Talk:Diatonic scale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Music theory (Rated C-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Music theory, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of music theory, theory terminology, music theorists, and musical analysis on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

Archiving, and Diatonic and chromatic now established[edit]

I have now added a lot of older, and also more recent material, to an archive (see above). A new article has been set up, partly to deal with issues of terminology that have arisen here . Discussion about application of the terms diatonic and chromatic, as applied to intervals or to anything else, is best conducted in the context of that article. I suggest that we now discontinue any such general debate here (and at Talk:Interval (music), Talk:Diminished seventh, etc.), and confine it to Talk:Diatonic and chromatic. – Noetica♬ Talk 02:30, 29 March 2007 (UTC)


It's Ti, wtf? Ti, a drink with jam and bread. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:45, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

In the North American English I learned at my mother's knee, and other joints, the solfege of a Major scale is "Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do." I assume "Si" is used in other idioms. I believe the 5th scale degree is "Sol" everywhere, not "So" ... attention needed here from someone who actually knows. __Just plain Bill 17:41, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

It's Sol. The names were created by Guido D'Arezzo when he wrote his gamut based on a hymn to St. John. Si was changed to Ti to avoid confusion with Sol. Check Wikipedia article Solfège. Here's the hymn: Ut queant laxis resonare fibris, Mira gestorum famuli tuorum, Solve polluti labi reatum, Sancte Iohannes. Ut was also changed to Do. The word "solfa" designates the set of syllables (do, re, mi, etc.) that are sung to the respectives tones of the scale. Solfaing is singing the sol–fa syllables as a tune. See Do-Re-Mi.[User:Lestrade|Lestrade]] (talk) 19:23, 15 August 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Steps and half-steps[edit]

Could someone please add a simple explanation to the article of what steps and half-steps are? Apparently I'm missing something because I never knew stairs had anything to do with music! :) DBlomgren 02:38, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

That's like asking a physicist for a simple explanation of gravity. Okay, it makes things fall down. A half step is the interval between two adjacent keys on the piano; a whole step is two half steps. In neither case (gravity or half steps) would we put it in the article because it's not technically accurate, but if it helps, here you go. —Wahoofive (talk) 03:58, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
Could be the old "nations separated by a common tongue" thing. I believe the Queen's English uses "whole tone" and "semitone" where we say whole steps and half steps. __Just plain Bill (talk) 20:36, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't think so; we say semitone in the US, too. This 1897 book Music discusses the terms on p.401 (It's a Chicago magazine, complaining about a Pennsylvania teacher using "tone" instead of "step", evidence of preferences for each in the US at the time). Dicklyon (talk) 04:02, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
The United States has not adopted an official language. Perhaps Just plain Bill was referring to the overall trend and not saying that no one in the US had never said the word "semitone". Hyacinth (talk) 07:20, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Merriam-Webster lists "semitone" [1] as dating from the 15th century and unhelpfully defines it as, "half step," while pointing to, "also: half step", but, surely incorrectly, dates "half step" [2] only to 1904 while more helpfully defining it as, "1/12 of an octave". Hyacinth (talk) 07:51, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Lastly, the book you link to discusses preferred rather than actual usage. Hyacinth (talk) 23:45, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Dicklyon, for the interesting and persuasive link. It appears to be an American reviewing a book by a British author (Orlando A. Mansfield) but criticizing the American author (Prof. Hugh A. Clarke, Univ. of Penn.) of the introduction "for an inexcusable carelessness of terminology." BTW, Google books gives the text version of the preceding phrase in the same sentence as "… f urination in a small space …". --Jtir (talk) 20:42, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Here is a fun one. Seems to be one American berating another, in 1853, because he "calls a tone a step, and a semitone a half step ; now, who ever heard of a step in music, or in sound?" Dicklyon (talk) 03:40, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

If you know what a whole tone and a semitone are pretending confusion at half step and whole step is most likely unnecessary, as something about the names seems to indicate their relative meaning... Hyacinth (talk) 07:15, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Both terminologies are widely understood. Perhaps on first occurrence, the other could be given in parentheses. Simple. Tony (talk) 07:39, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

The violin teacher I live with says "half step" and "whole step" in the English she learned in 1950's Dorchester, Mass. I've never heard her say "semitone." Not saying no US speaker ever does, but the my inner linguistic anthropologist (il mio antropologo linguistico interno) notices a preponderance of "steps" in US vernacular. My inner linguistic missionary is also alive and well, but has little to say on this subject. "Both teminologies widely understood" pretty well sums it up. __Just plain Bill (talk) 15:23, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Hyacinth, for the links to Here is another: half tone (1621) -> "half step". (also)
So the phrase "half-tone step" that had been in the article is redundant.
And, Bill, both Idiot's and Dummies prefer "half step" and "whole step". Whole tone doesn't appear to be used by anyone except WP as a separate entry in common dictionaries, although does give a def from The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition (edited by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.), and Idiot's says tone is another word for whole step. --Jtir (talk) 20:07, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
M-W reveals itself to be an unreliable source on this topic. Concluding that "whole tone" isn't used anywhere but Wikipedia seem hasty given your sample of three dictionaries. Hyacinth (talk) 23:37, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
One may presume Benward & Saker (2003), for example, don't use "whole tone", but for their use of "whole-tone scale". Hyacinth (talk) 22:12, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

OK, tone and semitone, whole step and half step. Do I notice an absence of UK speakers contributing to this tempestuous discussion? I'd go see about getting a cite for it in the major second article, but haven't the energy just now. __Just plain Bill (talk) 04:03, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Done. Complaints, comments, corrections at Talk:Major second. --Jtir (talk) 20:01, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Please elaborate on the key question of why Ionian and Aeolian (C & A scales) were selected[edit]

Four others (ie all but Locrian) also have either major or minor opening triads. The circle of fifths arguments needs explicating; there's something extremely interesting and necessary about tonality that can't be dismissed with cultural relativity and needs illuminating technically as far as pos...

Sean McHugh 02 (talk) 11:38, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Maximally separated half steps[edit]

It is important to make clear, in the introduction, the concept of "maximally separated" half steps, so that no layman could think (not even for a moment) that this means "separated by 5 whole steps".

This is what I tried to do in my last edit. Notice that the definition given in the first sentence of the previous version of the intro was strongly misleading. The concept was better (but not clearly enough, IMO) explained only in the next sentences.

I am not saying that my edit is perfect, but at least now everyone should be able to understand, and the first sentence is a perfect definition with no ambiguity. The concept of "maximum separation" of the half steps is tricky. Either we explain it clearly, or we just avoid it altogether. If you wish to further simplify the intro, you can safely delete the sentence referring to it, because in my edit this concept is not anymore presented as the definition of the diatonic scale, but as a consequence of it, in a separate sentence. Paolo.dL (talk) 20:41, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

Additional citations[edit]

Why, what, where, and how does this article need additional citations for verification? Hyacinth (talk) 13:48, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 08:54, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
Why? Because Wikipedia articles need all assertions to be verifiable. The article currently has only two verifiable references and one incomplete one.
What? It needs full inline citations from published works on the subject (i.e. reputable sources).
Where? At the end of most of the sentences.
How? In the form of footnotes. See the WP:MOS for guidance and a selection of other articles for examples. Without additional citations the article will not be considered for a quality rating higher than C class.
Tag reinstated. (talk) 02:16, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Actually, you're right Hyacinth. Refimprove was the wrong tag. I've replaced it with More footnotes. (talk) 02:28, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Three? major scales and three? minor scales?[edit]

The article mentions "the three major scales (Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolydian)" and "the three minor scales (Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian)" and Locrian scales. I don't see in the article or another article any explanation of this classification of the diatonic scales. I don't see that 'major' and 'minor' are applied to Lydian, Mixolydian, Dorian, or Phrygian elsewhere. If there is such a classification and it is mentioned here, it needs to be explained. Thank you.CountMacula (talk) 11:25, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

Score notation[edit]

Here is the scale on this page using the score tag. Perhaps more accessible than midi/png files.

\relative c' { c d e f g a b c\fermata }

ColinKinloch (talk) 14:30, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

hi oppp — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2002:182D:195D:1234:DC2F:8DF9:7E36:923F (talk) 02:13, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

Modes Table[edit]

Why the last column heading reads "Example"? In the context of this article, for each Mode, there is only one possibility of pitch class "sequencing".--Connection (talk) 20:08, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

These modes could be created on other notes by the use of accidentals. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:30, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Most appreciated. What I want to clarify is that using accidentals will be a different "Tonic relative to major scale"? Considering first row, Major scale on C is unique, on D is unique, and so forth... Eventually on C# is also unique. Thank you in advance.--Connection (talk) 21:22, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Revisions of the article[edit]

I summarize here my revisions of today and my justifications. I am perfectly aware that my changes require references. I am not very good at doing this, because I don't usually read elementary textbooks on music theory, and I hope that others will add references – I am quite sure that they can be found. In addition, my revisions remain open to improvements.

  • Added (whole tone) and (semitone) after whole step and half step.
  • Removed the mention of the Pythagorean tuning in the lede: (a) Pythagorean tuning is a property neither of the diatonic scale, nor of the cycle of fifths (which could also be formed of tempered fifths); (b) until recently, musical instruments always were tuned by ear, in any tuning or temperament; (c) the diffusion of the diatonic scale certainly is not a consequence of its being in Pythagorean tuning.
  • Changed "piano keyboard" in "musical keyboard" and "white keys" in "lower (white) keys": they are not always white.
  • "Western music" instead of "Western harmony"; from the "Middle Ages" instead of "Renaissance".
  • Removed "diatonic functionality": this kind of functionality is not a property of the diatonic scale, but rather of tonality. See also Talk:Diatonic_function.
  • Moved the second paragraph of the section "History" to a subsection "Middle Ages".
  • Provided an explanation of the relation between the four medieval modes and the seven scales.
  • Added a subsection "Renaissance", with details of the reform by Glarean. I am aware that Glarean's twelve scales can be explained otherwise, but the explanation given here certainly is one of the correct explanations. I have no other reference than Glarean's treatise itself, but I understand that WP does not like first-hand sources.
  • Added a subsection "Modern" (which might not be the best term – it'll have to do for now). Details on the origin of common practice tonality really don't belong here: I kept this subsection minimal.
  • Simplified the "Theory" section on two essential points:
– Connecting the description of transpositions to Glarean's theory.
– Removing the somewhat puzzling idea that the keyboard arrangement could simplify the system of key signatures, and the even more puzzling statement that it "allows the adjacent positioning of most of the diatonic whole-steps" (?).
  • Suppressed the "Analysis" section and moved its (modified) content to "Theory": this had nothing to do with analysis.
  • I changed the "mode" subsection in accordance with my conviction that it is improper to call "mode" what is merely a scale.
  • What is described as "properties" of diatonic scales often derive from the fact that our theory is conceived for them; I tried to show that without changing too much...
  • I drastically reduced the mentions of theories by David Rothenberg, Balzano and Erv Wilson, and Diatonic set theory, which do not really concern diatonic scales properly speaking. Links to the specific articles are all that is needed. For the same reason I removed the infobox in the lede, which concerned properties that do not belong to diatonic scales properly speaking.

In addition to the above,

  • The mention of "syntonic commas" in the caption of the second figure (and the corresponding "+" in the notation) remains unclear. The syntonic commas describe the difference between Pythagoran tuning and just intonation, but the caption does not suggest this comparison. Both examples could be moved to the section on tuning – where I added a comment on the notes differing by a syntonic comma.
  • I am not sure that the denominations of the degrees in the major scale (tonic, supertonic, mediant, etc.) belongs here: it does not describe properties of the diatonic scales, but of tonality itself.
  • The reference to "tetrachords" should be emended. The notion, in Diatonic_and_chromatic#Diatonic_scales, that medieval theorists described diatonic scales in terms of Greek tetrachords is merely wrong. Correcting that will have to remain for later.

Hucbald.SaintAmand (talk) 11:13, 18 February 2017 (UTC)