Historically, when did melodic minor replace natural minor?
Date: October 21, 2015
Today I started working on Pat-a-pan with my 3rd graders, and was reminded that I usually prefer the natural, modal minors in "early" music. We're using Merrill Staton's arrangement, copyright 1987 by Rockhaven Music, in the Macmillan/McGraw-Hill grade 3 textbook Spotlight on Music.
The melody is in the aeolian mode, but with a sharped seventh: "Willie take your little drum, Robin bring your flute and come; Play a joy-ous tune today..." The second syllable of "joy-ous" is the sharped seventh, and to my ears it sounds much better not sharped.
Pat-a-pan was written by Bernard de la Monnoye and published in France in 1720. Does anyone know whether he wrote it with the sharped seventh? Or could someone who knows more about this subject than I do, make an educated guess?
My second, more general question relates to folk songs in the oral tradition, and to melodies in the old church modes that were later arranged and reused. When, or under what circumstances were these altered by sharping the seventh? Was it only when later arrangements were made using newer harmonizations? Was it done by scholars intent on "improving" or "correcting" the music from earlier times? We can see how this process occurred during the evolution of American hymnals over the last two centuries, and during the transcription and harmonization of folk songs in the last century. Or did there come a time when the harmonic milieu had developed to the point that there was a shift in what the general public liked and valued? What was going on--melodically and modally--in the 16th century and earlier, in the world of simple songs?
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