Articles, Blog

How to Use Musical Modes to Change Moods in Film Scoring | Tim Huling | Berklee Online

February 13, 2020

If we think about the film music of John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and Thomas Newman. We find surprisingly different musical choices among these composers. However, one thing they all have in common, is their utilization of modes. I have found also that the modes are a deeply expressive potential source for musical ideas. What I’m going to do here is demonstrate that by moving through a series of parallel modes, that will move us through a wide variety of moods and spirit. I’ll start with the Aeolian mode, and then move to the Dorian mode, followed by Phrygian, and then Lydian. So I begin with Aeolian, you playing a C minor and F minor chords [MUSIC] which gives us classic minor sound, sad maybe even tragic. From there, I went to Dorian, playing almost the same chord progression, except the F minor chord becomes F major [MUSIC] F minor, [MUSIC] is now F major. So here we hear a more hopeful sound. [MUSIC] After that, I move directly into the Phrygian mode, playing a b5 minor chord, which perhaps has a sense of the exotic. [MUSIC] Finally, we returned to see that I played a C major chord, adding this Lydian effect. [MUSIC] The Lydian adds a sense of wonderment, perhaps. So you can see how moving through different parallel modes can shift us through different moods, which is quite useful when scoring a scene, which is probably shifting moods itself. Listen for this technique used by the composers of your favorite film music. [MUSIC]


  • Reply Eph-Jay Music February 12, 2020 at 2:30 am


  • Reply Trap Town NCS February 12, 2020 at 2:32 am

    Goob job! ­čÖé Keep it up! Would you like to be YouTube friends? :]

  • Reply Weston February 12, 2020 at 2:40 am

    lovely video

  • Reply quatro February 12, 2020 at 3:14 am


  • Reply ArgoBeats February 12, 2020 at 4:04 am

    Beautiful, thank you Mr. Huling. More one modes in song writing, please!

  • Reply eric ross February 12, 2020 at 5:53 am

    how do you knows which chords to you in which modes? or is it random?

  • Leave a Reply