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Written by Oleksandr Gavenko (AKA gavenkoa), compiled on 2017-01-30 from rev ccaa2f364422+.


Music scale.

Scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch.

Scale ordered by increasing pitch is an ascending scale, and a scale ordered by decreasing pitch is a descending scale.

The distance between two successive notes in a scale is called a scale step.

For Western music with 12 tones in octave used several definition of steps:

  • semitone, half step is 2^(1/12)
  • whole step, whole tone, major second is 2^(2/12)

Chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone above or below another. On a modern piano or other equal-tempered instrument, all the semitones have the same size (100 cents). In other words, the notes of an equal-tempered chromatic scale are equally spaced.

Diatonic scale (or heptatonia prima) is a scale composed of seven distinct pitch classes: 2–2–1–2–2–2–1.

Minor scale: 2-1-2-2-1-2-2.

Pentatonic major scale: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6. Pentatonic minor scale: 1, ♭3, 4, 5, ♭7.

The eight degrees of the diatonic scale are also known by traditional names:

  • 1st degree – Tonic (key note)
  • 2nd degree – Supertonic
  • 3rd degree – Mediant
  • 4th degree – Subdominant
  • 5th degree – Dominant
  • 6th degree – Submediant
  • 7th degree – Leading tone
  • 8th degree – Tonic (Octave)

Intervals names:

The notes of a scale are numbered by their steps from the root of the scale.

Often, especially in the context of the common practice period, most or all of the melody and harmony of a musical work is built using the notes of a single scale, which can be conveniently represented on a staff with a standard key signature.
Common-practice harmony is almost always derived from diatonic scales and tends to follow particular chord progressions that have withstood the test of time.