digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















short song that uses the chromatic scale in the beginning as well as in the distorted part at 0:35
Chromatic scale
Number of pitch classes 12
Chromatic scale drawn as a circle: each note is equidistant from its neighbors, separated by a semitone of the same size.

The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone above or below another. On a modern piano or other equal-tempered instrument, all the semitones are the same size (100 cents). In other words, the notes of an equal-tempered chromatic scale are equally spaced. An equal-tempered chromatic scale is a nondiatonic scale having no tonic because of the symmetry of its equally spaced notes.[1]

Chromatic scale on C: full octave ascending and descending About this sound Play in equal temperament  or About this sound Play in Pythagorean tuning .

The most common conception of the chromatic scale before the 13th century was the Pythagorean chromatic scale. 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. Equally spaced pitches are provided only by equal temperament tuning systems, which are widely used in contemporary music.

The term chromatic derives from the Greek word chroma, meaning color. Chromatic notes are traditionally understood as harmonically inessential embellishments, shadings, or inflections of diatonic notes.


The chromatic scale may be notated in a variety of ways.

Ascending and descending:[1]

Chromatic scale ascending, notated only with sharps.
Chromatic scale descending, notated only with flats.
The harmonic chromatic scale starting on C.
The melodic chromatic scale starting on C.

The chromatic scale has no set spelling agreed upon by all. Its spelling is, however, often dependent upon major or minor key signatures and whether the scale is ascending or descending. The images above, therefore, are only examples of chromatic scale notations. As an abstract theoretical entity (that is, outside a particular musical context), the chromatic scale is usually notated such that no scale degree is used more than twice in succession (for instance G flat - G natural - G sharp).

Non-Western cultures[edit]

  • 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.

Total chromatic[edit]

The total chromatic (or aggregate[3]) is the set of all twelve pitch classes. An array is a succession of aggregates.[3] See also: Tone row.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ a b Whittall, Arnold. 2008. The Cambridge Introduction to Serialism, p.271. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-68200-8 (pbk).

External links[edit]

Recommended Reading[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_scale — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

347 news items

The New York Review of Books (blog)

The New York Review of Books (blog)
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:02:28 -0700

The tempo ratio in the twelve-voice Study #37 is 150:160 5⁄7:168 3⁄4:180:187 1⁄2:200:210:225:240:250:262 1⁄2:281 1⁄4, which is derived from the frequencies of notes in a chromatic scale. While the geometric precision of Nancarrow's works inspires awe ...

The Guardian (blog)

The Guardian (blog)
Thu, 11 Jun 2015 10:10:31 -0700

By mastering the useful trick of playing the entire chromatic scale at any given moment, he has absolved himself from the charge of continuously wrong notes. Like a stopped clock, Coleman is right at least twice day. To me the most remarkable thing of ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Tue, 16 Jun 2015 07:42:47 -0700

In recent years, traditional schools and their students have become more awash in symbols and less immersed in real life. Children are decoding symbols on a page or a device, sounding out each letter as Dick and Jane go for a walk or Jack and Jill go ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 12 Jun 2015 06:26:42 -0700

The tour included mixed receptions for a stint at Ronnie Scott's, with the British writer and Coleman-sceptic Benny Green penning his famous lines: “By mastering the useful trick of playing the entire chromatic scale at any given moment, he had ...

Daily News & Analysis

Daily News & Analysis
Sat, 13 Jun 2015 07:29:10 -0700

The caliber of a musician is judged by what notes he chooses to play. All the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale are at his disposal, but what he chooses, how he plays it, how he links them and at what intervals is what proves his caliber. To someone ...

Blouinartinfo UK

Blouinartinfo UK
Mon, 22 Jun 2015 06:18:45 -0700

The classical composer Hale Smith once spoke to me of Coleman's “quarter-tone pitch,” by which he meant that Coleman plays between the semitones of an ordinary chromatic scale. The core of Coleman's genius, Smith felt, is that, however sharp or flat he ...
Times Colonist
Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:11:15 -0700

Ideally, 25 vessels will be involved at each location, providing a full chromatic scale around middle C. Using wireless technology developed by Victoria's Limbic Media, Donison will be able to “play” the horns using a keyboard. In its final iteration ...

The Arts Desk

The Arts Desk
Mon, 22 Jun 2015 02:14:36 -0700

From the start – a lone clarinet pulsing perhaps the arrhythmia of Britten's own heart condition, Aschenbach's mind beating on emptiness to a miraculous tissue touching on all 12 tones of the chromatic scale – you're drawn into a strange inner world ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight