pentatonic scale

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pentatonic scale

Music any of several scales consisting of five notes, the most commonly encountered one being composed of the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth degrees of the major diatonic scale

Pentatonic Scale


a tonal system that has five steps to the octave. The main type of pentatonic scale (the tonal, or natural scale, as well as the Chinese or Scottish scale) has no semitones, and its tones can be arranged in perfect fifths. In this scale, there can be only two intervals between adjacent steps—the minor third or the major second. Characteristic of the pentatonic scale are three-step groups, or tetrachords, that have no semitones (for example, mi-sol-la). Because of the absence of semitones, strong harmonic tendencies are not inherent in this scale. It lacks a definite tonal center—that is, any of the five tones can serve as the central tone. Consequently, five variants of the pentatonic scale can be produced from a single combination of tones.

The pentatonic scale, which has been called protodiatonic by the Soviet musicologist G. L. Katuar, is a natural stage in the development of musical thought. For this reason, the scale (or its rudiments) is found in the oldest musical folklore of various peoples. In its pure form the pentatonic scale is common in the music of China, Vietnam, and other Oriental countries. In the USSR, it is widely encountered in the music of the Tatars, Bashkirs, and Buriats, for example. Elements of the pentatonic system are also inherent in the most ancient Russian folk songs.


Kozlov, I. A. “Piatizvuchnye bespolutonnye gammy v tatarskoi i bashkirskoi narodnoi muzyke i ikh muzykal’no-teoreticheskii analiz.” Izv. obshchestva arkheologii, istorii i etnografii pri Kazanskom gos. universitete, 1928, vol. 34.
Girshman, la. Pentatonika i ee razvitie v tatarskoi muzyke. Moscow, 1960.
Kvitka, K. V. “Ladovye sistemy v muzyke slavian i sosednykh narodov.” In his book Izbr. trudy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1971.
Riemann, H. Folkloristische Tonalitätsstudien. Leipzig, 1916.


References in periodicals archive ?
As the wedding party returns to the Duke's home, leaving the forest behind, the musical elements of exoticism, such as the pentatonic scale and indigenous Japanese instruments present during their exile, are diminished.
Some pop songs are based loosely around the pentatonic scale but don't follow it so closely, according to the Jo Jingles study, and don't generate the same innate response in youngsters.
Here the dyads are omitted, and the different forms of pentatonic scale are represented by P and the subscripted integer following it.
From this, I showed her how to play a C pentatonic scale because there are natural skips and jumps built into it and explained that a lot of the most catchy tunes are based on pentatonic scales.
But while I use the Chinese pentatonic scale (just play five consecutive black notes on the piano) for the ceremonial scenes (marches, weddings, and the street festivals), there is a greater use of middle eastern rhythms and drones.
The different notes will create a harmonic droning noise from across the pentatonic scale.
The traditional pentatonic scale is explored in depth by the time the author introduces the concept of tablature and how it relates to the pictured fingering charts.
Among Armstrong's influences are Hines's approach to the "blues aesthetic," melodies that feature a rising pentatonic scale and the conspicuous presence of a rhythmic motive of three quarter notes followed by a quarter rest (both features again noted in the critical commentary to "Fifty-Seven Varieties," p.
Furthermore, he found that all ancient music from around the world is part of a common body of music based on a common means of expression--the pentatonic scale (Robeson 1958/1971/1988).
The only scale contained within the C12 chromatic that looks like this is the anhemitonic pentatonic scale, with groups of whole tones separated by minor thirds.
Just this past year, I had an activity where they were in groups and each group member was assigned a note from the doh pentatonic scale, which we had done a lot of work on previously.
At no stage during the fairly lengthy section transcribed do the shouters vocalise anything that violates the pentatonic scale of the chant" (p.