections of consonant fourths derived from the overtone series.

The advantage to examining a scale in terms of its derivation and component parts is that you gain a basic understanding of its inherent characteristics and why it behaves the way it does. The authors elaborate on this as they discuss the cadences and progressions of the various modes one-by-one. We may know from experience that bII-i cadences are effective in Phrygian modes, while bVII-i cadences work well in Aeolian modes, but few of us have explored the reasons why.

The section on The Chromatic Modes is challenging, but also fascinating and worth delving into. The only 'criticism' I could conjure up was, "Well, I don't think of it that way, but I wonder what other possibilities these concepts might open up for me?"

This book has been carefully thought out, and explores musical relationships that many of us never dreamed were possible. Few individuals, including musicians, take the time to discover or appreciate the innate mathematical beauty of how music is put together. 'Unified field theory' is an appropriate subtitle for this volume. It's just uncanny how the surface complexity of music reduces to utter simplicity and sheer logic.

Although some will read the volume cover-to-cover (not at one sitting!), others will find it more suited as a reference work. The copious appendices cover a broad array of topics with clear tables and charts.

If your approach to music theory is, "I know what works, but I want to know why and what else I might explore," then this is the book for you.

Dec. 18, 2010

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