Jerome S. Colburn sez:
| > I agree that the tune "sounds" more major than a good number of mixolydian
| > tunes,
| Which is just my point: some tunes called "mixolydian" sound more like
| conventional-major-with-an-exception than others do.
| Why should the notion be so outrageous that within the categories of
| "dorian", "mixolydian", etc. -- which we get, after all, by first
| misapplying the names of the ancient Greek harmoniai to the Latin rite
| chant modes and then misapplying the chant modes to Irish tunes -- there
| should be more subtle modal distinctions between tunes?
Nothing at all outrageous about that; it's generally true. Most
musical traditions include a lot of tunes that switch keys and/or
modes. Sometimes the key/mode changes are subtle or fleeting; other
times they are strong and obvious.
The Celtic tradition happens to use four standard modes, and many
tunes switch modes or waver between modes or have ambiguous passages.
Others change in a way that's clear. The Red-Haired Boy is a tune
that to many ears sounds like it wavers between A major and A
Mixolydian, and that's fairly common. Hereabouts in New England, one
of the well-known tunes is Old French, whose two parts both have a
key signature of two sharps, but the first half is D major and the
second half is A Mixolydian. This is also fairly normal, similar to
changing from G major to E minor in some other musical styles.
Another subtle example: Many people play King of the Fairies in E
"minor" with C naturals in the first part and C sharps in the second
part. This means that the first part is really in E Aeolian, while
the second part is in E Dorian. As I said, it's subtle, but hardly
unusual in Irish music. Keep your ears open, and you'll hear lots of
examples like this.