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Scale (music)

In music, a scale is a ordered series of notes, each of which is separated by a musical interval. Each note in a scale is referred to as a scale degree. Though the scales from musical traditions around the world are often quite different, the pitches of the notes in any given scale are usually related by a mathematical rule.

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Scales in Western music Scales in traditional Western music consist of seven notes, made up of a root note and six other scale degrees whose pitches lie between the root and its first octave. Notes in the scale are separated by whole and half step intervals of tones and semitones.

There are a number of different types of scales used commonly in Western music, including:

Scale degrees A scale degree is a numeric position of a note within a scale ordered by increasing pitch. The simplest system is to name each degree after its numerical position in the scale, for example: the first, the fourth. Because intervals are inclusive, a fifth describes a note which is four notes after the tonic.

Major scales have seven notes which are named, in order: tonic, supertonic, mediant, subdominant, dominant, submediant, leading-tone (or leading-note). Also commonly used is the "movable do" solfege naming convention in which each scale degree is given a syllable. In the major scale, the solfege syllables are: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do.

Non-Western scales In traditional Western music, scale degrees are separated by tones or semitones. However, many other musical traditions employ scales that include other intervals. The music of India demonstrates some excellent examples, as some ragas employ scale intervals smaller than a semitone.

Microtonal scales The term microtonal music usually refers to music with roots in traditional Western music that employs non-standard scales or scale intervals. The composer Harry Partch made custom musical instruments to play compositions that employed a 43-note scale system, and the American jazz vibraphonist Emil Richards[?] experimented with such scales in his 'Microtonal Blues Band' in the 1970s.

Jazz and blues Through the introduction of blue notes, jazz and blues employ scale intervals smaller than a semitone.

Chords Scales are closely related to chords, as the notes in a chord are often a subset of a particular scale.



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