Hypodorian mode on D (only missing the high B) Play.

The Hypodorian mode, a musical term literally meaning 'below Dorian', derives its name from a tonos or octave species of ancient Greece which, in its diatonic genus, is built from a tetrachord consisting (in rising direction) of a semitone followed by two whole tones. The rising scale for the octave is a single tone followed by two conjoint tetrachords of this type. This is roughly the same as playing all the white notes of a piano from A to A: A | B C D E | (E) F G A. Although this scale in medieval theory was employed in Dorian and Hypodorian, from the mid-sixteenth century and in modern music theory they came to be known as the Aeolian and Hypoaeolian modes.[1]

The term Hypodorian came to be used to describe the second mode of Western church music.[2] This mode is the plagal counterpart of the authentic first mode, which was also called Dorian. The ecclesiastical Hypodorian mode was defined in two ways: (1) as the diatonic octave species from A to A, divided at the mode final D and composed of a lower tetrachord of tone–semitone–tone, ending on D, plus a pentachord tone–semitone–tone–tone continuing from D, and (2) as a mode whose final was D and whose ambitus was G–B (that is, with B below the final and B above it). In addition, the note F, corresponding to the reciting note or tenor of the second psalm tone, was regarded as an important secondary center.[2]


  1. ^ Grove Dict. M&M 2001, "Mode, III: Modal Theories and Polyphonic Music, 4: Systems of 12 Modes, (ii) Glarean’s 12 Modes, (a) The 12 Modal Octave Species and Their Greek names" by Harold S. Powers.
  2. ^ a b Grove Dict. M&M 2001, "Hypodorian" by Harold S. Powers.