Singing Our Musical Rainbow!

A Workshop Exploring Musical Modes and Moods

Imagine if you didn’t know the names of the colors in the rainbow?  

A Sound by Any Other Name would Sound the Same… A Mood by Any Other Name would Feel as Real…

What: Serene, meditative singing in community, feeling and comparing musical modes from India and the West.
When: Wednesdays 10/5-10/26, 7-8:30
Where: Sebastopol Grange & via Zoom
Who: Taught by Linton Hale, sung by all of us together!
Cost: Between $100 and $20 for all 4 weeks ($25 to $5 per week), you choose!

For most of us, even many trained musicians, this is our experience of music: We don’t know the names of the colors of our musical rainbow.  We are intimately familiar with the sound and feeling of eight or a dozen or so musical color schemes, yet we don’t know their names. Beyond that, we can’t recognize them as individuals, nor can we work with them to express our family of sonic possibilities!

In this workshop we will gently sing our most familiar musical modes, slowly and simply soaking in each of their moods, experiencing the emotional space each has to offer.  This will be a meditative vocal group, a sound experience not a theory class.  Explanation and discussion will be kept to a minimum.

Singing long tones and intervals in the spirit of devotion and gratitude, we will give time for each of us to listen fully, tune in, and deeply feel each tone and the choice of tones that make each mode/mood.  Over the four weekly sessions, we will catch the buzz of the seven “Western modes”, vibrate along with our most common five note scales, and sync up with a few related scales found in the music of India.

Out of an infinite number of colors in the rainbow, we use just 7 names for our basic colors.  In much the same way, from Ireland to India, out of an infinite number of pitches, we use just seven names for our musical notes.  In the European tradition we use the names Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, and Ti.  In Hindustani music we use the names Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni.   

With remarkable simplicity we humans can create such depth!  Would you like to get more familiar with our musical rainbow?

Come sing and feel with us!  This is fun!

Western mode diagrams

Comparing Western modes and Hindustani thaats

Examples of tunes in various Western modes and thaats


Linton Hale studied Western music theory and composition growing up. One day, while backpacking around Ireland, he picked up a penny whistle and realized you can only play Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme starting from one particular note. He began to be inspired by the simplicity and depth of our musical modes. 

After moving to California, he started playing the bamboo flute and found that the Hindustani bansuri bamboo flute has exactly the same scale and fingering as the penny whistle! He studied Hindustani music, mostly with Sri Jeff Whittier, a bit with our beloved teachers G.S. Sachdev and Ustad Ali Akbar Khansahib, and he traveled to Bombay to study a bit with Raghunath Seth and Hariprasad Chaurasia.  Here’s Linton playing a short rendition of Rag Yaman

He loves intentional intonation, and sharing the exploration of our musical moods!


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