Digital Sound & Music: Concepts, Applications, & Science, Chapter 3, last updated 6/25/2013
8
beginning on D3 is depicted in Figure 3.8. Those who grow up in the tradition of Western music
become accustomed to the sequence of sounds in a diatonic scale as the familiar “do re mi fa so
la ti do.” A diatonic scale can start on any note, but all diatonic scales have the same pattern of
sound in them; one scale is just higher or lower than another. Diatonic scales sound the same
because the differences in the frequencies between consecutive notes on the scale follow the
same pattern, regardless of the note you start on.
Figure 3.8 The key of D
A minor diatonic scale is played in the pattern [2 1 2 2 1 2 2]. This pattern is also
referred to as the natural minor. There are variations of minor scales as well. The harmonic
minor scale follows the pattern [2 1 2 2 1 3 1], where 3 indicates a step and a half. The melodic
minor follows the pattern [2 1 2 2 2 2 1] in the ascending scale, and [2 2 1 2 2 1 2] in the
descending scale (played from highest to lowest note). The pattern of whole and half steps for
major and minor scales are given in Table 3.1.
type of scale pattern of whole steps (2) and half steps (1)
chromatic 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
major diatonic 2 2 1 2 2 2 1
natural minor diatonic 2 1 2 2 1 2 2
harmonic minor diatonic 2 1 2 2 1 3 1
melodic minor diatonic 2 1 2 2 2 2 1 ascending
2 2 1 2 2 1 2 descending
pentatonic major 2 3 2 2 3 or
2 2 3 2 3
pentatonic minor 3 2 3 2 2 or
3 2 2 3 2
Table 3.1 Pattern of whole and half steps for various scales
Two final scale types ought to be mentioned because of their prevalence in music of
many different cultures. These are the pentatonic scales, created from just five notes. An
example of a pentatonic major scale results from playing only black notes beginning with F#.
This is the interval pattern 2 2 3 2 3, which yields the scale F#, G#, A#, C#, D#, F#. If you play
these notes, you might recognize them as the opening strain from “My Girl” by the Temptations,
a pop song from the 1960s. Another variant of the pentatonic scale has the interval pattern 2 3 2
2 3, as in the notes C D F G A C. These notes are the ones used in the song “Ol’ Man River”
from the musical Showboat (Figure 3.9).
Previous Page Next Page