Musical scale

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In music, a scale is a sequence of musical notes in ascending and descending order that provides material for or is used to conveniently represent part or all of a musical work including melody and/or harmony.[1] Scales are ordered in pitch or pitch class, with their ordering providing a measure of musical distance. Scales are divided, based on the intervals between the notes they contain, into categories including diatonic, major, minor, and others, with a specific group of notes thus being described as a C-major scale, D-minor scale, etc.

The distance between two successive notes in a scale is called a scale step.

Contents

Background

Scales are typically listed from low to high. Most scales are octave-repeating, meaning their pattern of notes is the same in every octave. An octave-repeating scale can be represented as a circular arrangement of pitch classes, ordered by increasing (or decreasing) pitch class. For instance, the increasing C major scale is C-D-E-F-G-A-B-[C], with the bracket indicating that the last note is an octave higher than the first note, and the decreasing C major scale is C-B-A-G-F-E-D-[C], with the bracket indicating an octave lower than the first note in the scale.

This single scale can be manifested at many different pitch levels. For example, a C major scale can be started at C4 (middle C; see scientific pitch notation) and ascending an octave to C5; or it could be started at C6, ascending an octave to C7.

Scales may be described according to the intervals they contain:

or by the number of different pitch classes they contain:

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