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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chromatic scale
# of pitch classes: 12
Maximal evenness
Degenerate well-formed collection

The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone or half step apart. A chromatic scale is a nondiatonic scale consisting entirely of half-step intervals having no tonic due to the symmetry of its equally spaced tones[1].

Chromatic scale on C: full octave ascending and descending

The most common conception of the chromatic scale before equal temperament was the Pythagorean chromatic scale, which is essentially a series of eleven 3:2 perfect fifths. The twelve-tone equally tempered scale tempers, or modifies, the Pythagorean chromatic scale by lowering each fifth slightly less than two cents, thus eliminating the Pythagorean comma of approximately 23.5 cents. Various other temperaments have also been proposed and implemented.

The term chromatic derives from the Greek word chroma, meaning color. Chromatic notes are traditionally understood as harmonically inessential embellishments, shadings, or inflections of diatonic notes.


Total chromatic

The total chromatic (aggregate[2]) is the set of all twelve pitch classes. An array is a succession of aggregates[2]. See also: Tone row.


About this sound Listen

Although composers have not been consistent, music theorists have divided the notation of any chromatic scale into a variety of ways:

The ascending chromatic scale[1] Chromatic scale ascending, notated only with sharps
The descending chromatic scale[1] Chromatic scale descending, notated only with flats
The harmonic chromatic scale The Harmonic Chromatic Scale Starting on C
The melodic chromatic scale A Melodic Chromatic Scale Starting on C

The harmonic chromatic scale has a set form that remains the same whether ascending or descending and regardless of key signature. It is created by including all the notes from both the major and minor (melodic and harmonic) scales and then adding the flattened 2nd and sharpened 4th degrees from the starting note. The harmonic chromatic scale therefore has every degree of the scale written twice, apart from the 5th and the key-note or starting note at the top or bottom.

The melodic chromatic scale has no set form that is agreed upon by all. However their form is dependent upon major or minor key signatures and whether the scale is ascending or descending. The image above therefore is only an example of the melodic chromatic scale, as it has no set form. That no scale degree should be used more than twice in succession (for instance G flat - G natural - G sharp) is however a principle upon which most are agreed.

Keyboard fingering

Here is the standard keyboard fingering for a chromatic scale; where 1 means the thumb; 2 the index finger; 3 the middle finger:

Chromatic scale fingering

Historical usage

The ancient Greeks wrote of three genera of tetrachords: the diatonic, the chromatic, and the enharmonic. Some theorists, such as Ptolemy, assigned specific frequency proportions to these genera and others, such as Aristoxenus, did not. The tetrachords proceeded in descending order, the diatonic genus filling a perfect fourth with two whole tones and a semitone, the chromatic genus filling a perfect fourth with a minor third and two semitones, and the enharmonic genus filling a perfect fourth with a major third and two quarter tones.

Nonwestern cultures

  • The ancient Chinese chromatic scale is called Shi Er Lü.
  • The Indian solfege, i.e., Sargam makes up the twelve notes of the chromatic scale with respective sharps and flats.

Audio examples

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See also


  1. ^ a b c Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.47. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
  2. ^ a b Whittall, Arnold. 2008. The Cambridge Introduction to Serialism, p.271. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-68200-8 (pbk).

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Music article)

From Wikiquote

Music is an art form that involves sounds and silence. Music may be used for artistic or aesthetic, communicative, entertainment, or ceremonial purposes. The definition of what constitutes music varies according to culture and social context.



  • All aspects of musical practice may be disengaged, and privileged, in order to give birth to new forms of variation: variations on the relationships between the composer and the performer, between the conductor and the performer, between the performers, between the performer and the listener, variations upon gestures, variations on silence that end in a mute music that is still music because it preserves still something of the musical totality of the tradition...all elements belonging to the total musical fact may be seperated and taken as a strategic variable of musical production. This autonomization serves as true musical experimentation: little by little, the individual variables that make up a total musical fact are brought to light. Any particular music then appears as one that has made a choice among these variables, and that has privileged a certain number of them. Under these conditions, musical analysis would have to begin by recognizing the strategic variables characteristic of a given musical system: musical invention and musical analysis lend each other mutual aid.
    • Jean Molino quoted in Nattiez, Jean-Jacques, Abbate, Carolyn (translator) (1987 (original), 1990 (translation)). Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music. pp. 42–43. ISBN 0691027145.  
  • Being in a band is really great when you're 20. When you're 30, it's kind of 'Spinal Tap,' and when you're 40, it's just pathetic.
  • The emphasis of study upon a particular aspect of music is in itself ideological because it contains implications about the music's value.
    • Green, Lucy (1999). "Ideology". Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture. ISBN 0631212639.  
  • If we compel the composer to write in terms of what the listener is able to hear, we flirt with the danger of freezing the evolution of musical language, whose progressive development comes about through transgressions of a given era's perceptual habits."
    • Nattiez, Jean-Jacques, Abbate, Carolyn (translator) (1987 (original), 1990 (translation)). Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music. ISBN 0691027145.  
  • In order for music to free itself, it will have to pass over to the other side -— there where territories tremble, where the structures collapse, where the ethoses get mixed up, where a powerful song of the earth is unleashed, the great ritornelles that transmutes all the airs it carries away and makes return.
  • It appears to me that the subject of music, from Machaut to Boulez, has always been its construction. Melodies of 12-tone rows just don't happen. They must be constructed. … To demonstrate any formal idea in music, whether structure or stricture, is a matter of construction, in which the methodology is the controlling metaphor of the composition... Only by 'unfixing' the elements traditionally used to construct a piece of music could the sounds exist in themselves—not as symbols, or memories which were memories of other music to begin with.
    • Morton Feldman, quoted in Kostelanetz, Richard (editor) and Joseph Darby (editor). Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music. ISBN 0028645812.  
  • Most people have music in the center of their lives. I believe my work sheds light on how music affects us and why it is so influential.
  • Music has no subject beyond the combinations of notes we hear, for music speaks not only by means of sounds, it speaks nothing but sound.
  • One day I said to myself that it would be better to get rid of all that—melody, rhythm, harmony, etc. This was not a negative thought and did not mean that it was necessary to avoid them, but rather that, while doing something else, they would appear spontaneously. We had to liberate ourselves from the direct and peremptory consequence of intention and effect, because the intention would always be our own and would be circumscribed, when so many other forces are evidently in action in the final effect.
    • Christian Wolff, quoted in Kostelanetz, Richard (editor) and Joseph Darby (editor). Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music. ISBN 0028645812.  
  • Our musical alphabet is poor and illogical. Music, which should pulsate with life, needs new means of expression, and science alone can infuse it with youthful vigor. Why, Italian Futurists, have you slavishly reproduced only what is commonplace and boring in the bustle of our daily lives. I dream of instruments obedient to my thought and which with their contribution of a whole new world of unsuspected sounds, will lend themselves to the exigencies of my inner rhythm.
    • Edgard Varese, quoted in Kostelanetz, Richard (editor) and Joseph Darby (editor). Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music. ISBN 0028645812.  
  • The term 'chromatic' is understood by musicians to refer to music which includes tones which are not members of the prevailing scale, and also as a word descriptive of those individually non-diatonic tones.
    • Shir-Cliff, J (1965). Chromatic Harmony. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 0029286301.  
  • We can no longer maintain any distinction between music and discourse about music, between the supposed object of analysis and the terms of analysis.
    • Horner, Bruce (1999). "Discourse". Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture. ISBN 0631212639.  
  • We must ask whether a cross-cultural musical universal is to be found in the music itself (either its structure or function) or the way in which music is made. By 'music-making,' I intend not only actual performance but also how music is heard, understood, even learned.
    • Dane Harwood (1976:522). "Universals in Music: A Perspective from Cognitive Psychology", Ethnomusicology 20, no. 3:521-33
  • We're blues people. And blues never lets tragedy have the last word.
  • Music is an extraordinary locksmith; it is so competent that it can open our soul's door even with closed eyes!
  • Orsino: If music be the food of love, play on;
    Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,
    The appetite may sicken and so die.
  • "We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer."
  • "Music" includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.


  • "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
  • "But then there's a moment like tonight, a profound and transcendent experience, the feeling as if a door has opened, and it's all because of that instrument, that incredible, magical instrument."
    • from the TV show Northern Exposure (episode 5x13, Mite Makes Right)
  • "Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune."
  • "For those of you seeking immortality, forget politics. Support the arts instead."
    • Dr. Ruth Griffioen
  • "I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to."
  • "I look at it this way, if the guitarist jumps ship, and we can't replace him, i'll point my gun at my drummer, and he'll point his at me, we'll count to three and end this madness."
    • Toast
  • "If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music."
  • "If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience."
  • "In the beginning there was Jack, and Jack had a groove. And from this groove came the grooves of all grooves. And while one day visciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldly declared: "Let there be house!" And housemusic was born. I am you see, I am the creator, and this is my house, and in my house there is only housemusic. But I am not so selfish, because once you're into my house it then becomes our house and our housemusic. And you see, no one man owns house, because housemusic is a universal language spoken and understood by all. You see, house is a feeling, that no one can understand really, unless you're deep into the vibe of house. House is an uncontrolable desire to jack your body. And as I told you before: This is our house and our housemusic. In every house, you understand, there is a keeper and in this house the keeper is Jack. Now, some of you might wonder "Who is Jack and what is it that Jack does?" Jack is the one who gives you the power to jack your body. Jack is the one who gives you the power to do the snake. Jack is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly worm. Jack is the one who learns you how to walk your body. Jack is the one that can bring nations and nations of all jackers together under one house. You may be black, you may be white, you may be Jew or Gentile... It dont make a difference in our house. And this is fresh."
    • Larry Heard (Mr Fingers)
  • "Music is the chalk to the blackboard of life. Without it, everything is a blank slate."
    • Lexi Carter
  • "Playing the blues is like having to be black twice - Stevie Ray Vaughan missed on both counts, but I never noticed."
    • B.B. King
  • "There is only one better thing than music - live music."
    • Jacek Bukowski
  • "The immoral profession of musical criticism must be abolished."
  • "…I think, fundamentally, music is something inherently people love and need and relate to, and a lot of what's out right now feels like McDonalds. It's quick-fix. You kind of have a stomachache afterwards."
  • "I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music."
  • "It seems like people get afraid of a certain music if they can't pigeonhole it to their satisfaction...Good music is good music, and that should be enough for anybody."
  • The most important thing to me as a songwriter is the breath. The most important thing I could say to somebody is, "Sometimes I just breathe you in."
  • Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
  • Musicians are the architects of heaven.
    • Bobby McFerrin
  • Music is a discipline, and a mistress of order and good manners, she makes the people milder and gentler, more moral and more reasonable.
  • Music is a laudable medium of soothening the hearts of people.
    • M.S. Subbulakshmi
  • Music is essentially useless, as life is: but both have an ideal extension which lends utility to its conditions.
  • Music is everything one listens to with the intention of listening to music.
  • Music is the application of sounds to the canvas of silence.
  • Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.
  • Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing.
    • John Erskine
  • Music is what I love and it's what I feel and it's in me and to know that I can do something that I enjoy and hopefully bring some enjoyment to other people through is an incredible felling and I am just really thankful for it.
  • Music, like religion, unconditionally brings in its train all the moral virtues to the heart it enters, even though that heart is not in the least worthy.
    • Jean Baptiste Montegut
  • Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays.
  • Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.
  • My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.
  • My mother's idol among pianists was Paderewski. I knew that I would never be a Paderewski, so I searched among the other great pianists of the day, looking for a model, and I found one at last who seemed to be just right for me. He was Vladimir de Pachmann. His style was refined, and so was mine. He was distinguished for the fact that especially in the works of Chopin he struck a great number of wrong notes. It was here that I knew I could rival him, and perhaps even excel him. You see, he struck his wrong notes in extremely rapid passages; I worked at my technique until I was certain that I could strike great numbers of wrong notes in very slow passages.
  • No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.
  • Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.
  • There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.
  • There are two means of refuge from the misery of life—music and cats.
  • Those who are affected by music can be divided into two classes: those who hear the spiritual meaning, and those who hear the material sound. There are good and evil results in each case.
    • Anonymous
  • When we are touched by a song, it is because the artist cannot hide himself.
  • The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, "Is there a meaning to music?" My answer would be, "Yes." And "Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?" My answer to that would be, "No."
  • "Look, I'm a pop star... I'm very busy. I do not have time to learn how to play a musical instrument."
    • Phil Oakey of The Human League
  • The only thing to rely on is music, as it is the only thing that will be there when you need it.
  • Music is everywhere from the sound of your alarm to the word goodnight.
    • Stephen Conlan
  • Music is the human soul compressed into noise
    • Richard Leadbeater
  • "Never sound pompous. You always sound noble, noble. Absolute character of music is nobility. Even popular music can be noble, you see. If it's not noble, then it's not very good..Music is an art of emotion, of nobility, of dignity, of greatness, of love, of tenderness. All that must be brought out in music but never a show of pompousness."
  • "I think of music more like a mirror that reflects the things we feel inside to the rest of the world."
    • Joshua Greenway when reflecting on the various claims that music gives meaning to life.

See also

External links

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Simple English

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