Ancient Mode

Ancient Mode is an artificial scale constructed and used by Djuro Zivkovic in his compositions since 2004 (the first example in Sophisticated Preludes for piano solo). Because of its vibrating, echoing sound, Djuro Zivkovic named it “ancient”, as an echo of the past.


The mode is constructed around the central tone, thus creating a “mirroring” scale:

Ancient mode

The mode is similar to Messiaen’s second mode, however the ancient mode has nine tones, with dense half steps around the central tone. The central tone is not ‘finalis’, neither the tonic, it is just constructed in that particular way.

The mode can be transposed 12 times. It is possible to use the tonal harmonic principles for modulation, such as diatonic, chromatic or enharmonic modulation between these modes. The far-most modulation can be achieved in the distance of M3 (E – Ab – C).


The ancient mode has extremely diverse chordal possibilities. It includes a multitude of tonal associations and can create clusters, minor and major chords, pentatonic scale, diminished and augmented chords, and near-to complete the major and minor scale. Comparing to all modes that can be made using by combining 7 or 8 or 9 tones within the frame of octave (all their possible combinations), the ancient mode has the lowest difference-tone integrity.

The difference-tone integrity¬†means that the ancient mode produces many difference-tones outside itself; we could also say that this is phenomenolgical richness in reference! The highest difference-tone integrity has Messiaen’s third mode, which is the opposite attitude: it refers strongly to itself. Within 8 tone scales Messiaen second also has low the difference-tone integrity.

Investigating scale classes with 7 tones shows that major and (it’s related) has the highest difference-tone integrity, which is opposite to the ancient mode. Thus, the lowest¬†difference-tone integrity of the ancient mode may be the reason of it’s vibrating sound.

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