The Chromatic Scale
Airfare Daily Deals eCigarettes Eyeglasses Hotels Jewelry Online Backup Online Dating Online Printing Online Tickets Skin Care Textbook Rentals Vitamins Web Hosting Weddings
Find thousands of shopping-related forums
SEARCH

The Chromatic Scale

The scales of all major and minor keys are diatonic scales. . A chromatic scale is a scale made up entirely of semitones; one which includes all the notes (black and white) on the keyboard. There are two ways of writing the chromatic scale: the harmonic and melodic. The harmonic chromatic scale is the same whether it is ascending or descending, or it occurs in a major or in a minor key. The melodic chromatic scale meanwhile differs in the ascending and their descending versions.

The scales of all major and minor keys are diatonic scales. (In a minor key, both the harmonic and melodic forms of the scale are diatonic). A chromatic scale is a scale made up entirely of semitones; one which includes all the notes (black and white) on the keyboard.

For about three centuries after 1600 music was generally based on the major and minor scales and not on the chromatic scale. Individual chromatic notes were used, but often merely as special effects (the word "chromatic" means 'coloured') which had no influence upon the key. Sometimes, it is true, their use could bring about a change of key, in which case the key signature might be changed. During the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, the use of chromatic notes developed to such an extend that any feeling of tonality (being in a key) was often weakened. In the hands of some composers, it was finally destroyed altogether (in music described as 'atonal'), although many others have continued to write tonal music. 

When chromatic scales, or parts of them, occur in real music, composers are often not fussy about their notation. Usually they are written in whatever way seems convenient, bearing in mind the key signature if there is one. In practice this generally means using a minimum number of accidentals needed to do the job, though there can be more than one way of achieving this.

Theorists distinguish between two ways of writing the chromatic scale: the harmonic and the melodic.

1. The Harmonic Chromatic Scale is the same whether ascending or descending, and whether it occurs in a major or in a minor key. It includes all the notes of the major and mior scales (both harmonic and melodic), plus the flattened 2nd and sharpened 4th degrees. In practice this always mean that every degree of the scale has to be written twice, except the 5th and, of course, the key-note at the top and bottom.

2. The Melodic Chromatic Scales are less rigid in their construction: in fact, theorists do not invariably agree exactly how they are formed. What may be said is that they differ in their ascending and descending versions, and also according to whether the key is major or minor. Perhaps the simplest way of forming is to include, first, all the notes of the key (in a minor key these include the notes of both the melodic and harmonic scales). The additional notes are then provided by sharpening the diatonic notes (where required) in the ascending form, or by flattening them in the descending form.

Thanks for reading! 

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
experts
in Musical Instruments on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Musical Instruments?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (0)
ARTICLE DETAILS
RELATED ARTICLES
ARTICLE KEYWORDS