Is this information correct on piano scales?

Scales and scales

The following names for scales and scales are often found in music studies. Click on the respective explanations for information on the structure and special features of the respective tone sequence or take a look at the practical procedure if you want to quickly determine the accidentals of a scale.

Tetrachords

A tetrachord (from τετρα = four and chorda = string) is a scale made up of only four tones. The most common today are tetrachords in which only whole and semitone steps occur:

1st semitone last

The tetrachord with the structure whole tone (= 2 semitone steps) - whole tone (2) - semitone (= 1 semitone step) is also known as a major tetrachord because the major scale begins with it:

2. Half step in the middle

The tetrachord with the structure whole tone (2) - semitone (1) - whole tone (2) is also referred to as a minor tetrachord (or also: Doric tetrachord) because the minor scale (or the Doric scale) begins with it:

3rd semitone step first

The tetrachord with the structure semitone (1) - whole tone (2) - whole tone (2) is also known as the Phrygian tetrachord because the Phrygian scale begins with it:


Major scale

The Major scale can be understood as a composition of two major tetrachords:

Often the major scale is also explained as an excerpt (= 6 fifths) from the chain of fifths or from the tower of fifths. Another explanation arises from their interval structure or the sequence whole tone - whole tone - semitone - whole tone - whole tone - whole tone - semitone or in short notation 2-2-1-2-2-2-1 (2 = whole tone and 1 = semitone ). The first or lowest note of the major scale is called the root note:

This structure can be found on the piano between the white keys of the sound c out:

If you want to determine the tones of the major scale from a given tone, the best way to do this is to write down eight main tones (unsigned) from the given tone in a first step. For the sound d are these root tones for example: d-e-f-G-a-H-c-d (lower level in the figure below). Then check at which points the structure of the major scale deviates from the structure of the main tones:

The second tone step on the level of the root tones is, for example, a semitone step (1), but the second tone step for the major scale must be a whole step (2). To make this structure you need to f increase by half a tone, that is, to f sharp alter (= be changed chromatically). For the same reason, it must c to cis be altered. The notation of the D major scale on a staff is as follows:


Minor scales

The natural minor scale (or even just Minor scale) can be understood as a combination of the minor tetrachord (below) and the Phrygian tetrachord (above):

The natural minor scale can also be understood as an excerpt (= 6 fifths) from the chain of fifths or from the tower of fifths. The interval structure of the scale results in the sequence whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step or, in short, 2-1-2-2-1-2-2. The first or lowest note of the minor scale is the root note:

This structure can be found on the piano between the white keys of the sound a out:

If you want to determine the tones of the minor scale from a given tone, the best way to do this is to write down eight root tones (unsigned) from the given tone in a first step. For the sound d are these root tones, for example: d-e-f-G-a-H-c-d (lower level in the figure below). Then check at which points the structure of the minor scale deviates from the structure of the root tones:

The fifth step in the natural minor scale, for example, has to be a semitone step (1), but on the level of the root notes there is a whole step (2) at this set. That is, for the structure of the natural minor scale, that H lowered by half a tone, so to b must be altered (= chromatically changed). The notation of a D minor scale in the staff is as follows:

The melodic minor scale is an aid to be able to explain certain accidentals in very typical melodic expressions. The following note example shows the beginning of the two-part Invention in E minor BWV 778 by Johann Sebastian Bach on the left, on the right all notes of the example have been arranged into a scale. In this so-called melodic minor scale, the accidentals cis and dis which Bach used at the beginning of his E minor invention for melodic reasons:

The melodic minor scale can be understood as a combination of the minor tetrachord (below) and the major tetrachord (above); in the melodic minor scale, too, the first or lowest note is the fundamental:

Since the melodic minor scale is only an aid to explaining certain accidentals, this scale - unlike the natural minor scale, for example - does not have an independent key (you cannot, for example, specify a melodic E minor with a general signature). If you want to determine the tones of this scale, first calculate the tones of the natural minor scale and then increase the VI. and VII. scale level (for example, the notes in E minor c and d to cis and dis).

The harmonic minor scale is - like the melodic minor scale - an auxiliary construction to be able to explain the artificially increased conduction in a cadence over a scale:

The following example shows a cadence. The third of the subdominant in D minor f (6th note of the scale) and the third of the dominant E major g sharp (= Leading tone or raised 7th tone of the scale) are marked in red. These two tones, notated as a scale (in the example above) between the 6th and 7th note, result in an excessive second step (= 3 semitone steps):

Since the harmonic minor scale is only an aid to explaining the leading note, there is no separate key associated with this scale either (you cannot, for example, specify a harmonic A minor with a general signature). If you want to determine the tones of this scale, first calculate the tones of the natural minor scale and then increase the seventh scale level (or create an artificial leading tone with an accidental, for example in A minor by increasing the tone G to g sharp).

Practical procedure for major and minor scales:

The accidentals of a major or minor scale can be quickly determined with the following mottos:

  • Geh ' D.u A.older E.sel Hole F sharpche (for the major keys with # signatures)
  • F.rish B.reddish Itsen Asse OfGesangs (for the major keys with with b-prefixes)
  • ein Haif sharpch cischt g sharpela discreep on. (for the minor keys with # prefixes)
  • dhe Gad chor fured beim itsen (for the minor keys with b-prefixes)

Incidentally, the two proverbs for minor are dispensable if you count a minor third up from the minor scale you are looking for and determine the accidentals of the parallel major scale. Take, for example, F sharp minor or A major:

  • Write down the eight unsigned notes of f sharp or a: f, g, a, h, c, d, e, f or a, b, c, d, e, f, g and a.
  • Count the words of the first saying until the word with A. begins: "Geh ' D.u A.older «. The number of words results in the number of accidentals: A major has three sharps (and F sharp minor as a parallel minor scale has the same accidentals).
  • Take the first letters of the words: »Geh ' D.u A.older «than tones: g, d and a and determine the tone below: f (under g), c (under d) and g (under a).
    These tones (f, c and g) have to be increased by a #, the accidentals of A major (and also of F sharp minor) are called accordingly f sharp, cis and g sharp. Finally, note these crosses in a zigzag at the beginning of the system.

Or for example in E flat major (or C minor):

  • Write down the eight unsigned tones of es c or aus: e, f, g, a, b, c, d and e (or c, d, e, f, g, a, b, c).
  • Count the words until the word comes with It begins: »Fresh rolls Itsen «. The number of words results in the number of accidentals: E flat major has three B flat accidental (and C minor as a parallel minor scale has the same accidentals).
  • To determine which prefix you need, start the saying a word later (not with "freshness", but with "bread rolls") and count off three words again. Then it results: »B.reddish Itsen Asse «. The first letters of these words indicate the signs, they are called: b, it and as. Finally, write down the b's in a zigzag (as shown below) at the beginning of the system.

Church scales

Doric

The Doric scale can be understood as a composition of two minor tetrachords:

The Doric scale can also be understood as an excerpt (= 6 fifths) from the chain of fifths or from the tower of fifths. The interval structure of the scale results in the sequence whole step - semitone - whole step - whole step - whole step - semitone - whole step or, in short, 2-1-2-2-2-1-2.

This structure can be found on the piano between the white keys from the note d:

If you want to determine Doric from a given tone, the best way to do this is to write down eight root tones (unsigned) from the given tone in a first step. For the sound e are these root tones for example: e-f-G-a-H-c-d-e (lower level in the figure below). Then check at which points the Doric structure deviates from the structure of the main tones:

The first tone step on the level of the root tones is, for example, a semitone step (1), but for the Doric scale a whole step (2) is required here. To make this structure you have to f increase by half a tone, that is, to f sharp alter (= change chromatically). For the same reason it has to c to cis increase. The Phrygian scale of the tone e from is: e-f sharp-G-a-H-cis-d-e

The notation of the E Doric scale on a staff is as follows:

With regard old keys was between authentic and plagale Differentiated tones. The topic old keys is, however, much more complex than specifying a scale and is therefore discussed in a separate tutorial. If a scale is given for a church key, a more recent understanding of church keys is almost always meant that only refers to the notes of a scale (and that doesn't have much in common with the key signature of early music). Such an understanding is typical of jazz and, for example, also of the music of Béla Bartóks. The following piece from Bartók's microcosm is entitled »Dór hangsor« (Doric key) and uses - with the exception of the f sharp in the final chord, which is also known as the »Picardian third« - only notes of the Doric scale of d out:


Phrygian

The Phrygian scale can be understood as a composition of two Phrygian tetrachords:

The Phrygian scale can also be understood as an excerpt (= 6 fifths) from the chain of fifths or from the tower of fifths. The interval structure of the scale results in the sequence semitone - whole tone - whole tone - whole tone - semitone - whole tone - whole tone or, in short, 1-2-2-2-1-2-2.

This structure can be found on the piano between the white keys starting from the note e:

If you want to determine Phrygian from a given tone, the best way to do this is to write down eight root tones (unsigned) from the given tone in a first step. For the sound d are these root tones for example: d-e-f-G-a-H-c-d (lower level in the figure below). Then check at which points the Phrygian structure deviates from the structure of the root tones:

The first tone step on the level of the root tones is a whole step (2), but for the Phrygian scale a semitone step (1) is required here. To make this structure you need to e lower it by half a tone, that is, to it alter (= change chromatically). For the same reason, it must H to b to be humiliated. The Phrygian scale of the tone d so it reads: d-it-f-G-a-b-c-d

The notation of the D Phrygian scale on a staff is as follows:

With regard to the topic of ›Phrygian / old keys‹, what has been said in connection with Doric applies.


Lydian

The Lydian scale can be understood as a composition of three whole steps and a major tetrachord:

The Lydian scale can also be understood as a section (= 6 fifths) from the chain of fifths or from the tower of fifths. The interval structure of the scale results in the sequence whole step - whole step - whole step - semitone - whole step - whole step - semitone or, in short, 2-2-2-1-2-2-1.

This structure can be found on the piano between the white keys from the note f:

If you want to determine Lydian from a given tone, the best way to do this is to write down eight root tones (unsigned) from the given tone in a first step. For the sound d are these root tones for example: d-e-f-G-a-H-c-d (lower level in the figure below). Then check at which points the Lydian structure deviates from the structure of the root tones:

The second tone step on the level of the root tones is a semitone step (1), but for the Lydian scale a whole step (2) is required here. To make this structure you have to f increase by half a tone, that is, to f sharp alter (= change chromatically). And that too G must still be increased so that the three required whole steps can be heard from the d. Finally, increasing the c to cis needed to create the semitone step between the seventh and eighth scale degrees. The Lydian scale of the tone d from is: d-e-f sharp-g sharp-a-H-cis-d

The notation of the D Lydian scale on a staff is as follows:

With regard to the topic of ›Lydian / old keys‹, what has been said in connection with Doric applies.


Mixolydian

The Mixolydian scale can be understood as a combination of a major tetrachord and a minor tetrachord:

The Mixolydian scale can also be understood as an excerpt (= 6 fifths) from the chain of fifths or from the tower of fifths. The interval structure of the scale results in the sequence whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - half step - whole step or in short form 2-2-1-2-2-1-2.

This structure can be found on the piano between the white keys starting from the note g:

If you want to determine Mixolydian from a given tone, the best way to do this is to write down eight root tones (unsigned) from the given tone in a first step. For the sound d are these root tones for example: d-e-f-G-a-H-c-d (lower level in the figure below). Then check at which points the Mixolydian structure deviates from the structure of the main tones:

The second tone step on the level of the root tones is a semitone step (1), but for the Mixolydian scale a whole step (2) is required here. To make this structure you have to f increase by half a tone, that is, to f sharp alter (= change chromatically). The Mixolydian scale of the clay d from is: d-e-f sharp-G-a-H-c-d

The notation of the D Lydian scale on a staff is as follows:

With regard to the topic of ›Mixolydian / old keys‹, what has been said in connection with Doric applies.


Aeolian and Ionian

The aeolian scale has the same structure as the natural minor scale. With regard to the topic of ›Aeolian / old keys‹, what has been said in connection with the Doric applies.

The ionic scale has the same structure as the major scale. With regard to the topic ›Ionian / old keys‹, what has been said in connection with Doric applies.


Locrian

The Locrian scale can be understood as a combination of a Phrygian tetrachord and a Lydian tetrachord (three whole steps):

The locrian scale can also be understood as an excerpt (= 6 fifths) from the chain of fifths or from the tower of fifths. The interval structure of the scale results in the sequence semitone - whole tone - whole tone - semitone - whole tone - whole tone - whole tone or, in short, 1-2-2-1-2-2-2.

This structure can be found on the piano between the white keys from the note b:

If you want to determine locrian from a given tone, the best way to do this is to write down eight root tones (unsigned) from the given tone in a first step. For the sound d are these root tones for example: d-e-f-G-a-H-c-d (lower level in the figure below). Then check where the structure of the Locrian differs from the structure of the root tones:

The first tone step on the level of the root tones is a whole step (2), but here a semitone step (1) is required for the locrian scale. To make this structure you have to e lower it by half a tone, that is, to it alter (= change chromatically). The sounds too a and H must be sub-altered so that the locrian scale reads: d-it-f-G-as-b-c-d

The notation of the D Locrian scale on a staff is as follows:

Because of the diminished fifth Hf became the tone H Not used as finalis, so there is no ›old‹ Locrian key.

Practical procedure for church scales:

Note that all church modes have the same accidentals as C major (= no accidentals) on their natural base tones (Doric = d, Phrygian = e, Lydian = f, Mixolydian = g and Locrian = h). This means:

  • Doric has the same accidentals as the major scale one big second below (D Dorian = C major)
  • Phrygian has the same accidentals as the major scale one major third below (E-Phrygian = C major)
  • Lydian has the same accidentals as the major scale one Fourth below (F Lydian = C major)
  • Mixolydian has the same accidentals as the major scale one Fourth above (G Mixolydian = C major)
  • Locrian has the same accidentals as the major scale one small second about it (B-Locrian = C major)

Now you can quickly work out the accidentals of a church scale, provided that you can quickly determine the accidentals of a major scale, e.g .:

  • f-Doric the accidentals of the major scale have a big second below = Eb major (b, es, a flat),
  • a-Phrygian the accidentals of the major scale have a major third below = F major (b),
  • e-Lydian the accidentals of the major scale have a Fourth below, = B major (f sharp, c sharp, g sharp, d sharp, a sharp),
  • d-Mixolydian the accidentals of the major scale have a Fourth above, = G major (f sharp) and
  • c-Locrian the accidentals of the major scale have a small second about it, = D flat major (b, es, as, des, gb).

The Ionic scale and the major scale as well as the Aeolian scale and the (natural) minor scale have the same accidentals.


Gypsy major and minor

In the so-called Gypsy minor scale This reflects an idea of ​​the 19th century which sound material is typical for the music of the Roma. This scale does not appear very often in so-called art music and when it does, it is usually only an 'exotic' color. The Gypsy minor scale is identical to the harmonic minor scale with the exception of one note. Only the fourth tone of this scale has to be raised to the leading tone (fifth). This gives the scale three semitones and two excessive seconds.

If you have to write down this scale, proceed as with the harmonic minor scale and at the end change the fourth tone to a leading tone to the fifth.

For the so-called Gypsy major scale What has been said about the Gypsy minor applies. This scale is symmetrical and consists of using the upper tetrachord of the harmonic minor scale twice. This scale also has three semitones and two excessive seconds.

If you want to write down this scale, it is best to write down a major scale first and then lower the second tone of the scale to a Phrygian leading tone.

The following pitch order can be understood as a mixture of Gypsy minor and Gypsy major:

And George Bizet chose this exotic sequence of notes for the fateful motif of the ›Gypsy‹ Carmen in his opera of the same name (a fifth lower in Zigeuner D / D). Perhaps the only point of the gypsy minor and major scales is to be able to understand the charm of this beautiful melody a little better:

Copyright Info: George Bizet - Carmen. Victoria de los Ángeles, Nicolai Gedda, Ernest Blanc, Janine Micheau, Orchester Radio-Symphonique de Paris, Sir Thomas Beecham, Label: Angel 3613, Germany 1961, Source: Public Domain Music, CCO - Public Domain.


Pentatonic scale

A pentatonic scale (from Greek πεντα- / penta- = ›five-‹) consists of only five tones. Unfortunately, something is still missing here ... :)


The Blue scale can be understood as a derivation from the pentatonic scale.
And unfortunately here too ... :(

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Creation of the article: July 18, 2017
Last change of the post on November 19, 2020