For my first example, I chose to explore the whole-tone scale. It belongs to the category of symmetrical scales, in which the scales are built from symmetrical repetition of an interval or a short intervallic pattern. In the case of the whole-tone scale, the interval of major second is repeated between the neighboring tones, resulting in the scale having six tones within an octave – being a type of hexatonic scale. (Fig. 1a) It can also be conceived as two augmented triads a major second apart. (Fig. 1b)
After writing my first example using the whole-tone scale, I decided to employ octatonic scale for my second example, which results from the alternation of whole and semitone steps. There are two versions, depending on whether the order begins with a whole tone or a semitone. (Fig. 1) Note that there are several other manners to notate the scale, depending on whether sharps or flats are utilized for specific notes. (Fig. 2) With no standardization, all of these notational variants are used, varying from composer to composer, depending on the musical ideas.
Fig. 1. Two versions of the octatonic scale
Fig. 2. Some notational variations of the octatonic scale
But before I focus on the properties of the octatonic scale, I have to address how puzzled I was as to why it was associated with Middle East in the West. I’ve already started my research on the Middle Eastern modes, which you can read in my three-part research here. As I wrote there, the modern practice of Arabic maqam, Turkish makam and Persian dastgah, and the related Afghanistan, Central Asian and Caucasus systems, actually use heptatonic modes. It is in the older traditions that we see the octatonic modes. Continue reading “Example 2 Research: Octatonic scale and Orientalism”
Scherzo in Italian means a joke. (Taylor, 1989: p. xx) One of the earliest use of the word in a title of a musical piece was in light-hearted madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi – his Scherzi musicali with two sets of pieces. (Gordon, 2002: 38) Then we have Antonio Brunelli, in his pieces for voices and instruments titled Scherzi, Arie, Canzonette e Madrigale. (Hammond: 164) Johann Baptist Schenk also wrote Scherzi musicali, however it is only a title for fourteen suites for gamba and cotinuo.
Later, the term scherzo was used to denote lively instrumental works in fast tempos in duple time signature, commonly in 2/4. Such is the case with the scherzo in Bach’s Keyboard Partita no. 3 (Dzapo, 59) and later, in Haydn’s Sonatina in F major.