Whole-Tone Scale


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Related to Whole-Tone Scale: octatonic scale
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Whole-Tone Scale

 

a scale composed entirely of whole tones, six to the octave. The scale was used as a comic device by W. A. Mozart in the sextet A Musical Joke (1787), and it is encountered from time to time in romantic music. M. I. Glinka used the whole-tone scale in Ruslan and Liudmila as the motif identifying Chernomor (the “Chernomor scale”); the scale has also been used by other Russian composers, such as A. S. Dargomyzhskii and A. P. Borodin, and by French impressionist composers. As the expression of a unique “augmented chord harmony,” the whole-tone scale came to be used as the harmonic foundation of individual sections of a work or occasionally of entire compositions, for example, the prelude Voiles by C. Debussy. By the mid-20th century, the expressive possibilities of the whole-tone scale had essentially been exhausted, and it is now used very rarely.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In general, he uses contiguous segments of the whole-tone scale to represent the flowing of waters, and contiguous segments of the chromatic scale to portray coldness, crying, and the wind.
One disconnected scale has already been encountered: the whole-tone scale is a maximally disconnected set - every other note - in the (generalized) circle of fifths.
In common with "Desordre" (the first etude in book 1), each hand uses a different scale--the whole-tone scale C#-D#-F-G-A-B in the right and the complementary whole-tone scale C-D-E-F#-G#-A# in the left--to create the illusion of a different kind of composite scale or tuning.
There are some adventurous sounds and techniques, although used sparingly: modality, black-key forearm clusters, whole-tone scales and one brief instance of polytonality.
77-80), which uses devices such as whole-tone scales, and the seventh movement of the Etudes tableaux op.
Patterns include scales with arpeggios; scales in tetrachords, modes and thirds; arpeggiated diatonic chords and chromatics; blues; pentatonic and whole-tone scales. The second half presents all scales exercises by key.
Exercises in this book cover long tones, scales, arpeggios, ascending and descending tetrachords, modes, scales in thirds, and arpeggiated diatonic chords for all major and minor keys followed by pairs of exercises for chromatic, major blues, minor blues, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic and whole-tone scales. The format of this book follows an intentional pedagogical sequence from long tones to more complex technical patterns.
Characteristics include changing meters, modality, open fifths, pentatonicism, clusters, quartal chords and whole-tone scales. Amid these 20th-century compositional techniques, the tunes are always clearly presented, with some sequential or fantasy-like departures.
Open fifths, fourths and tritones, modality and whole-tone scales abound.
The rhythmic vitality is maintained in the next section, "poco meno mosso," but the language is now that of whole-tone scales and augmented triads.