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Roots of the ClassicalThe Popular Origins of Western Music$
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Peter Van der Merwe

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198166474

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198166474.001.0001

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The Debt to the East

The Debt to the East

(p.144) 11 The Debt to the East
Roots of the Classical

Peter van der Merwe

Oxford University Press

Over many centuries, Western music has drawn on the partially Oriental music of southern and eastern Europe. This chapter examines this process, and in particular, the Gypsy music that profoundly influenced the Viennese school. Among features discussed are drones and ostinatos (separately or in combination), melodic outline, recurring figures, and sequences. Most important of all are the modes, e.g., the Phrygian, Lydian, ‘Gypsy’ (with one or two augmented seconds), ‘acoustic’ (c–d–e–f sharp–g–a–b flat), and major–minor (c–d–e–f–g–a flat–b flat). The last two belong to the ‘heptatonia secunda’ scale, and are among the ancestors of the octatonic scale of alternating tones and semitones. In most of these modes, individual degrees of the scale fluctuate between major and minor, making possible both advanced chromaticism and extended tonality.

Keywords:   Oriental music, Gypsy music, drones, ostinatos, sequences, modes, Phrygian mode, Lydian mode, heptatonia secunda scale, octatonic scale

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