Angela Thirkell and Mixolydians

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Aug 28 18:42:11 EDT 2004


Margaret Ball wrote:

>weak on music theory here, but why couldn't you write a piece in
>Mixolydian mode for flute? (but then I can't figure out how you would be
>able to tell Mixolydian G major from regular C major. Ok, ok, I already
>admitted I'm shaky on music theory.)

Because I haven't read the Mageworlds books I have no idea whether Debra
Doyle and James MacDonald were indulging in obscure(ish) reference to
Thirkell, or just meant the fourth of the 'authentic' ecclesiastical modes.
Maybe Roger has ideas about this?

It's only awkward because the Mixolydian mode is real, left over from the
ancient Greek or something, and Lydia was a real place, but there wasn't a
country called "Mixolydia" as far as I know.  So that she wouldn't risk
offending anyone from any real country, Angela Thirkell invented it and the
neighbouring country, Slavolydia, to be the places from which all the
refugees in England during and just after WWII came.

The Mixolydians wanted to slaughter all the Slavolydians out of hand once
the war was over, and vice versa.  There's a passage in one of the books in
which Gradka (the main Mixolydian) is rejoicing because they have expelled
the Slavolydians from her country by putting them in a train and taking it
to the border and then just letting it go, which since the border is at the
top of a high pass in the mountains and the train is made up of coaches
without brakes has been a great triumph for Democracy.  Or words to that
effect.  I may have the details wrong, but the general tone of relations
between the countries is clear.

(Thirkell is fair game anyway, if they were using one of her ideas: her
books are set in Barsetshire, and a lot of the characters in them are
descendents of people written by Anthony Trollope.)

Minnow


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