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Terms Relating To Vocal Music
Tempo (_continued_)
Scales (_continued_)
Terms Relating To Forms And Styles
Symbols Of Music Defined
Musical Instruments
Chords Cadences Etc

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Terms Relating To Forms And Styles (_continued_)
Miscellaneous Terms
Auxiliary Words And Endings
Terminology Reform
Some Principles Of Correct Notation
Abbreviations Signs Etc
Miscellaneous Terms (_continued_)
Terminology Adoptions 1907-1910

Random Music Terms

Rhythm Melody Harmony And Intervals
Tempo (_continued_)
Terminology Adoptions 1907-1910
The History Of Music Notation
Abbreviations Signs Etc
Chords Cadences Etc
Symbols Of Music Defined Part Two
Terms Relating To Forms And Styles (_continued_)

Scales (_continued_)

84. The minor diatonic scale is used in several slightly different
forms, but the characteristic interval between the first and third tones
(which differentiates it from the major scale) remains the same in every
case. This interval between the first and third tones consists of four
half-steps in the major scale and of three half-steps in the minor scale
and this difference in size has given rise to the designation major
for the scale having the larger third, and minor for the scale having
the smaller one.

85. The original (or primitive) form of the minor scale has its tones
arranged as follows.

1 whole 2 half 3 whole 4 half 5 half 6 whole 7 whole 8
step step step step step step step

As its name implies, this is the oldest of the three forms (being
derived from the old Greek Aeolian scale), but because of the absence of
a leading tone it is suitable for the simplest one-part music only,
and is therefore little used at present.

86. The harmonic minor scale is like the primitive form except that it
substitutes a tone one half-step higher for the seventh tone of the
older (i.e., the primitive) form. This change was made because the
development of writing music in several parts (particularly harmonic
part-writing) made necessary a leading tone, i.e., a tone with a
strong tendency to move on up to the key-tone as a closing point. In
order to secure a tone with such a strongly upward tendency the
interval between seven and eight had to be reduced in size to a
half-step. It should be noted that this change in the seventh tone of
the scale caused an interval of a step-and-a-half between the sixth and
seventh tones of the scale.

1 whole 2 half 3 whole 4 whole 5 half 6 step and 7 half 8
step step step step step a half step

87. The melodic minor scale substitutes a tone one half-step higher
than six as well as one a half-step higher than seven, but this change
is made in the ascending scale only, the descending scale being like the
primitive form. The higher sixth (commonly referred to as the raised
sixth) was used to get rid of the unmelodic interval of a
step-and-a-half[15] (augmented second), while the return to the
primitive form in descending is made because the ascending form is too
much like the tonic major scale.

[Footnote 15: The step-and-a-half (augmented second) is unmelodic
because it is the same size as a minor third and the mind finds it
difficult to take in as a second (notes representing it being on
adjacent staff-degrees) an interval of the same size as a third.]

1 whole 2 half 3 whole 4 whole 5 whole 6 whole 7 half 8
step step step step step step step

7 whole 6 half 5 whole 4 whole 3 half 2 whole 1
step step step step step step

This form is used only to a very limited extent, and then principally in
vocal music, the harmonic form being in almost universal use in spite of
the augmented second.

88. The minor scale in its various positions (up to five sharps and five
flats) and in all three forms follows: a composition based on any one of
these forms (or upon a mixture of them, which often occurs) is said to
be in the minor mode. It will be noted that the first four tones are
alike in all three forms; i.e., the lower tetrachord in the minor
scale is invariable no matter, what may happen to the upper tetrachord.
The sign + marks the step-and-a-half.

Note.--The student is advised to recite the harmonic form
of the minor scale as was suggested in the case of the major
scale, noting that the raised seventh does not affect the
key-signature. E.g.,--E--F[sharp]--G--A--B--C--D[sharp]--E;
signature, one sharp, F.

89. A minor scale having the same signature as a major scale is said to
be its relative minor. E.g.,--e is the relative minor of G, c of
E[flat], d of F, etc., the small letter being used to refer to the minor
key or scale, while the capital letter indicates the major key or scale
unless accompanied by the word minor. Relative keys are therefore
defined as those having the same signature. G and e are relative keys,
as are also A and f[sharp], etc.

90. A minor scale beginning with the same tone as a major scale is
referred to as its tonic minor. Thus, e.g., c with three flats in
its signature is the tonic minor of C with all degrees in natural
condition; e with one sharp is the tonic minor of E with four sharps,
etc. Tonic keys are therefore those having the same key-tone.

91. The eight tones of the diatonic scale (both major and minor) are
often referred to by specific names, as follows:

1. Tonic--the tone. (This refers to the fact that the tonic
is the principal tone, or generating tone of the key, i.e.,
it is the tone.)

2. Super-tonic--above the tone.

3. Mediant--midway between tonic and dominant.

4. Sub-dominant--the under dominant. (This name does not
refer to the position of the tone under the dominant but to
the fact that the fifth below the tonic is also a dominant
tone--the under dominant--just as the fifth above is the upper

5. Dominant--the governing tone. (From the Latin word
dominus meaning master.)

6. Super-dominant--above the dominant. Or
Sub-mediant--midway between tonic and sub-dominant.

7. Leading tone--the tone which demands resolution to the
tonic (one-half step above it).

8. Octave--the eighth tone.

92. The syllables commonly applied to the various major and minor scales
in teaching sight-singing are as follows:[16]

[Footnote 16: These syllables are said to have been derived originally
from the initial syllables of the Hymn to Saint John, the music of
which was a typical Gregorian chant. The application of these syllables
to the scale tones will be made clear by reference to this hymn as given
below. It will be observed that this hymn provided syllables only for
the six tones of the hexachord then recognized; when the octave scale
was adopted (early in the sixteenth century) the initial letters of the
last line (s and i) were combined into a syllable for the seventh tone.

[Illustration: Ut que-ant lax-is Re-so-na-re fi-bris Mi-ra
ges-to-rum Fa-mu-li tu-o-rum Sol-ve pol-lu-ti La-bi-i re-a-tum
Sanc-te Jo-han-nes.]]

Major--DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, TI, DO.

Minor[17]--original--LA, TI, DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA.
harmonic--LA, TI, DO, RE, MI, FA, SI, LA.
melodic--LA, TI, DO, RE, MI, FI, SI, LA,

[Footnote 17: A considerable number of teachers (particularly those who
did not learn to sing by syllable in childhood) object to calling the
tonic of the minor scale la, insisting that both major and minor tonic
should be called do. According to this plan the syllables used in
singing the harmonic minor scale would be: DO, RE, ME, FA, SOL, LE, TI,

There is no particular basis for this theory, for although all scales
must of course begin with the key-tone or tonic, this tonic may be
referred to by any syllable which will serve as a basis for an
association process enabling one to feel the force of the tone as a
closing point--a home tone. Thus in the Dorian mode the tonic would be
RE, in the Phrygian, MI, etc.]

It is interesting to study the changes in both spelling and
pronunciation that have occurred (and are still occurring) in
these syllables. The first one (ut) was changed to DO as
early as the sixteenth century because of the difficulty of
producing a good singing tone on ut. For the same reason and
also in order to avoid having two diatonic syllables with the
same initial letter, the tonic-sol-fa system (invented in
England about 1812 and systematized about 1850) changed SI to
TI and this change has been almost universally adopted by
teachers of sight-singing in this country. The more elaborate
tonic-sol-fa spelling of the diatonic syllables (DOH, LAH,
etc.), has not, however, been favorably received in this
country and the tendency seems to be toward still further
simplification rather than toward elaboration. It is probable
that further changes in both spelling and pronunciation will
be made in the near future, one such change that seems
especially desirable being some other syllable than RE for the
second tone of the major scale, so that the present syllable
may be reserved for flat-two, thus providing a uniform
vowel-sound for all intermediate tones of the descending
chromatic scale, as is already the case in the ascending form.

93. The chromatic scale[18] is one which proceeds always by
half-steps. Its intervals are therefore always equal no matter with what
tone it begins. Since, however, we have (from the standpoint of the
piano keyboard) five pairs of tones[19] which are enharmonically the
same, it may readily be seen that the chromatic scale might be notated
in all sorts of fashions, and this is in fact the real status of the
matter, there being no one method uniformly agreed upon by composers.

[Footnote 18: The student should differentiate between the so-called
tonality scales like the major and minor, the tones of which are
actually used as a basis for key-feeling with the familiar experience
of coming home to the tonic after a melodic or harmonic excursion, and
on the other hand the purely artificial and mechanical construction of
the chromatic scale.]

[Footnote 19: Many other enharmonic notations are possible, altho the
five pairs of tones above referred to are the most common. Thus
E[sharp] and F are enharmonically the same, as are also C[flat] and B,
C[sharp] and B[double-sharp], etc.]

Parry (Grove's Dictionary, article chromatic) recommends
writing the scale with such accidentals as can occur in
chromatic chords without changing the key in which the passage
occurs. Thus, taking C as a type, the first accidental will
be D[flat], as the upper note of the minor ninth on the tonic;
the next will be E[flat], the minor third of the key; the next
F[sharp], the major third of the super-tonic--all of which can
occur without causing modulation--and the remaining two will
be A[flat] and B[flat], the minor sixth and seventh of the
key. According to this plan the chromatic scale beginning
with C would be spelled--C, D[flat], D, E[flat], E, F,
F[sharp], G, A[flat], A, B[flat], B, C--the form being the
same both ascending and descending. This is of course written
exclusively from a harmonic standpoint and the advantage of
such a form is its definiteness.

94. For sight-singing purposes the chromatic scale[20] is usually
written by representing the intermediate tones in ascending by sharps,
(in some cases naturals and double-sharps), and the intermediate tones
in descending by flats (sometimes naturals and double-flats). The
chromatic scale in nine different positions, written from this
standpoint, follows, and the syllables most commonly applied in
sight-singing have also been added. In the first two scales the student
of harmony is asked to note that because of the very common practice of
modulating to the dominant and sub-dominant keys, the intermediate tones
[sharp]4 and [flat]7 are quite universally used in both ascending and
descending melody passages. In other words the scales that follow would
more nearly represent actual usage if in each case [sharp]4 (FI) were
substituted for [flat]5 (SE) in the descending scale; and if [flat]7
(TE) were substituted for [sharp]6 (LI) in the ascending form.

[Footnote 20: The word chromatic means literally colored and was
first applied to the intermediate tones because by using them the singer
could get smoother and more diversely-shaded progressions, i.e., could
get more color than by using only the diatonic tones. Composers were
not long discovering the peculiar value of these additional tones and
soon found that these same tones were exceedingly valuable also in
modulating, hence the two uses of intermediate tones at the present
time--first, to embellish a melody; second, to modulate to another key.]

Note.--In writing chromatic scales from this sight-singing
standpoint the student is urged to adopt a three-step process;
first, writing the major diatonic scale both ascending and
descending; second, marking the half-steps; third, inserting
accidental notes calling for the intermediate tones. In the
above chromatic scales these intermediate tones have been
represented by black note-heads so as to differentiate them
from the notes representing diatonic scale tones.

95. The whole-step scale (the third type mentioned in Sec. 79) is, as
its name implies, a scale in which the intervals between the tones
consist in every instance of whole-steps. This reduces the number of
tones in the scale to seven. Beginning with C the scale reads: C, D, E,
F[sharp] or G[flat], A[flat], B[flat], C. This scale has been used
somewhat extensively by the ultramodern French school of composition
represented by Debussy, Ravel, and others, but is not making any
progress toward universal adoption. The remarks of a recent English
writer[21] on this subject may be interesting to the student who is
puzzled by the apparent present-day tendencies of French music. He says:

The student of some interesting modern developments will also
speedily discover that the adoption of the so-called
whole-tone scale as a basis of music is, except upon a keyed
instrument tuned to the compromise of equal temperament,
unnatural and impossible. No player upon a stringed instrument
can play the scale of whole-tones and arrive at an octave
which is in tune with the starting note, unless he
deliberately changes one of the notes on the road and alters
it while playing it. The obvious result of the application of
the whole-tone scale to an orchestra or a string quartet would
be to force them to adopt the equal temperament of the
pianoforte, and play every interval except the octave out of
tune. When this modification had taken hold all music in the
pure scale would be distorted and destroyed, unless string
players were to face the practically impossible drudgery of
studying both the equal temperament and the pure scale from
the start, and were able to tackle either form at a moment's
notice. A thorough knowledge of the natural genesis of the
scale of western nations will be the best antidote to fads
founded upon ignorance of it. It is a curious commentary upon
this question that Wagner, in the opening of the third act of
Tristan (bars 6 to 10), experimented with the whole-tone
scale and drew his pen through it, as was to be expected from
a composer whose every work proves the writer to have had the
pure scale inbred in him.

[Footnote 21: Stanford--Musical Composition (1911) p. 17.]

There may be some difference of opinion among acousticians as to whether
Mr. Stanford is correct in his scientific assumptions regarding the
difference between tempered and pure scales,[22] but even so, there
is a far more potent reason why the whole-step scale will probably never
become popular as the major and minor scales now are, viz., the fact
that it offers no possibility of inculcating tonality feeling, which
has always been the basis of even the simplest primitive music. Tonality
scales give rise to a feeling of alternate periods of contraction and
relaxation--an active tone (or chord) followed by a passive one, but no
such effect is possible in the whole-step scale, and it seems suitable
therefore only for that class of music whose outlines are purposely
intended to be vague and indefinite--the impressionistic style of music

[Footnote 22: Recent tests in Germany seem to prove conclusively that
the tempered scale is the scale ordinarily employed by both vocalists
and players on stringed instruments, and that the ideal of and agitation
for a pure (i.e., untempered) scale in vocal and in string music
is somewhat of a myth.]

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