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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 August 2021

The Pentatonic Scale

The Pentatonic Scale

(p.38) 4 The Pentatonic Scale
Roots of the Classical

Peter van der Merwe

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how the pentatonic scale develops out of the children's chant, either by transference and superimposition (e.g., a–g–e + d–c–a) or by the addition of a note at either end (a–g–e + b + d). It also examines the paradoxical nature of this scale, which both maximizes melodic consonance and depends on the major second, an interval intermediate between consonance and dissonance. (Triadic melodies are in a sense pentatonic, since the major triad forms part of the pentatonic scale, but they are not fully pentatonic in effect.) By filling in the gaps, the pentatonic can be developed into the seven-note diatonic scale, but will still be present as a framework. Such frameworks fall into the three pentatonic species of ‘natural’ (c–d–e–g–a), ‘hard’ (e–g–a–b–d), or ‘soft’ (f–g–a–c–d).

Keywords:   children's chant, melodic consonance, triadic melodies, diatonic scale, pentatonic species

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