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A modal frame in music is "a number of types permeating and unifying African, European, and Americansong" and melody. It may also be called a melodic mode. "Mode" and "frame" are used interchangeably in this context without reference to scalar or rhythmic modes. Melodic modes define and generate melodies that are not determined by harmony, but purely by melody. A note frame, is a melodic mode that is atonic (without a tonic), or has an unstable tonic.
Modal frames may be defined by their:
floor note: the bottom of the frame, felt to be the lowest note, though isolated notes may go lower,
ceiling note: the top of the frame,
central note: the center around which other notes cluster or gravitate,
upper or lower focus: portion of the mode on which the melody temporarily dwells, and can also defined by melody types, such as:
According to Middleton, the song, "at first glance major-key-with-modal-touches", reveals through its "Line of Latent Mode" "a deep kinship with typical blues melodic structures: it is centred on three of the notes of the minor-pentatonic mode [on C: C, E-flat, F, G, B-flat] (E♭-G-B♭), with the contradictory major seventh (B♮) set against that. Moreover, the shape assumed by these notes - the modal frame - as well as the abstract scale they represent, is revealed, too; and this - an initial, repeated circling round the dominant (G), with an excursion to its minor third (B♭), 'answered' by a fall to the 'symmetrical' minor third of the tonic (E♭)[clarification needed] - is a common pattern in blues."