Yo scale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The yo scale, which does not contain minor notes, according to a traditional theory is a pentatonic scale used in much Japanese music including[1] gagaku and shomyo. The yo scale is used specifically in folk songs and early popular songs and is contrasted with the in scale which does contain minor notes.[2] The in scale is described as 'dark' while the yo scale is described as 'bright' sounding.[3]

It is defined by ascending intervals[clarification needed] of two, three, two, two, and three semitones. An example yo scale, expressed in western pitch names, is: D - E - G - A - B. This is illustrated below.

The Ryūkyū scale appears to be derived from the yo scale with pitches raised.[4]

Yo scale on D with auxiliary notes (F) & (C) About this soundPlay .
Yo scale on D, ascending and descending.[3]

More recent theory[5] emphasizes that it is more useful in interpreting Japanese melody to view scales on the basis of "nuclear tones" located a fourth apart and containing notes between them, as in the min'yō scale used in folk music, and whose pitches are equivalent to the second mode of the yo scale:[6]

Min'yō scale on D,[7] equivalent to yo scale on C,[4] with brackets on fourths About this soundPlay .


  1. ^ Japanese Music, Cross-Cultural Communication: World Music, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.
  2. ^ Titon, Jeff Todd (1996). Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples, p.372. ISBN 0-02-872612-X.
  3. ^ a b Chris Hiscock, Marian Metcalfe (1999). New Music Matters 11-14, p.49. ISBN 978-0-435-81091-7.
  4. ^ a b Minoru Miki, Marty Regan, Philip Flavin (2008). Composing for Japanese instruments, p.2. ISBN 978-1-58046-273-0.
  5. ^ Koizumi, Fumio (小泉文夫, Koizumi Fumio) (1974). Nihon no Ongaku: Rekishi to Riron (日本の音楽:歴史と理論) (Japanese Music: History and Theory), 76. Tokyo: National Theater of Japan.
  6. ^ Titon (1996), 373.
  7. ^ Susan Miyo Asai (1999). Nōmai Dance Drama, p.126. ISBN 978-0-313-30698-3.

Further reading[edit]