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Related to diatonic: Diatonic semitone


1. of, relating to, or based upon any scale of five tones and two semitones produced by playing the white keys of a keyboard instrument, esp the natural major or minor scales forming the basis of the key system in Western music
2. not involving the sharpening or flattening of the notes of the major or minor scale nor the use of such notes as modified by accidentals



a seven-tone system, all of whose tones can be located in perfect fifths. The medieval modes and natural modes, including the common Ionian mode (natural major) and Aeolian mode (natural minor), are all strictly diatonic.

Modes and modal formations that may be treated as a part of the diatonic scale—the pentatonic system, the medieval hexachords, and a number of tetrachords and trichords—are also diatonic. All such modes consist only of whole tones and semitones. Any intervals or chords that can be formed from the tones of diatonic modes are also considered diatonic.

The diatonic system is the foundation of European modal folk and professional music. In a wider sense, any modes that do not include chromatics (the raising or lowering of the basic tones of the scale) are categorized diatonic. There are both conventional diatonic modes (the harmonic and melodic minor and major) and modified diatonic modes. In several of these modes there are augmented seconds, as well as whole tones and semitones.

Nondiatonic elements are formed not only by the use of chromaticism but also by mixing various diatonic elements simultaneously and sequentially (polydiatonics). The modal harmonic work of contemporary composers is often polydiatonic.


Katuar, G. L. Teoreticheskii kurs garmonii, part 1. Moscow, 1924.
Sokhor, A. “O prirode i vyrazitel’nykh vozmozhnostiakh diatoniki.” In the collection Voprosy teorii i estetiki muzyki, fasc. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Tiulin, Iu. N. Uchenie o garmonii, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Pereverzev, N. Problemy muzykal’nogo intonirovaniia. Moscow, 1966.
Sposobin, I. V. Lektsii po kursu garmonii. Moscow, 1969.
Berkov, V. O. Garmoniia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.
Vincent, J. The Diatonic Modes in Modern Music. Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1951.
References in periodicals archive ?
1) Instead of using the traditional diatonic order of whole steps and half steps (the source of the ancient Greek and medieval modes, and of the modern major scale), the serial composer takes as his governing principle a row or series comprising all twelve chromatic tones within the octave.
The African American system of blues temperament is the synthesis of the Western European fixed, diatonic temperament with an amalgam of West and Central African pitch and modal systems.
Being diatonic (tuned to one key), he could not modulate from one key to another, and could not create the harmonies he heard on recordings by Peterson, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and other jazzmen.
Choose a larger value for the modulus m, large enough to embrace two or more diatonic octaves.
Claves, Egg Shakers, Finger Cymbals, Drum, Wrist/Ankle Bell, Wood Maracus, Rhythm Stick, Triangle, Resonator Bells & Bars, Diatonic Alto Xylophone, 8 note Press Bell, Brass Cymbals, Headles Tambourine, Lollipop Drum,Wooden Agogo, Cabasa Mini, Chilean Rainstick, Stage Piano, Ukulele, Angklong, Scarves, Streamers/Ribbons required for Phase 2 MK to operate K1 classes in Year 2015
Though foreign to ears accustomed to traditional diatonic music, the piece was endlessly interesting and enjoyable to hear.
Friction: Imagine a scalar melody with few twists and turns, consisting of only diatonic tones--doesn't it flow effortlessly?
Indeed, the traditional yangqin's shape, diatonic tuning, and long hammers held between thumb and index finger suggest a provenance from the hammered dulcimers of Europe, rather than the Persian santir.
This was in Newton's famous 'colour wheel' conception, according to which he suggested that the ratios of diatonic intervals correlated to the seven colours of the rainbow.
Other publications from this publisher that are also recommended are "How To Play Diatonic Button-Accordion, Volume 3" by Henry Doctorski (TS108, book and CD, $14.
Chapters are organized from simple to advanced harmony, from the basic elements of music, to diatonic harmony, to chromatic harmony and form, to the twentieth century and beyond, which correspond to The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis.
In The Story of the Blues, Paul Oliver uses the term diatonic, which (they point out) should be replaced by the term chromatic scale (p.