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Encyclopedia > Chromatic scale

The chromatic scale is a scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone or half step apart. Pitch is the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound. ... A semitone (also known in the USA as a half step) is a musical interval. ... A half step is either: the interval of a minor second in music, or the half step (dance move) in dance. ...

Download high resolution version (945x95, 4 KB)Chromatic scale full octave ascending and descending on C Created by Hyacinth using Sibelius and paint. ...

The most common conception of the chromatic scale before equal temperament was the Pythagorean chromatic scale, which is essentially a series of eleven 3:2 perfect fifths. The twelve-tone equally tempered scale tempers, or modifies, the Pythagorean chromatic scale by lowering each fifth slightly less than two cents, thus eliminating the Pythagorean comma of approximately 23.5 cents. Various other temperaments have also been proposed and implemented.

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.

Listen to the chromatic scale, starting on B, a half step lower than the chromatic scale on C.



Ascending chromatic notes are generally spelled with sharps, and descending chromatic notes are generally spelled with flats (or, in reference to diatonic sharped notes, with natural signs):

Ascending chromatic scale with reference to the C major scale: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C.

Descending chromatic scale with reference to the C major scale: C B Bb A Ab G Gb F E Eb D Db C.

Ascending chromatic scale with reference to the A major scale: A A# B B# C# D D# E E# F# G G# A.

Descending chromatic scale with reference to the Eb major scale: Eb D Db C Cb Bb Bbb Ab G Gb F Fb Eb.

Keyboard fingering

Here is the standard keyboard fingering for a chromatic scale; where 1 means the thumb; 2 the index finger; 3 the middle finger

Download high resolution version (898x189, 9 KB)Chromatic scale with keyboard fingering This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...

Historical usage

The ancient Greeks wrote of three genera of tetrachords: the diatonic, the chromatic, and the enharmonic. Some theorists, such as Ptolomy, assigned specific frequency proportions to these genera and others, such as Aristoxenus, did not. The tetrachords proceeded in descending order, the diatonic genus filling a perfect fourth with two whole tones and a semitone, the chromatic genus filling a perfect fourth with a minor third and two semitones, and the enharmonic genus filling a perfect fourth with a major third and two quarter tones. In ancient Greek music there were three genera (singular: genus) for classifying musical scales: diatonic chromatic enharmonic, diatonic being the simplest and enharmonic the most complex. ... In Music theory, the diatonic major scale (also known as the Guido scale), from the Greek diatonikos or to stretch out, is a fundamental building block of the European-influenced musical tradition. ... In music, chromatic indicates the inclusion of notes not in the prevailing scale and is also used for those notes themselves (Shir-Cliff et al 1965, p. ... In music, an enharmonic is a note which is the equivalent of some other note, but spelled differently. ...

Audio examples

  • Bassoon chromatic scale ( file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • A bassoon playing a chromatic scale from B-flat1 to B-flat4, ascending then descending.
    • Problems listening to the file? See media help.

Image File history File links Bassoon-technical-chromatic. ... Software development stages In computer programming, development stage terminology expresses how the development of a piece of software has progressed and how much further development it may require. ... The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that plays in the tenor range and below. ...

See also

In music, chromatic indicates the inclusion of notes not in the prevailing scale and is also used for those notes themselves (Shir-Cliff et al 1965, p. ... In music theory, a diatonic scale (from the Greek diatonikos, to stretch out; also known as the heptatonia prima; set form 7-35) is a seven-note musical scale comprising five whole-tone and two half-tone steps, in which the half tones are maximally separated. ... Diatonic and chromatic are important terms in Western music theory. ... Atonality describes music not conforming to the system of tonal hierarchies, which characterizes the sound of classical European music between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Chromatic scale
Scales in music by number of pitches : edit
pentatonic | hexatonic | heptatonic | octatonic | chromatic

  Results from FactBites:
Scale (music) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1329 words)
Scales are typically ordered in pitch, with their ordering providing a measure of musical distance.
Scales are often abstracted from performance or composition, though they are often used precompositionally to guide or limit a composition.
Microtonal scales are also used in traditional Indian Raga music, which has a variety of modes which are used not only as modes or scales but also as defining elements of the song, or raga.
  More results at FactBites »



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