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Chromatic scale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone above or below its adjacent pitches. As a result, in 12-tone equal temperament (the most common temperament in Western music), the chromatic scale covers all 12 of the available pitches. Thus, there is only one chromatic scale.

Moreover, in equal temperament, all the semitones have the same size (100 cents). As a result, the notes of an equal-tempered chromatic scale are equally-spaced. This makes the chromatic scale a nondiatonic scale with no tonic because of the symmetry of its equally-spaced notes.[1]

The ascending and descending chromatic scale is shown below.

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
\relative c' {
  \clef treble \time 12/4
  c4^\markup { Ascending } cis d dis e f fis g gis a ais b
  c^\markup { Descending } b bes a aes g ges f e es d des c
  }

}

The term chromatic derives from the Greek word chroma, meaning color.

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Transcription

Contents

Notation

Chromatic scale drawn as a circle
Chromatic scale drawn as a circle

The chromatic scale has no set enharmonic spelling that is always used. Its spelling is, however, often dependent upon major or minor key signatures and whether the scale is ascending or descending. In general, the chromatic scale is usually notated with sharp signs when ascending and flat signs when descending. It is also notated so that no scale degree is used more than twice in succession (for instance, G – G – G).

Other tunings

The most common conception of the chromatic scale before the 13th century was the Pythagorean chromatic scale (About this soundPlay ). Due to a different tuning technique, the twelve semitones in this scale have two slightly different sizes. Thus, the scale is not perfectly symmetric. Many other tuning systems, developed in the ensuing centuries, share a similar asymmetry.

In Pythagorean tuning (3-limit just intonation) the chromatic scale is tuned as follows, with sharps higher than their enharmonic flats:

C D C D E D E F G F G A G A B A B C
1 256243 21872048 98 3227 1968316384 8164 43 1024729 729512 32 12881 65614096 2716 169 5904932768 243128 2

These are 17-EDO Pythagorean tuning approximations.

In 5-limit just intonation the chromatic scale, Ptolemy's intense chromatic scale, is as follows, with flats higher than their enharmonic sharps, and new notes between E/F and B/C:

C C D D D E E E/F F F G G G A A A B B B/C C
1 2524 1615 98 7564 65 54 3225 43 2518 3625 32 2516 85 53 12572 95 158 4825 2

The fractions ​98 and ​109, ​65 and ​3227, ​54 and ​8164, ​43 and ​2720, and many other pairs are interchangeable, as ​8180 (syntonic comma) is tempered out. These are 19-EDO just intonation approximations.

Non-Western cultures

The ancient Chinese chromatic scale is called Shí-èr-lǜ. However, "it should not be imagined that this gamut ever functioned as a scale, and it is erroneous to refer to the 'Chinese chromatic scale', as some Western writers have done. The series of twelve notes known as the twelve were simply a series of fundamental notes from which scales could be constructed."[2]

The Indian solfège, i.e. sargam, makes up the twelve notes of the chromatic scale with respective sharps and flats.

See also

Sources

  1. ^ Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.47. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
  2. ^ Needham, Joseph (1962/2004). Science and Civilization in China, Vol. IV: Physics and Physical Technology, p.170-171. ISBN 978-0-521-05802-5.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 14 October 2018, at 15:13
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