Scales and Key Signatures
A scale is a sequence of musical notes in ascending and descending order. Most commonly, especially in the context of the common practice period (1600-1900), the notes of a scale will belong to a single key, thus providing material for or being used to conveniently represent part or all of a musical work including melody and/or harmony. Scales are ordered in pitch or pitch class, with their ordering providing a measure of musical distance. Scales are divided, based on the intervals between the notes they contain major and minor. When you play or sing a scale, there is a beginning pitch and an order to the remaining notes that corresponds to the musical alphabet. For example C D E F G A B C. Chromatic collection- all twelve pitch classes. When the chromatic collection is ordered, it becomes the chromatic scale. We write the chromatic scale with adjacent pitches equally spaced a half step apart. That means the chromatic scale is symmetrical. A symmetrical scale divides the entire octave into a pattern of whole (W) and/or half (H) steps that is the same from start to middle as from middle to end. We call each pitch of the scale a scale degree or scale step. When you write or play a scale, its beginning note- called tonic- is usually repeated one octave higher at the end. As you begin to analyze music, it is helpful to refer to specific scale degrees by number or name. Scale-degree numbers are customarily written with a caret above(ˆ). Some sight-singing methods encourage singing on scale-degree numbers. Another method, movable-do solfège, or solfège for short, gives each scale degree a syllable- do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do.
All major scales share the same pattern of whole and half steps between adjacent notes: W-W-H-W-W-W-H. There are three “forms” of the minor scale. Natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor. In harmonic minor you raise the 7 scale degree. In melodic minor you raise the 6 and 7 scale degrees....
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