Friday, June 12, 2009

Scale resources

In responding to the comment by Steven Hall to the post below, I was curious as to what other resources are out there about musical scales. I found an interesting site called Dolmetsch Online, which includes a listing of 1000+ scales from around the world. It cannot identify scales by inputting the notes, but it can list the notes for any given scale starting on any given pitch, and lists the related scale topics below. So inputting starting note D for an Ahava Rabba (Jewish) scale, the music notation lists the scale in C, and below gives the notes for the scale starting on D. And below that, links to internet sites on Pentatonic scales, Japanese Scales, Yo Scale, Modes, etc. It's too bad the music notation doesn't change with the transposition, but it is an interesting resource.


Elaine Fine said...

Your link to Dolmetsch Online doesn't go anywhere. Thanks for pointing it out (I'll search for it myself).

Scott said...

Ack, I've been having problems with Blogger's automatic link-creating tool lately, it keeps adding additional quote marks. The link is fixed now.

Elaine Fine said...

Thanks Scott! I was not able to find it on my own.

Daniel Wolf said...

Manuel Op de Coul's freeware, Scala, includes a huge library of scales, in a huge number of tunings (12tet included) with a large variety of tools for constructing, analysing, comparing and searching for scales.

If you want 12tet scales alone, Slonimsky's Thesaurus remains a great reference, a one that has had a surprisingly (to Slonimsky himself) useful life in the jazz community.

Caleb Deupree said...

Another scale resource is Nick Didkovsky's Musical Scale Enumerator, where you can enter the number between 1 and 12 and see all possible scales with that number of notes. The results are displayed in musical and interval notation, with a harmonization, and from the results page you can hear the scale performed.

Jim Plamondon said...

Is the natural minor scale a scale, or a mode of the diatonic scale?

Is the Pythagorean scale a scale, or just the diatonic scale in Pythagorean tuning?

I suspect that most of the 1000+ scales listed in the above reference are not different scales at all, but instead are different modes and tunings of a very small number of actual scales.

Consider, for example, the diatonic scale played using dynamic tuning:

The sound quality in the demo is terrible, and the exposition is embarassingly over the top, but the point is clear: a single scale is fundamentally "the same" in every tuning.

What matters in the definition of a scale is the relationships among the intervals between the scale's notes, not the absolute width of those intervals, or the pitches of the notes themselves.

By this definition, there are remarkably few scales, albeit each with many modes and an infinite number of tunings.