Modes and Monophony
Beginning on a low C (C3 for men, C4 for women),1 sing the melody of “Home on the Range” (it starts “Oh, give me a home”). You will be in the key of F and you will end on the note F. Starting again from the F, in the same key, sing the melody of “On Top of Old Smokey.” You probably noticed that the first one was easy to sing while the second one was uncomfortably high. It would seem more natural for the second tune to be transposed down a perfect fourth or a perfect fifth to begin on low C (C3 for men, C4 for women) or even low Bb (Bb2 for men, Bb3 for women). Now try “Home on the Range” beginning on F4 (F3 for men). Unless you have an unusually high voice, you will wish you were in a lower key.