The project

An innovative and unique project in France


The construction of an educational portal for modal music was initiated in 2015 by Drom organisation in order to gather knowledge on modal music. The main aim is to describe the functioning of modal understanding in so-called popular and learned music of the world and to be able, sometimes, to find a family resemblance there. In continuation of the work carried out by artists from Brittany in particular via Kreiz Breizh Akademi, the specificity of this portal is to include European music in its corpus.



Popular music in Brittany has recognized that it belongs to the world of modal music! Beyond this slightly too thundering statement, we can say that many popular artists of Breton music have recognized that the object of their work was enriched by this consideration. Drom organisation - which has been working for a long time on modal understanding and the exchanges it allows with other musical cultures - has taken up the question and has chosen to build this portal for modal music.

Many questions on the definitions of modality often led to overly musicological answers and using a vocabulary more related to the tonal (harmonic) sense. Rather than trying to explain only with often very complex words, we have chosen for the portal to place a work at the center of listening and to describe the different movements.

The work, in video or audio support is the very object of discovery. Words only arrive when and as the visitor wishes, according to the chosen description level.

We've been working with artists, researchers in musicology, pedagogues and music teachers from different cultures to build a tool, a working base that we are going to fill with dozens of examples in order to give to this portal the geographic and artistic dimension it deserves.

This project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund  (ERDF) which in 2016 awarded a grant of €57K for an initial investment of €121K over 5 years.

Why this platform?


This educational portal for modal music aims to introduce and help to teach modal music in its diversity. It proceeds from a need to strengthen the plurality and dissemination of knowledge in music education in France, taking into account popular music of oral tradition. It thus covers an area going from regional music from France to certain modal scholarly music practiced with little or no written support, such as classical Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Indian music. Presenting the specific features of these musics is often a challenge as the vocabulary and habits of musical education used in Europe quickly draw us into a tonal vision. In some cases, relationships with European modal music from the past are also exposed.

The educational portal for modal music aims to bring together and complement the knowledge produced on these subject to transmit it via an online resource platform, accessible to various audiences. It invites the user to discover and understand the concept of modality in different musical heritages: the examples presented come from as many non-European as European musical repertoires. Each module is dedicated to a modal musical tradition and begins with an audio or audio-visual recording which is gradually analyzed and contextualized by one or more researchers and performers in the concerned field. Links are proposed between the different modules to allow an easy navigation between the musical examples. The portal is designed to be upgradeable by continuously integrating additional content.


This project carries a strong originality at national as well as international level. While there already exists digital tools for initiation to various musical genres, there is no educational digital site based on both current knowledge in modal music and in didactics, which can constitute a device for transmitting modal music and the culture from which it proceeds. As an open device, covering a wide range of musical practices, this portal also consists in an innovative project in the context of the teaching and dissemination of ethnomusicological knowledge.

For which audiences?

The portal is aimed at music lovers and students as well as teachers, at experienced musicians as well as (ethno)musicologists.

What can this portal bring you?

=> You're a teacher


On this portal, you will find many educational resources based on examples considered emblematic, to approach modal musical cultures with your students and allow them new listening experiences and a progressive discovery of fascinating musical universes.

In addition to the audio and video material offered online, you will have access to well-informed texts providing simple definitions of the musical terms used and detailed analyzes of the pieces and modes presented, as well as historical, social and organological landmarks.

You will find popular songs from France and easily accessible analyzes that will allow you to integrate these local pieces into your teaching. Created in 2001, Drom organisation aims to promote and transmit popular cultures of oral tradition and modal music. Since 2012, it has initiated transmission and awareness actions on modal music through meetings and educational training with various artists. On this model, the association will propose to partners wishing to subscribe to this approach to explore learning models based on orality and to discover the world of modal music from actions of animation and training related to the platform. Support for music teachers interested in the project is indeed desired.

=> You are a musician

You will find on this portal explanations and illustrations of different modal musical systems emphasizing the structural principles as well as the processes of melodic and rhythmic development and improvisation of the music presented through emblematic examples, texts and audio recordings. Visuals produced by specialists in the field. Different levels of analysis are available so that you can find explanations compatible with your musical knowledge. The ethnomusicological approach as well as the understanding of modal cultures and the world of the orality which accompanies it can only enrich your own artistic practice by promoting the creative processes beyond the limits of the tonal universe.

How ?

A team of researchers from various laboratories from different disciplines (ethnomusicology, anthropology, musicology, didactics and musical computing) was brought together in a coordination committee by the DROM association which also brought together practitioners and teachers engaged for a long time in the transmission of modal repertoires, under the artistic and pedagogical coordination of the singer Erik Marchand. The creation of a coordinating committee bringing together recognized experts and teachers, with varied and transversal skills, from complementary scientific and artistic fields, undoubtedly constitutes the original aspect of this project.

Through their members, several research laboratories have supported the development of the portal: the Center for Research on Learning, Teaching, and Didactics (CREAD EA n ° 3875) of the University of Western Brittany, the laboratory "Music, Arts: Practical and poetic" (EA 3208) from the University of Rennes 2 and the Musicology Research Institute (IReMus).