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 ?
For example, the blue scales scattered over the hind-wing of a dark morph female were quantified, even though these small blue spots were on a black background.
Shad is characterized by metallic silver and blue scales and contain two plump roe sacks.
THE Blue-spotted Tree Monitor lizard (Varanus Macraei) is black with scattered blue scales, forming spots that may in turn form bands across the back.
2]-2A, outlined distad and posterior half proximad with single row of pale blue scales; small pale blue macule at base of discal cell; pale blue postbasal band across wing from anal margin to anterior discal cell continued in costal cell by a few pale blue scales; a few pale blue scales just caudud of [CuA.
2] to well distad of distal end of that macule roughly aligned with white macule in discal cell; pale blue macule at base of costa; postbasal band faint, most prominent in discal cell; thin line of pale blue scales at distal end of discal cell; submarginal pale blue macules somewhat more prominent than on dorsum, that in [CuA.
2]-2A to submargin; irregular and less distinct submarginal patches of pale blue scales in [M.
Hindwing more convex and broader than on male, termen slightly undulate to a short projection at end of vein 2A; mostly black, but slightly browner along costa and anal margin; pale blue submarginal band divided by black veins, narrowing somewhat from Rs to 2A, curving slightly caudad, broader pale blue macule posterior to vein 2A; similar, more-or-less parallel medial band, about equally broad throughout, anteriormost portion of scales like those of submarginal band, posterior portion not well-defined, of blue scales and bluish white hair-like scales; postbasal curved band of bluish white hair-like scales from anterior discal cell to beyond 2A; fringe white with black at tips of veins, a few black scales intermixed in cell Sc+[R.
By then, the fish was already decomposing and its bright blue scales had faded.
Synapomorphies to define this group are: male coloration consisting of light blue scales with a large irregularly reticulated pattern on body, forming oblique bars in vivid red color, vivid red coloration on the head and in dorsal areas, yellow to yellowish anal fin, large vivid red spot pattern on dorsal and anal fins, red caudal fin of subtruncated shape; relatively deep body (up to 38% of SL); moderately compressed, and rounded head; dorsal profile of head slightly concave to nearly straight, convex from nape to end of dorsal fin base; variable cephalic squamation.