• What You Need To Know About Omission And Repetition In Scale Formation

    in Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    Our focus is on the basic things you need to know about omission and repetition as regards scale formation.

    Scales are very important in music for a variety of reasons; the most common being that they govern the formation of intervals and chords, etc. Heck, even chord progressions are influenced by scales.

    Due to the importance of scales in music theory (and practice), we’ll be investing the next 7 to 10 minutes of this lesson into learning how omission and repetition can affect the spelling of a scale.

    But before we get started, let’s refresh our minds on traditional scales.

    A Short Note On Traditional Scales In Classical Music

    A scale is a melodic progression of notes in ascending or descending order, based on a fixed formula. Playing all the notes in the key of C major:

    …in ascending or descending order produces a scale — the C major scale.

    In European art music (aka – “classical music”), there are long-established scales that have been associated with intervals, chords, and progressions for over 400 years and they are generally referred to as traditional scales.

    “Let’s Consider Them…”

    The Natural Major Scale

    The natural major scale can be formed by playing all the white notes on the keyboard from C to C:

    The natural major scale can be played starting from other notes too.

    “Check Out Other Natural Major Scales…”

    Db natural major scale:

    D natural major scale:

    Eb natural major scale:

    E natural major scale:

    F natural major scale:

    Gb natural major scale:

    G natural major scale:

    Ab natural major scale:

    A natural major scale:

    Bb natural major scale:

    B natural major scale:

    The Natural Minor Scale

    The natural minor scale can be formed by playing all the white notes on the keyboard from A to A:

    The natural minor scale can be played starting from other notes too.

    “Check Out Other Natural Minor Scales…”
    Bb natural minor scale:

    B natural minor scale:

    C natural minor scale:

    C# natural minor scale:

    D natural minor scale:

    Eb natural minor scale:

    E natural minor scale:

    F natural minor scale:

    F# natural minor scale:

    G natural minor scale:

    G# natural minor scale:

    The Harmonic Minor Scale

    Raising the seventh tone of the natural minor scale by a half-step produces the harmonic minor scale. For example, the A natural minor scale:

    …can be used in the formation of the A harmonic minor scale. Raising the seventh tone (which is G):

    …by a half-step (to G#):

    …produces the A harmonic minor scale:

    The harmonic minor scale can be played starting from other notes too.

    “Check Out Other Harmonic Minor Scales…”

    Bb harmonic minor scale:

    B harmonic minor scale:

    C harmonic minor scale:

    C# harmonic minor scale:

    D harmonic minor scale:

    Eb harmonic minor scale:

    E harmonic minor scale:

    F harmonic minor scale:

    F# harmonic minor scale:

    G harmonic minor scale:

    Ab harmonic minor scale:

    The Melodic Minor Scale

    Lowering the third tone of the natural major scale by a half-step produces the melodic minor scale. For example, the C natural major scale:

    …can be used in the formation of the C melodic minor scale. lowering the third tone (which is E):

    …by a half-step (to Eb):

    …produces the C melodic minor scale:

    The melodic minor scale can be played starting from other notes too.

    “Check Out Other Melodic Minor Scales…”

    C# melodic minor scale:

    D melodic minor scale:

    Eb melodic minor scale:

    E melodic minor scale:

    F melodic minor scale:

    F# melodic minor scale:

    G melodic minor scale:

    Ab melodic minor scale:

    A melodic minor scale:

    Bb melodic minor scale:

    B melodic minor scale:

    C melodic minor scale:

    Beware Of Omission And Repetition In Scale Formation

    Musical notes can be represented using the first seven letters of the alphabet:

     A B C D E F G

    …and pitch modifiers (sharp and flat symbols):

    # b

    It is important to know that in the formation of scale, the letters and pitch modifiers are used in alphabetic order without omission or repetition. This means that after every A-note is a B-note; after every B-note is a C-note and so on and so forth.

    This produces two guidelines:

    1. No letter of the alphabet should be omitted
    2. No letter of the alphabet should be repeated.

    Let’s go ahead and consider these two guidelines

    Omission Of An Alphabet

    The letters of the alphabet must be presented in alphabetic order without the omission of an alphabet. For example, in the C# major scale:

    The first tone is C#

    The second tone is D# and not Eb.

    “So, Why Is It Wrong To Say That Eb Is The Second Tone In The Key Of C#?”

    The representation of the second tone in the key of C# as Eb produces the omission of an alphabet — D.

    In alphabetic order, after C is D (and not E). Therefore, having an Eb after C# produces an omission of D which is inappropriate and here’s why:

    The interval between the first tone of the scale and the second tone is supposed to be a “major second”. However, from C# to Eb is NOT a major second; it’s rather a diminished third interval. The diminished third interval in traditional scales is usually a product of the error of omission.

    So, to avoid diminished third intervals, it’s important to beware of the omission of an alphabet.

    From C# to D# is a major second interval and the notes are spelled in alphabetic order. Therefore, in the case of the second tone of the C# major scale, D# is appropriate; irrespective of the fact that D# and Eb sound practically the same when played.

    Final Words

    In a nutshell, the omission or repetition of an alphabetic disrupts the alphabetic order of the notes in a scale. Therefore, while spelling scales, it is important to stick to these guidelines that would ensure that there are no omissions and repetitions.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll take our discussion on scales a step further.

    See you then!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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