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Chromatic scale
Qualities
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.

Notation[edit]

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]

Sources[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.
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7 news items

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 21:01:14 -0700

When the button is in the out position, the “white” notes are played. Push the button in, and the air is redirected and the “black” notes are played. The chromatic harmonica plays all 12 notes of the Western chromatic scale, and it has a “reach” of ...

Longview News-Journal

Longview News-Journal
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 02:00:00 -0700

He had to a play a major scale, a chromatic scale (a scale with 12 notes, each a half step apart), and a technical piece. The audition was a cinch for Kiefer, who's been playing saxophone since sixth grade. He got involved in band after watching a ...
 
Los Angeles Times
Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:17:48 -0700

Branford Marsalis can be a beguiling saxophonist, whether as a jazz player, a pop musician or, increasingly, in the classical repertory. In the latter, he has distinguished himself particularly in French and Russian saxophone concertos, and he has also ...
 
PR Web (press release)
Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:38:59 -0700

The Chromatic Scale is a scale that uses 12 pitches each of which are one semitone above or below one another. Each semitone is the same size, 100 cents, and is equally spaced from one another. The Pentatonic Scale is a musical scale with five notes ...

Telegraph.co.uk

Telegraph.co.uk
Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:20:44 -0700

... only shades of grey. It forces you to home in on little subtleties, of which there are many. I especially enjoyed the three-part counterpoint of Lesson, full of unexpected corners, and Spell, which conjures something interesting out of a plain ...
 
London Review of Books (subscription) (blog)
Mon, 06 Oct 2014 05:59:20 -0700

In a recent interview with Philip Sherburne for Pitchfork, James spoke about his desire to get away from 'equal temperament' (using a chromatic scale that consists of twelve equal semitones): 'I've always liked these weird scales and tunings. I've been ...
 
South China Morning Post (subscription)
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:31:08 -0700

We should never underestimate the intoxication of crowds united for a cause. For many young people, the mass protests of recent days must feel like the intensity of first love. Perhaps that is already the whole purpose of the exercise for many of them ...
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