Talk:Pentatonic scale

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Request for audio examples[edit]

Please, can we have some examples? Like ones we can hear. Or is Wikipedia a text-only medium?

I have tried to add some MIDI examples. BTW, i have midified the gamelan scale although it is irreducible to chromatic scale ;) Raoul NK (talk) 18:29, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Hear it, please?[edit]

Right, all this wordy stuff is meaningless unless we can hear it. Can we have examples we can hear, please? If Wikipedia has visual media (see it) why can't it have audio media (hear it)? This applies to pretty well any music-related article. (Grendlegrutch (talk) 19:09, 10 August 2010 (UTC))


Jazz[edit]

moved much of the jazz-specific discussion to jazz; as someone familiar with non-Western music, the assignment of minor pentatonic scale to the jazz idiom--{A, C, D, E, G}--rather than to that of the tuning of the koto--{A, B, C, E, F} belongs in idiom-specific pages rather than on the main page. I kept the introduction of the major pentatonic scale here, since in Western European classical music, the major pentatonic scale is commonly referred to as simply the "pentatonic scale." -jp2

this paragraph, under major pentatonic scale[edit]

Another construction, derived from Western European classical music, begins with a major scale and omits the fourth and the seventh scale degrees: a C major scale is {C, D, E, F, G, A, B}. By omitting the F and B, the remaining notes are G flat, A flat, B flat, D flat, and E flat, the notes in the G flat major pentatonic scale. These notes are also the black keys on the piano keyboard. This scale is used for many popular pentatonic songs such as "Amazing Grace", "Auld Lang Syne", and "My Girl".

I don't understand something here. Perhaps I just don't get it, in which case, never mind. But... if you omit the 4th and 7th of the C major (F and B, respectively), wouldn't you be left with (C, D, E, G, A) instead of (G flat, A flat, B flat, D flat, and E flat)? It seems that the demonstration switches from C major to G flat major halfway through.--Lf1033 20:03, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

It's a simple matter to fix the problem you're complaining about (which is not the only problem with this passage): just say, "By omitting the F and B, the remaining notes are transpositionally equivalent to G flat, A flat, B flat, D flat, and E flat, the black keys on the piano keyboard". Oh, I'll do it for you. TheScotch 11:04, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

pentatonic modes[edit]

Re: "They [anhemitonic pentatonic modes] can also be named by their corresponding diatonic cousins: Ionian pentatonic, Mixolydian pentatonic, Dorian pentatonic, Aeolian pentatonic and Phrygian pentatonic."

Pentatonic Scales for the Jazz-Rock Keyboardist by Jeff Burns, published in 1997 by Hal Leonard of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, uses these terms to refer to the various hemitonic pentatonic subsets of the diatonic scale. It calls, for example, C, E, F, G, B, C the Ionian pentatonic and F, A, B, C, E, F the Lydian pentatonic. The idea is that these are derived as analogues of the anhemitonic pentatonic scale within the diatonic scale--which is itself an extension of the acoustically derived anhemitonic pentatonic scale (in other words, it is also a set of Pythagorean fifths). TheScotch 12:54, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Unless someone can give me the source of the application of the Greek place names to different dispositions of the anhemitonic pentatonic scale, I will delete this part of the article. Should I (at another point) refer to the application of the Greek place names to different hemitonic pentatonic scales? TheScotch 07:21, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

No one gave me the source of the application of the Greek place names to different dispositions of the anhemitonic pentatonic scale, so I deleted this part of the article. TheScotch 07:46, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

jazz[edit]

I feel that jp2's earlier exile of minor pentatonic to jazz was completely sensible, but only under the assumption that this scale is unique to jazz. Since (as it turns out), the scale is common to both jazz and Appalachian folk song, I think it ought to be discussed on the pentatonic page after all.

My source for the existence of minor Appalachian pentatonic songs is Cecil J. Sharp, Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Oxford University Press, 1932.

I left jazz completely alone, so there's now a bit of redundancy here, which I consider to be beneficial.

Perhaps a koto expert could add a bit on the pentatonic scale for this instrument, thus helping to distinguish the different types of minor?

--Opus33 23:56, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Tuning[edit]

From the page: "Deriving the pitches from the major scale leads to a just scale of either {1/1, 9/8, 5/4, 3/2, 5/3} (a 5-limit pentatonic) or {1/1, 9/8, 21/16, 3/2, 7/4} with blue notes of the flatted fourth and flatted seventh."

A flatted fourth is a major third, isn't it? If so, is this meant to be a minor scale with a flatted fourth, or is it a flatted fifth? -- Jim Regan 00:28, 7 May 2004 (UTC)

See: blue note. Hyacinth 02:07, 7 May 2004 (UTC)

OK, so it's a flatted fourth in the context of a minor pentatonic then. -- Jim Regan 19:44, 8 May 2004 (UTC)

Um...I don't see that the blue note article mentions a flatted fourth, and if it did it would be a very eccentric blue note article indeed. Blues notes are flatted sevenths, flatted thirds, and flatted fifths. It's not altogether out of the question that someday someone might invent a new one, but so far those three are the only ones with significant cultural currency....I see that since Jim's last remark someone has corrected "flatted fourth", changing it to "flatted fifth", but unfortunately the corresponding frequency proportion has not been changed: A frequency proportion of 21:16 above the note C is thirty cents flatter than a tempered F: it is, in fact, a flatted fourth. This isn't the only problem with the section in question, however. More anon. TheScotch 06:12, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Re: "Deriving the pitches in a pentatonic scale from stacked fifths leads to a Pythagorean scale of {1/1, 9/8, 81/64, 3/2, 27/16}. Deriving the pitches from the major scale leads to a just scale of either {1/1, 9/8, 5/4, 3/2, 5/3} (a 5-limit pentatonic) or {1/1, 9/8, 21/16, 3/2, 7/4} with blue notes of the flatted fifth and flatted seventh.":

First: A Pythagorean diatonic scale is (a tuning of) a major scale. In fact, it’s the only major scale tuning advocated consistently by music theorists for two thousand years, in very round numbers, from 500 B.C. until 1500 A.D., when it began to be supplanted by the just scale.

Second: The term “5-limit’’ is a microtonal-fringe neologism. We can properly speak of just intervals, which diverge from Pythagorean intervals by a syntonic comma, approximately 21.5 cents, or a diatonic just scale, which is derived by stacking 4:5:6 major triads thus: F A C, C E G, G B D, and that’s it.

Re: "The blues scale can be tuned {1/1, 7/6, 4/3, 7/5, 3/2, 7/4}.":

Blues notes are alternate inflections, which means they do not generally correspond to specific frequency proportions, but are subject to all sorts of expressive “deviations”. There is some justification for the “7/4” flatted seventh because trumpet players tend to play this blues note with the seventh harmonic, but as a whole this tuning is merely theoretical speculation.

I recommend that the Tuning section of this article be deleted altogether. TheScotch 06:59, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

I changed my mind and merely reworded the passage, throwing out references to the blues scale, which are irrelevant anyway because this is an article about the pentatonic scale.

I've left for now the last bit (in slightly altered form): "The pentatonic scale used by the Gogo people of Tanzania is said to be tuned thus: 1:9/8:5/4:3/2:7/4. This anhemitonic scale can be thought of as a section of the harmonic series, from the 5th or 6th overtone up to the 10th, transposed to other octaves."

There are problems still, however. For one thing, a remark like this badly needs a citation considering the enormous temptation for ethnomusicologists, especially amateur ethnomusicologists, to impose aesthetically pleasing but unjustifiable tunings onto ethnic musical practices. The slendro anhemitonic scales of Java and Bali are said to approach (very roughly) an equally-tempered five note scale, but, in fact, their tunings vary dramatically from gamelan to gamelan. Another problem with the putative Gogo scale is that it fits uncomfortably with the other tunings mentioned in this section: It gives us the scale {C,D,E,G,Bb}, which is anhemitonic in the sense that it has no semitones, in other words in the etymological sense of anhemitonic, but it is not anhemitonic in the more pertinent sense that the term, regardless of its etymology, means a scale transpositionally equivalent to {C,D,E,G,A}. TheScotch 12:11, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

According to Grove Music Online, which I've just checked, Gogo vocal practice (and it's vocal practice, not instrumental practice) does not make use of what we are accustomed to think of as scales at all; it does not compress its pitches into the span of a single octave and then "[transpose them] to other octaves". Expert Gogo musicians actually sing the fourth through ninth (and occasionally tenth) harmonics above a fundamental. We get C,E,G,Bb,C,D but never C,D,E,G,Bb. This necessarily makes the frequency proportions accurately 4:5:6:7:8:9 (obviating the tendency toward "imposition" I mentioned earlier), but leaving the passage as it now stands very dubious. TheScotch 13:00, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

I think I've fixed this now without losing any substantive actual information (aside from the blues scale tunings). TheScotch 06:56, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Blues scale[edit]

One sentence and six notes hardly does justice to the blues scale, a major building block of American folk, rock, country, jazz, blues, not to mention George Gershwin and Harold Arlen. Ortolan88 17:49, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Write more! Hyacinth 19:15, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Agreed, it's quite easy to miss too. I'm going to take it out and stubify it. Rico 16:42, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
...or not. I thought we'd have had <music> tags implemented by now. Can't access Lilypond from here. Rico 16:57, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

Isn't the blues scale six different notes in an octave? as in a minor pentatonic scale with one extra note, the blues note. 66.41.59.162 01:43, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Says who? —Keenan Pepper 04:56, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, at the moment, the article itself says the blues scale is the pentatonic minor scale with an additional note, the blue note. That would be six. Then, the example eliminates the fifth altogether, replacing it with the "augmented fourth". (I've always thought it was universally called a flat fifth, but whatever.) In any case, the fifth is used in all the blues that I've heard. I think the example needs to be corrected. I don't know where people are getting the graphics of the staves, though. --Trweiss 15:42, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

[I've moved my comments to the lower section]Bedesboy 12:37, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Pelog[edit]

Samuel, please explain regarding pelog in this article. As is it is misleading. Hyacinth 04:42, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Hyacinth, I've put a short explanation in the Pelog page. I don't think it is needed here because this is just a link to that page. To be brief, Pelog (and also Slendro for that matter) can be thought of as a subset of a larger 7 tone scale. This varies a bit between Java and Bali. It is like how the black note pentatonic scale can be thought of as a subset of the 7 tone scale of F#, Gb, C# or Db. In a good deal of Indonesian music Pelog only uses 5 tones and is indeed Pentatonic.
Up until recently, Balinese Gamelan Gong Kebyar only used 5 tone pelog instruments, Only the Suling (flutes) and Rebab (string instrument) could play more tones, but until recently, this was only as ornamentation. Recently, they have started to make 7 tone instruments called "Semeran Dana", but this is the exception, not the norm.
In Java, the Pelog instruments have more than 5 tones, but often the music will only use 5 tones. I don't know all that much about Javanese musical theory, but I believe there are 3 modes that are normally used, that come out of that 7 tone scale.
So I believe it is correct to call Pelog a pentatonic scale.
--Samuel Wantman 07:04, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Someone has recently replaced this:

"The pentatonic scales used in Indonesian gamelan music are called slendro and pelog."

...with this:

"The slendro scale used in Javanese gamelan music is pentatonic, with roughly equally spaced intervals. Another scale, pelog, has seven tones, but is generally played using one of several pentatonic subsets, which are roughly analogous to different keys or modes."

Pelog is not so much a heptatonic (seven-note) scale as a scale system out of which hemitonic pentatonic scales are formed, and there do indeed exist gamelan instruments in Bali (which preserved intact until fairly recently older Javanese culture--as Java itself did not after the Muslims entered) with only five tones per octave and pelog tunings, one of the most popular of which is called selisir.

Also: The degree to which slendro is "equally spaced" has been greatly exaggerated. As I've pointed out before, tunings vary from gamelan to gamelan, but most slendro tunings are much closer to the conventional anhemitonic pentatonic scale than to an equally tempered scale. TheScotch 07:41, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

You can find the passage in question under the rubric "Further pentatonic musical traditions". TheScotch 07:48, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Blues again[edit]

afaik, in a the bluesscale is minor scale _plus_ an _additional_ b5. (I just changed that) Maybe someone can update the gfx, or tell me I'm wrong. Tobias (from german wiki)

p.s. so... that would also mean, blues scale isn't a pentatonic, right?

"Blues scale" is a poorly defined concept: see [1]. There are blue notes, a well-defined concept (though varying in historical usage). But whether the "blues scale" is a modificiation of the minor scale, or of the major scale (with a flatted third degree)—and how many notes it has—varies from teacher to teacher. —Wahoofive (talk) 17:32, 10 August 2005 (UTC)
I think common usage falls on Tobias's side, but common sense is with Wahoofive. There's no single scale that defines or sums up "blues" as a genre, a tradition or even a technique, but if you pick up a scale book, chances are it will list a thing called "the blues scale" that looks exactly as Tobias describes. Anyway IMHO it has no place in an article on pentatonic scales what with its being, as has already been pointed out, hexatonic. Ornette 16:03, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

I'd say the discussion of the blues scale here is pretty unsatisfactory as it stands and could do with a lot more explantion. I'd contend that as blues scale isn't simply a type of pentatonic. I guess one of the problems is that different musicians think of the scale in different ways and there's no formally "correct" definition. For example, I think the pentatonic-type blues scale discussed in this article reflects the POV of a guitarist, as it's the sort of scale you get from playing a "blues box" on a fretboard. I'm a pianist, and for me the blues scale consists of ten notes: (I'll put this in C rather than messing about with numerals): C D Eb E F Gb G A Bb C. I'm sure a ton of people would disagree with my interpretation, though, and Wikipedia needs to reflect the diversity of opinion. What do you reckon about creating a separate article to cover the topic? Unless anyone objects, I'll make a start....Bedesboy 12:36, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I think it would be best if the blues scale section here were simply deleted altogether. (It seems to me likely that the b3 and b7 blues notes resulted from the superimposition of a minor pentatonic scale onto a major diatonic scale, which is to say that the blues scale has something to do with the pentatonic scale, but if such a connection is discussed it would be better discussed in a separate article.) TheScotch 07:12, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

It's gone. TheScotch 12:17, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Clarification needed?[edit]

Is it only me or is the following sentence incoherent (aside from being ungrammatical)?

  • Only certain divisions of the octave, 12 and 20 included, allow uniqueness, coherence, and transpositional simplicity, and that only the diatonic and pentatonic subsets of the 12 tone chromatic set follow these constraints (Balzano, 1980, 1982).

I'd just cut it, but it sounds like it's trying to say something interesting. Can someone clarify? Ornette 15:59, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

What is incoherent or hard to understand about it? What's wrong with the grammar? Why would you remove it? Hyacinth 21:18, 5 June 2006 (UTC)


It sounds a lot like rambling to me.... It isn't at all clear, and I get completely lost in reading it, the 4th or 5th time, and still can't make sense. Does it mean that you divide an octave by 12 and 20(how do you do that?) to achieve... (well... whatever it is it's trying to say) -It is Completely confusing, and unclear -if you understand it, well you are probably the person who wrote it -or a music professor. User:Guest 17:44, 31 July 2006

What's wrong with the grammar? The that is syntactically nonsensical. Either the that needs to go or else something like "Balzano says that" needs to be added to the beginning of the sentence--which brings us to the next obvious problem: As far as I can tell the article never explains who Balzano is or what he published in 1980 and in 1982. Balzano is apparently redefining terms such as simplicity and coherence to give them precise mathematical meaning, and I suspect you'd have actually to read his papers or books to discover what that meaning is--whether or not you happen to be "a music professor". TheScotch 13:08, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

The passage currently reads "Only certain divisions of the octave, 12 and 20 included, allow uniqueness, coherence, and transpositional simplicity, and only the diatonic and pentatonic subsets of the 12 tone chromatic set follow these constraints (Balzano, 1980, 1982). The major and minor pentatonic scales possess Myhill's property." The deletion of the that is a decided improvement, but I still find nothing in the article to explain who "Balzano" is or what he published in 1980 or in 1982. Unless we get some clarification soon the entire passage is going. Consider yourself warned. TheScotch 07:34, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Gone. TheScotch 12:17, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Orff?[edit]

Which version of the pentatonic scale did Orff recommend for kids to improvise on... so it always sounds good.?

minor mistake[edit]

I removed the following:

     Another common minor pentatonic is constructed from the scale tones I, II, iii, V, VI.

From the minor pentatonic section because this is the major pentatonic.

Also I changed the scale tones 1,2,3,5,6 listed in the major pentatonic to the more conventional roman numerals I, II, iii, V, VI. Should scale tones be written in capital or lower case? They are pretty inconsistant in this article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 61.68.142.241 (talkcontribs) .

No, I think the original author meant the lowercase Roman numerals to mean minor intervals above the tonic, which is a little non-standard because Roman numerals usually refer to chords, but it's definitely not just "inconsistant" [sic]. —Keenan Pepper 04:17, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

inconsistency[edit]

Why is the octave, which has seven notes before it repeats the first called the octave but the pentatonic scale which has five notes before it repeats called the pentatonic scale?

Should this apparent inconsistency be mentioned in the article?

It could be, but I think that would absorb more light than it would shed--or something. Our names for intervals are derived from the diatonic scale, and they're pretty firmly embedded. If we could change them easily then probably we would have changed them long ago, considering that an obvious arithmetical error is involved. The distance between the first and third notes of a diatonic scale should logically be two, not three, yet we call this interval a "third". Atonal theory bypasses these ordinal expressions altogether, logically numbering the equally tempered scale from zero to twelve and deriving chromatic intervals by simple subtraction. TheScotch 13:03, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

I think you answered your own question. The octave is an interval, not a scale. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never heard of a major/minor/etc scale being referred to as an "Octave Scale", perhaps for the exact reason you mentioned.
Regarding intervals, they're called "thirds" NOT because of the distance between them, but because of their position relative to the first note of the scale. In C Major, the note E is not a "third" above(or "tenth" or "seventh" etc.) because there are three notes in between, (or two, or even one depending on how you're looking at it) but because it is the third note of the scale. C is, obviously, a part of the scale, thus it is "one", "unison", "first", or whatever you like to call it. The note "D" is the second note of the scale, thus it is the interval of a "second" (or "ninth" etc.). The rest follows from that --Crabbyass 16:28, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Furthermore, the octatonic scale does have eight distinct notes before it repeats. —Wahoofive (talk) 03:43, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Re: "The octave is an interval, not a scale."

Yes, and its name derives from the seven-note diatonic scale. It would be perfectly consistent to call the same acoustical relation in respect to the proto-diatonic anhemitonic pentatonic scale a sixth. I don't think that would be a good idea, however, for two reasons: 1) It would be needlessly confusing, and 2) it would be perpetuating the illogic of our diatonic interval names.

Re: "Regarding intervals, they're called 'thirds' NOT because of the distance between them, but because of their position relative to the first note of the scale. In C Major, the note E is not a 'third'" above(or 'tenth' or seventh' etc.) because there are three notes in between, (or two, or even one depending on how you're looking at it) but because it is the third note of the scale."

Unfortunately, that is not what the term interval means. Interval means distance, and the ancients who invented these interval names failed to recognize zero as a number. (Notice that your system wouldn't work for measuring the interval D-E, for example, unless you switched suddenly to a D scale. That would be revising history--considering that these ancients I mentioned didn't transpose--, as well as extremely limiting and contrary to how we practically make use of interval theory.)

Re: "Furthermore, the octatonic scale does have eight distinct notes before it repeats."

Well, I think that's pretty much why we call it the octatonic scale--some of us; I prefer to use jazz nomenclature here and call it the diminished scale, considering that there is at least one other eight-note scale just as interesting. Anyway, if we were to name intervals in terms of an eight-note diminished scale rather than in terms of a seven-note diatonic scale and in a analogous fashion, we would necessarily have to call the 2:1 frequency relation a ninth. I advise against doing that--at least in wikipedia--for the same reason I advise against making an analogous pentatonic interval-naming system. TheScotch 18:48, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Re: "I think you answered your own question." It occurs to me now that there may be some understanding here. My contribution to this section (under the heading "inconsistency") begins with "it could be". The two questions above my "it could be" were written by someone else, someone who neglected to sign his contribution. TheScotch 09:29, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

spelling the blues scale[edit]

Does it make any difference if we call the note a "sharp four" or a "flat five"? I was taught a "sharp four" - but when I teach my own students - I prefer to use the term "flat five" since it is consistent with "flat three" and "flat seven" William'sboy 17:43, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Spelling and "calling" are different things. A chromatic pitch will generally be spelled with a sharp if its resolution ascends and spelled with a flat if its resolution descends. We can have F, F#, G, ascending, for example, and G, Gb, F, descending. Contrary to arbitrary jazz pedagogy, there is in fact no such entity as a "blues scale" because blues notes are alternate inflections, but if we put that circumstance aside for the moment and consider C Eb F F# G Bb C a C blues scale, then it should be clear that its second and sixth pitches are spelled with flats because they don't resolve. In real music these pitches are just as likely to resolve as not and we might have something like C D# E F G. "Calling", you should never use the term sharp at all (in respect to scale degrees, that is), but rather raised. Despite the variable spelling, blues notes are generally considered to be lowered inflections, not raised inflections. So call them "lowered" and spell them according to how they resolve in the particular passage in question. TheScotch 09:22, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

(late in the game, but...) "There is no such entity as a 'blues scale' "? I suppose if you want to impose a highly abstracted and restrictive theoretical definition of what a "scale" is, you may be right. But that is to ignore both the lingua franca and the musical practice of millions of actual working musicians, and really to disserve the encyclopedia, however much you may look down on "arbitrary jazz pedagogy." Definitions may occasionally vary, but that's a different matter.
As far as spelling goes, harmonic (or melodic) function should dictate notation -- ie the blues scale should have "#4" going up and "b5" coming down, but in practice even classical composers are often inconsistent with that, especially when double-flats or double-sharps are called for (much to my personal frustration when trying to solfege a score). As for never using "sharp" to mean raised or "flat" to mean lowered wrt scale degrees, I admire your aspirations for precise language, but that's a mighty big tide you're swimming against.
I guess this is the place to ask...after all the above discussion on the blues scale(s), all mention of it seems to have been wiped off the page...I thought perhaps it had been forked and I should add a quick "see also" link, but "blues scale" currently redirects to hexatonic scale, a term jazz and pop musicians never use, but classical theorists do--for the whole tone scale (wrong, whoops). I don't have time right now do dig stuff out of the history, but I would have thought a new article (even a stub) w/ the material from here, and a link interpolated into the jazz discussion here, would be the sensible way to go...—Turangalila talk 05:20, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

1. "Actual working musicians" actually working with blues material actually use blues notes in various ways, as I've pointed out above.

2. Note my repeated use of the term generally to qualify my remarks about spelling.

3. I also assumed that someone had made a "blues scale" page and have just a few minutes ago discovered to my surprise the redirection to "hexatonic scale". I'm editing this page now. The whole-tone scale does have six pitches per octave, but I've never heard anyone, classical theorist or other, refer to it as the hexatonic scale (in the way that classical theorists tend to refer to what jazz musicians call the diminished scale as the octatonic scale). Before I chanced upon it, the hexatonic scale page here mentioned three hexatonic scales: the whole scale, the augmented scale, and the blues scale. This seems to me reasonable, considering that these are arguably the three most famous specimens. I'll try to make some decisions (or maybe just remarks) about linking after I've edited the hexatonic scale page a bit more. TheScotch 07:15, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

For now, I've simply added a blues scale link to the See also section of this page (the pentatonic scale page, that is). TheScotch 08:09, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
I think we're using the word scale a bit differently. You're thinking of it as a basis for actual creative music-making, whereas for me scale immediately conjurs up the practice room, and there the blues scale is all too real. Of course most bluesers & jazzers will use blue notes in different ways, just as most non-jazz composers will mix modes freely; but the "morning routine" of a good (or at least diligent) jazz player often runs through scales (& arpeggios) in all keys, in a sequence like: major-minor-dominant-pentatonic-diminished-blues (& perhaps whole-tone & augmented &c &c...). Pedagogically a common exercise is to have students improvise blues choruses specifically restricting themselves to the blues scale. I think Jamey Aebersold has a whole book on it... Actually even in "real" improvising, when a soloist gets too far afield melodically during a more traditional blues number, somebody'll yell "Play the blues, man," meaning stick (close) to the blues scale — this has happened to me personally :-) .
Anyhoo, I'm sure you're right that "hexatonic" is a genus not a species... not sure what I was thinking there. On spelling, what I was trying to say in my own garbled way was that your guidance is right, but unfortunately general practice often ignores it. Thanks for the updates... I may dig out the history here & fork a blues-scale article at some point, but I've way overcommitted myself WP-wise at the moment... —Turangalila talk 18:26, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
It is perhaps worth pointing out that hexatonic has been in the article for a long time as a generic classification (see the box that has been incorporated at the end: Scales in Equally tempered music). Myself, I think that box is not well thought out at all (especially for its inclusion of diatonic as a well-defined category, for its spurious implicit claim to completeness, etc.). It could be turned into something valuable, but it needs "workshopping", and as it stands articles are diminished by incorporating it.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:25, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

I’m not happy about the box either. For one thing, it’s titled “Scales in Equally tempered music”, and the “Tuning section” section here never once mentions equal-temperament. Yes, I admit I’ve edited this section myself, but it never once mentioned equal-temperament before I got hold of it either, and back then it was significantly more arithmetically specific (and arithmetically suspect, I contend), more arithmetically specifically oblivious to equal-temperament. For another thing, not only is the box incomplete, as you point out, it’s also likely to remain incomplete. I doubt anyone is ever going to write an article about "tritonic" or "ditonic" (dyatonic?) scales. Why do we stop with octatonic? I’m guessing it’s just because that’s where the box maker’s Greek ran out. He couldn’t conjure up nonatonic, decatonic, or hendacatonic. TheScotch 09:00, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Diatonic and chromatic[edit]

The article uses the term "diatonic" in more than one sense, but without adequate explanation. This term, along with chromatic, is the cause of serious uncertainties at several Wikipedia articles, and in the broader literature. Some of us thought that both terms needed special coverage, so we started up a new article: Diatonic and chromatic. Why not have a look, and join the discussion? Be ready to have comfortable assumptions challenged! – Noetica♬♩Talk 05:59, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

If you can tell us specifically where and how this article uses the term diatonic equivocally, we can probably fix it. Otherwise we're left only to guess. TheScotch 11:49, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

TheScotch, I suggested that you look at Diatonic and chromatic, and the talk page for that article. If you do that you will see more detail about the problem I mention here. But let's look at the six uses this article makes of the term:
  1. It omits two pitches from a diatonic scale.
  2. the Pythagorean diatonic and chromatic scales...
  3. If we consider the anhemitonic scale a subset of a just diatonic scale...
  4. over several chords diatonic to the same key
  5. at the teacher's discretion until the complete diatonic scale is being used.
  6. By interval : diatonic | chromatic | whole tone
So the term is first used in "diatonic scale", implicitly assuming that term in a certain restricted sense: roughly, the scale equivalent to the modern major scale, or to some "range" of that scale, or some scale using the same mix of tones and semitones (Use 1). But the reader is given no direct guidance about which of several available senses of diatonic scale is intended. In Use 2 diatonic scale is cryptically qualified as "Pythagorean", but there no explanation or link to help the reader, here. In Use 3 there is mention of a "just diatonic scale", with no link or explanation. In Use 4, the term is used in the phrase "diatonic to a key". But in this derivative use of diatonic it is not clear which chords are in fact "diatonic to key". In the context, in this article, only a major key is spoken of. But this usage is generally unruly. (Is the chord G-B♮-D "diatonic to" C minor? Is the chord E♭-G-B♮? Different sources give different answers.) And it is not likely to be understood by the reader who is a novice in music theory. In Use 5 we return to the uses implicit in Uses 1, 2, and 3. But in Use 6, in the table at the end of the article, the term diatonic appears in a supposed three-way division of the kinds of scales used in Western music, which therefore implicitly assigns the harmonic and melodic minors as "diatonic". This is incompatible with Uses 1, 2, and 3, but compatible with usage explicit or implicit in some other Wikipedia articles, and in several respected published sources.
Now, we know what's going on! I, for example, understand this article with no difficulty. But articles need to to be written for non-specialist readers. This one isn't: and one reason is its careless use of a term which is far more problematic than most "experts" appreciate.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:42, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm still going to have to hunt these passages down. Your first three instances require only that one knows the meaning of the term diatonic, and presumably that can be found by clicking on the term. Diatonic to in your #4 should perhaps be replaced with "belonging to", but, then again, belonging to might not be precisely what's meant. You haven't quoted enough of #5 to give me the an idea what its about. I'll take a look at #6.

When you say, "Be ready to have comfortable assumptions challenged!" I fear you're proffering "original research". Should we, in any case, really be using an article's discussion page to advertise another article? TheScotch 07:16, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I've looked over these instances now. I don't find anything objectionable about any of them. The sixth is simply a link to another article. I haven't read that other article, but if it's faulty, its faults should be addressed on its own discussion page. TheScotch 07:32, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Scotch, you should look at the article Diatonic and chromatic, because I fear you've missed Noetica's point -- the term "diatonic" is ambiguous, and the ambiguity is extensively documented on that page. Noetica's concern is that the word is used here in at least some cases as if its meaning were clear, when it's not. The recommendation of authors on that page is that article avoid the term when possible, replacing it with something more specific. —Wahoofive (talk) 16:07, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

1) The term diatonic is a very basic musical term. Every musician at every level needs to know it, and I can't imagine what anyone would be doing here who is not in some sense a musician--but if someone happens to be ignorant of the term, for whatever reason, he can look it up.

2) Advocating that the term diatonic be done away with is "original research", and if any wikipedia article does it, it needs to reverted immediately.

3) I'm not going to allow myself to bullied into reading anyone's "original research". Criticisms of this article need either to be stated clearly here or else kept to oneself. TheScotch 05:26, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Scotch, here are three responses to your three points:
1) Yes, diatonic is a fundamental term. It is also used in a number of different senses, as is amply shown at Diatonic and chromatic. Budding musicians will consult these articles in Wikipedia, in order to come to an understanding of such terms. Many experienced musicians will also come here, to check their usage of terms or to find material relevant to their teaching, etc. Yes, they can "look it up", but where? At Wikipedia, I hope! As things stand in the literature, if they go elsewhere they will often get incomplete or misleading definitions for diatonic and chromatic.
2) No one is suggesting that the term be done away with: just that it be used uniformly or at least understandably, and that if this is impossible then other terms might be more apt. For example, say that the most usual pentatonic scale (the major pentatonic scale) can be derived by omitting two notes from the major scale, not from the diatonic scale. Why use a contested and unclear term, when such an easy and accurate alternative is available?
3) Who's bullying anyone? [Note: I corrected the this from whose, later, prompted by Scotch. See below.– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)] Who imposes markers on articles (to which they have not contributed) suggesting that they are "original research", as at Diatonic and chromatic? I have made criticisms of this article, and I have done so only here. That's why we have talk pages.
Let's all work together on these things, OK?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:15, 9 April 2007 (UTC)


Re: "No one is suggesting that the term be done away with:

These are precisely Wahoofive's words: "The recommendation of authors on that page is that article avoid the term when possible." Obviously, this is suggesting the term be done away with, at least as far as this article goes.

(I interpolate my comments in italics, signing each one.)
No, Scotch. By your own citing of these, there is a difference. "Avoid the term where possible" does not express the same intent as "that the term be done away with".– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Re: "At Wikipedia, I hope! As things stand in the literature, if they go elsewhere they will often get incomplete or misleading definitions for diatonic and chromatic.":

Clearly, you are saying that your definition of these terms is significantly different from the standard definitions, and just as clearly you are therefore--if you are right that they're significantly different, that is--undertaking "original research" here and advancing your own agenda.

No, I have no "agenda": unless that be to take note of various definitions given in standard sources, including Wikipedia. No, there is nothing that I identify as "my" definition, of any of the terms in question. No, none of this is "original research". And we strive to cite all our sources, at Diatonic and chromatic. Have a look. But note: not one of those sources does a better job of clarifying the ways these terms are used than our article does. If you disagree, show me one. – Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Re: "Why use a contested and unclear term, when such an easy and accurate alternative is available?":

You and your cohorts are the only ones contesting it and the only ones who find it unclear. The major scale is different from the diatonic scale in that it unmistakably implies a particular tonal center, and tonal centers are entirely irrelevant to the process of deriving a pentatonic subset from the diatonic scale (which is, of course, an historically backward procedure--I didn't put this bit in the article). TheScotch 20:30, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

No. Look at discussions on the web (I could point you to them, if you like). They illustrate the deep confusion that people are in about these terms. I appreciate your point about the differences between major and diatonic; but the pentatonic scale is not historically "derived" from either, is it? We can show its structure, though, by appeal to the major scale, as effectively and more clearly than by appeal to some diatonic scale – a term which is given several meanings in the literature. – Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
[Note added later:] To be fair, the article does derive the (major) pentatonic from the major scale. But it does so with mention of the "diatonic scale" in the previous sentence. We might wonder why that mention is desirable; and if it is desirable, why is it not equally desirable in the section that follows, on the minor pentatonic scale? Incidentally (and perhaps of some importance), that section starts this way: "There are two different pentatonic scales in common usage that are referred to as minor." Well, only one is named and dealt with. I presume that the other would be of this structure: C-D-E♭-G-A♭[-C]. Is that right? Whatever the other form is, let it be added. Confusing and incomplete, otherwise. It is possible that the two forms intended are the one shown starting on C, and the one shown starting on A. But this would be odd indeed. These two have the same internal structure exactly. Finally, as things stand there may be inconsistency in the use of the term minor as applied to pentatonic scale between this section and the later section called Further pentatonic musical traditions. Perhaps that needs attention also.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:23, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Re: "Whose [sic] bullying anyone?":

Ouch! Quite right, of course. As one who edits at Apostrophe, and as the one who added to that article the list of possessive forms that do not use the apostrophe, I am in pain when I see my slip here. My excuse is that I had not slept all night. I was editing (not in Wikipedia). – Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Very clearly, you are using this discussion page to advertise and promote work you have done elsewhere, and you and your cohorts have repeatedly urged me, specifically, to go there. This doesn't seem to me at all proper behavior, and I think I am entirely justified in considering it an intrusion.

No. How can it be an intrusion? I have not touched this article (though I might, yet). I only draw attention to issues arising from it, on the talk page. That's why we have talk pages! People can go to Talk:Diatonic and chromatic if they like. Much will be explained there (better than cluttering this page, yes?). No one's compelling anyone, or bullying anyone. My "cohorts"? A bit pejorative, don't you think? A number of concerned editors who have identified an issue, and who have been working hard for clarity, and to serve users of Wikipedia. – Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Re: "Who imposes markers on articles (to which they have not contributed) suggesting that they are "original research", as at Diatonic and chromatic?"

Whether I have contributed to it are not is entirely irrelevant--and in any case you can hardly expect me to be enthusiastic about the prospect of being immediately mobbed. I make my case in the discussion page of that article, and you need to confine your contesting of my editing of that article to the discussion page there. TheScotch 20:30, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps it is irrelevant. I don't really care. The fact is that you chose not to contribute, but to slap a marker on the article that it doesn't deserve. If you have reservations about particular statements of the article, discuss them at its talk page. You did that once, and the matter was addressed swiftly. That's pretty good, isn't it? I thanked you for contributing to the talk page. It is interesting that you do not thank me for contributing at this talk page. As it stands, this article still has problems with terms that need to be addressed. You would do well to attend to fix those, rather than raising objections to public commentary of a sort that Wikipedia allows for and encourages. – Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Merge from Mongolian scale[edit]

Support. The Mongolian_Scale is essentially the same scale with a different name. --Stephen Burnett 22:50, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Examples[edit]

"Please, can we have some examples? Like ones we can hear. Or is Wikipedia a text-only medium?"

Well ... I uploaded two example MIDI files: File:PentMajor.mid and File:PentMinor.mid . The problem is, it doesn't look nice when you put it into the page. I guess this is because they are not really image files. I have no idea if that's the way you're supposed to do it, or if you're even supposed to at all. Any advice, anyone? --Stephen Burnett 02:50, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Problem now fixed. --Stephen Burnett 18:53, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

2nd minor pentatonic?[edit]

Currently, under "Minor pentatonic scale", the article says: There are two different pentatonic scales in common usage that are referred to as minor...but then goes on to discuss only the "relative" (black-key) minor pentatonic. Did a sentence or paragraph get lost? Either way this doesn't relate well to the "Further pentatonic musical traditions" section, which contains several allusions to "the minor pentatonic scale", and one to "a minor pentatonic scale" for the shakahuchi. This could all be resolved by just cutting that first sentence, but that probably wouldn't be right...—Turangalila talk 05:33, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree, Turangalila. See what I wrote above, on 11 April 2007:

Incidentally (and perhaps of some importance), that section starts this way: "There are two different pentatonic scales in common usage that are referred to as minor." Well, only one is named and dealt with. I presume that the other would be of this structure: C-D-E♭-G-A♭[-C]. Is that right? Whatever the other form is, let it be added. Confusing and incomplete, otherwise. It is possible that the two forms intended are the one shown starting on C, and the one shown starting on A. But this would be odd indeed. These two have the same internal structure exactly. Finally, as things stand there may be inconsistency in the use of the term minor as applied to pentatonic scale between this section and the later section called Further pentatonic musical traditions. Perhaps that needs attention also.

This was ignored. (I know the scale I mention exists!) I think there is a great deal to be fixed in this article, but as things stand I am not in a position (for reasons of time and "politics") to attend to this myself. I wish those who do look after this page would respond to such comments as yours and mine.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:47, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

If you wanted, you could call various hemitonic pentatonic scales minor, not just C-D-Eb-G-Ab, but also C-Db-Eb-G-Ab, C-D-Eb-G-A, C-Eb-F-G-B, and so on. (All of these scale forms are used in Java and Bali, and at least three of them are used in Japanese traditional music.) The only pentatonic scale commonly called minor, however, is the minor mode of the anhemitonic pentatonic scale, and I think the article should stick to this one. (I'm sorry I didn't see the comment of yours to which you refer. Maybe you wedged into one of your diatonic and chromatic harangues--I stopped reading these because I wearied of having perpetually to repeat myself. In general, though, I don't think you should you should feel neglected just because no one's yet responded to a comment of yours. Wikipedia is a big place, and most contributors have lives.) TheScotch 20:26, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

The section we're discussing here also includes this assertion: "This minor pentatonic contains all three tones of the root note's minor triad." I suspect whoever wrote it is confusing root with tonic, but I can't tell for sure. If I can get around to it, I'll tinker with this section on Thursday. TheScotch 20:34, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Scotch, I note your attempt at trenchant invective with detached amusement. I can only speculate about the insecurity that leads to you such an effort. Meanwhile, how about fixing this article's manifest inadequacies, which have been pointed out by several observers independently? I would do it myself if I had the time: but I somehow feel you wouldn't like it if I did.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Leaving editor relationship issues aside, I've boldly gone ahead and changed that first sentence for now, basically paraphrasing The Scotch's first comment here. I'm still curious what other mode it was referring to... Anyway, double-check me, but I think that at least leaves the article unambiguous wrt self-reference, which will have to do for now. —Turangalila talk 02:10, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I weakened the first assertion just slightly, changing can to might, and I removed equivocal references in this section to chord members. TheScotch 06:44, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
'looks OK. —Turangalila talk 13:50, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Explanation of a passage[edit]

Could someone please explain me this passage? Or say it in other words. I don't understand what does "they work well over several chords diatonic to the same key"? "Diatonic to the same key"? What are we trying to do if we substitute something with a note from the pentatonic scale?

  • "Pentatonic scales are useful for improvisors in modern jazz, pop, and rock contexts because they work well over several chords diatonic to the same key, often better than the parent scale. For instance, over a C major triad (C, E, G) in the key of C major, the note F can be perceived as dissonant as it is a half step above the major third (E) of the chord. It is for this reason commonly avoided. Using the major pentatonic scale is an easy way out of this problem. The scale tones 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 (from the major pentatonic) are either major triad tones (1, 3, 5) or common consonant extensions (2, 6) of major triads. For the corresponding relative minor pentatonic, scale tones 1, ♭3, 4, 5, ♭7 work the same way, either as minor triad tones (1, ♭3, 5) or as common extensions (4, ♭7), as they all avoid being a half step from a chord tone."
Please sign your posts on talk pages per Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages. Thanks! Hyacinth (talk) 03:23, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Yo scale[edit]

It seems to me that the picture of the Yo scale should have the starting note repeated at the end, since the other pentatonic pictures show the starting note at the end. I would do this if I knew how, but I don't Wikidsoup [talk] 19:14, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

There should be some sort of standard or guideline for images of musical scales. See: Wikipedia:WikiProject Music. Hyacinth (talk) 03:39, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Removed sentence because of logic error[edit]

If they could be and were put into a single octave, however, they would make a pentatonic scale with these frequency proportions: 1:9/8:5/4:3/2:7/4.

Falsehood implies anything and everything. Please rethink what you're trying to convey and then formulate that in such a way that it makes sense. Shinobu (talk) 10:34, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

As does misunderstanding, or perhaps it implies everything and nothing only to some. What don't you understand about it? Hyacinth (talk) 19:21, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Dorian Pentatonic[edit]

Is there a reason why there's no mention of the dorian pentatonic - I, II, ♭III, V, VI, ( I )  ? ~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by Possecomitatus (talkcontribs) 15:17, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

including, but not limited to[edit]

"Including, but not limited to" is lawyer-speak and is unnecessary since "including" implies additional items already. --Unimath (talk) 12:32, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Language[edit]

This article reads like it was written by scientists. Can someone please decipher this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.247.24.23 (talk) 15:10, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

What, specifically, is hard to understand? Hyacinth (talk) 19:18, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Additional citations[edit]

I removed the "refimprove" template from May 2008 calling for additional citations for verification since there is no explanation on this talk page. Hyacinth (talk) 19:17, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Dryness[edit]

This article is about as exciting as a dead gibbon. While the technical, academic definition is fine, surely there could be some room for something more human? When I think pentatonic scale, I think of how amazing it is that pretty much anything played in the pentatonic scale sounds good. That's a major part of what I'd talk about if I were to explain it to someone else. What's the point of music if not to evoke feelings in people? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nevster (talkcontribs) 04:52, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Black keys[edit]

Other popular children's songs are almost pentatonic. For example, the almost-pentatonic nature of the Gershwin lullaby "Summertime", is evident when it is played in the key of E-flat minor. In that key, the melody can be played almost entirely on the black keys of a piano, except just once per verse, where a white key is needed.

This passage sounds awkward. Why is the pentatonic nature evident when played in the key of E-flat minor? The song won't sound any less pentatonic in any other key. . This seems a convoluted way of saying that "in E-flat minor, the song can be played using almost only black keys". It has already been said that the black keys of the piano form a pentatonic scale, but it seems weird to make this fact a criteria for deciding whether a song's scale is pentatonic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rcaetano (talkcontribs) 10:46, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

Removed sentence on the great highland bagpipe[edit]

"The pentatonic scale is also used on the Great Highland Bagpipe." The mentioning of Great highland bagpipe on its own here is misleading and can lead to wrong conclusions - the great highland bagpipe has a MIXOLYDIAN scale, written most often to A but actually audibly closer to Bb mixolydian. To say that it "uses pentatonic" scale could be said of the piano as well - you can play a pentatonic scale on the piano - piano nevertheless has quite a bit more than just that. For reasons of avoiding confusion of the scale of the Highland Bagpipe I thus removed the sentence. 91.152.177.51 (talk) 00:15, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Table Alignment[edit]

I do not know how to align the pythagorean table. 75.152.126.183 (talk) 22:03, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Okay, I figured out most of it. It still does not look like other table of the sort with staggered step ratios. 75.152.126.183 (talk) 22:53, 7 February 2013 (UTC)