In the theory of Western music, mode (from Latin modus, "measure, standard, manner, way, size, limit of quantity, method") (Powers 2001, Introduction; OED) generally refers to a type of scale, coupled with a set of characteristic melodic behaviours. This usage, still the most common in recent years, reflects a tradition dating to the Middle Ages, itself inspired by the theory of ancient Greek music. The word encompasses several additional meanings, however. Authors from the ninth century until the early eighteenth century sometimes employed the Latin modus for interval. In the theory of late-medieval mensural polyphony, modus is a rhythmic relationship between long and short values or a pattern made from them (Powers 2001, Introduction). Since the end of the eighteenth century, the term "mode" has also applied—in ethnomusicological contexts—to pitch structures in non-European musical cultures, sometimes with doubtful compatibility (Powers 2001, §V,1). Regarding the concept of mode as applied to pitch relationships generally, Harold S. Powers describes a continuum between abstract scale and specific tune, with "most of the area between ... being in the domain of mode" (Powers 2001, §I,3).
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“A man of genius has a right to any mode of expression.”
—Ezra Pound (18851972)