J. Harting

Thoughts on Music

THE MAJOR AND MINOR SCALES

A scale could be defined as any successive series of tones that encompass an octave.  The 8 note major and minor scales are a western concept.  In other cultures there are 5 note scales (i.e., 5 notes from C to the C an octave above), 7 note scales, 12 note scales, 31 note scales, 24 note scales, etc.

The scale we use today is called an equal tempered scale.  It didn’t come about until the 18th C.  (well, okay, there were theorists who advocating for it in the 1600’s) and wasn’t the standard until the 19th C.  The scale is tuned so that every interval of the scale is equal.  For example, all the half steps are the same distance:  the “distance” from E-F is the exact same distance as that from C#-D which is the exact same distance as that from A-Bb, etc.  Also, the distance from C-F (a perfect 4th) is the exact same distance as that from (B-E), etc. for all intervals.  Continued here: Why not WWWWW?

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