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DiatonicandchromaticWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia
Melodiesmaybebasedonadiatonicscaleandmaintainitstonal
characteristicsbutcontainmanyaccidentalsuptoalltwelvetonesof
thechromaticscale,suchastheopeningofHenryPurcell's"Thy
Hand,Belinda",DidoandAeneas(1689)(Play,Playwithfigured
bass)whichfeatureselevenoftwelvepitcheswhilechromatically
descendingbyhalfsteps,[1]themissingpitchbeingsunglater.
BlaBartkMusicforStrings,PercussionandCelesta,mov.I,
fuguesubject:chromaticPlay.[2]
BartokMusicforStrings,PercussionandCelesta,mov.I,fugue
subject:diatonicvariantPlay.[2]
Diatonic(Greek:)andchromatic(Greek:)
aretermsinmusictheorythataremostoftenusedtocharacterizescales,andarealsoappliedtomusical
instruments,intervals,chords,notes,musicalstyles,andkindsofharmony.Theyareveryoftenused
asapair,especiallywhenappliedtocontrasting
featuresofthecommonpracticemusicofthe
period16001900.[3]
Thesetermsmaymeandifferentthingsin
differentcontexts.Veryoften,diatonicrefers
tomusicalelementsderivedfromthemodesand
transpositionsofthe"whitenotescale"CDE
FGAB.[4]Insomeusagesitincludesallforms
ofheptatonicscalethatareincommonuseinWesternmusic(themajor,andallformsoftheminor).[5]
Chromaticmostoftenreferstostructuresderivedfromthechromaticscale,whichconsistsofall
semitones.Historically,however,ithadothersenses,referringinAncientGreekmusictheorytoaparticular
tuningofthetetrachord,andtoarhythmicnotationalconventioninmensuralmusicofthe14ththrough16th
centuries.

Contents
History
Tetrachordgeneraofthefourstringlyre,fromTheHistoryoftheArts
andSciencesoftheAntients,CharlesRollin(1768).Thetextgivesa
typicallyfancifulaccountofthetermchromatic.

Greekgenera
InancientGreecetherewerethreestandardtunings(knownbytheLatin
wordgenus,pluralgenera)[6]ofalyre.[7]Thesethreetuningswerecalled
diatonic,[8]chromatic,[9]andenharmonic,[10]andthesequencesoffour
notesthattheyproducedwerecalledtetrachords("fourstrings").[11]A
diatonictetrachordcomprised,indescendingorder,twowholetonesand
asemitone,suchasAGFE(roughly).Inthechromatictetrachordthe
secondstringofthelyrewasloweredfromGtoG,sothatthetwolower
intervalsinthetetrachordweresemitones,makingthepitchesAGFE.In
theenharmonictetrachordthetuninghadtwoquartertoneintervalsat
thebottom:AGFE(whereFisFloweredbyaquartertone).Forall
threetetrachords,onlythemiddletwostringsvariedintheirpitch.[12]

Medievalcoloration

Thetermcromatico(Italian)wasoccasionallyusedintheMedievalandRenaissanceperiodstoreferto
thecoloration(Latincoloratio)ofcertainnotes.Thedetailsvarywidelybyperiodandplace,but
generallytheadditionofacolour(oftenred)toanemptyorfilledheadofanote,orthe"colouringin"ofan
otherwiseemptyheadofanote,shortensthedurationofthenote.[13]InworksoftheArsNovafromthe14th
century,thiswasusedtoindicateatemporarychangeinmetrefromtripletoduple,orviceversa.Thisusage
becamelesscommoninthe15thcenturyasopenwhitenoteheadsbecamethestandardnotationalformfor
minims(halfnotes)andlongernotescalledwhitemensuralnotation.[14][15]Similarly,inthe16thcentury,a
formofnotatingsecularmusic,especiallymadrigalsinwasreferredtoas"chromatic"becauseofits
abundanceof"colouredin"blacknotes,thatissemiminims(crotchetsorquarternotes)andshorter
notes,asopposedtotheopenwhitenotesin,commonlyusedforthenotationofsacredmusic.[16]These
usesforthewordhavenorelationshiptothemodernmeaningofchromatic,butthesensesurvivesin
thecurrenttermcoloratura.[17]

Renaissancechromaticism
Thetermchromaticbegantoapproachitsmodernusageinthe16thcentury.ForinstanceOrlandoLasso's
ProphetiaeSibyllarumopenswithaprologueproclaiming,"thesechromaticsongs,[18]heardinmodulation,
arethoseinwhichthemysteriesoftheSibylsaresung,intrepidly,"whichheretakesitsmodernmeaning
referringtothefrequentchangeofkeyanduseofchromaticintervalsinthework.(TheProphetiaebelonged
toanexperimentalmusicalmovementofthetime,calledmusicareservata).Thisusagecomesfroma
renewedinterestintheGreekgenera,especiallyitschromatictetrachord,notablybytheinfluentialtheorist
NicolaVicentinoinhistreatiseonancientandmodernpractice,1555.[19]

Diatonicscales
DiatonicscaleonCPlayequaltemperedandPlay
just.
GamutasdefinedbyGeorgeWilliamLemon,
EnglishEtymology,1783.
Medievaltheoristsdefinedscalesintermsofthe
Greektetrachords.Thegamutwastheseriesof
pitchesfromwhichalltheMedieval"scales"(ormodes,strictly)arenotionallyderived,anditmaybe
thoughtofasconstructedinacertainwayfromdiatonictetrachords.Theoriginofthewordgamutis
explainedatthearticleHexachordherethewordisusedinoneofthe
availablesenses:theallencompassinggamutasdescribedbyGuido
d'Arezzo(whichincludesallofthemodes).
TheintervalsfromonenotetothenextinthisMedievalgamutareall
tonesorsemitones,recurringinacertainpatternwithfivetones(T)and
twosemitones(S)inanygivenoctave.Thesemitonesareseparatedas
muchastheycanbe,betweenalternatinggroupsofthreetonesandtwo
tones.Herearetheintervalsforastringofascendingnotes(startingwith
F)fromthegamut:
...TTTSTTSTTTST...
Andherearetheintervalsforanascendingoctave(thesevenintervals
separatingtheeightnotesABCDEFGA)fromthegamut:
TSTTSTT[fivetonesandtwosemitones][20]

Initsmoststrictdefinition,therefore,adiatonicscaleisonethatmaybederivedfromthepitches
representedinsuccessivewhitekeysofthepiano(oratranspositionthereof):themodernequivalentofthe
gamut.(Forsimplicity,throughoutthisarticleequaltemperamenttuningisassumedunlessotherwisenoted.)
Thiswouldincludethemajorscale,andthenaturalminorscale(sameasthedescendingformofthemelodic
minor),butnottheoldecclesiasticalchurchmodes,mostofwhichincludedbothversionsofthe"variable"
noteB/B.

Modernmeanings
TherearespecificapplicationsinthemusicoftheCommonPracticePeriod,andlatermusicthatsharesits
corefeatures.
Most,butnotallwriters,[21]acceptthenaturalminorasdiatonic.Asforotherformsoftheminor:[22]
"Exclusive"usage
Somewritersconsistentlyclassifytheothervariantsoftheminorscalethemelodicminor(ascending
form)andtheharmonicminorasnondiatonic,sincetheyarenottranspositionsofthewhitenote
pitchesofthepiano.Amongsuchtheoriststhereisnoagreedgeneraltermthatencompassesthemajor
andallformsoftheminorscale.[23]
"Inclusive"usage
Somewritersconsistentlyincludethemelodicandharmonicminorscalesasdiatonicalso.Forthis
group,everyscalestandardlyusedincommonpracticemusicandmuchsimilarlatermusiciseither
diatonic(themajor,andallforms[24]oftheminor)orchromatic.[25]
"Mixed"usage
Stillotherwritersmixthesetwomeaningsofdiatonic(andconverselyforchromatic),andthismay
leadtoconfusionsandmisconceptions.Sometimes,thoughnotalways,thecontextmakesitclear
whichmeaningisintended.
Thereareafewothermeaningsofthetermdiatonicscale,someofwhichtaketheextensiontoharmonicand
melodicminorevenfurther,tobeevenmoreinclusive.[26]
Ingeneral,diatonicismostoftenusedinclusivelywithrespecttomusicthatrestrictsitselftostandardusesof
traditionalmajorandminorscales.Whendiscussingmusicthatusesalargervarietyofscalesandmodes
(includingmuchjazz,rock,andsometonal20thcenturyconcertmusic),writersoftenadopttheexclusiveuse
topreventconfusion.

Chromaticscale
Chromaticscale
onC:fulloctave
ascendingand
descendingPlay
.
Achromaticscaleconsistsofanascendingordescendingsequenceofpitchesproceedingalwaysby
semitones.Suchasequenceofpitcheswould,forexample,beproducedbyplayingblackandwhitekeysofa
pianoinorder,withoutleavinganyout.Thestructureofachromaticscaleisthereforeuniformthroughout,
unlikemajorandminorscaleswhichhavetonesandsemitonesinparticulararrangements(andanaugmented
second,intheharmonicminor).[27]

Musicalinstruments

Someinstruments,suchastheviolin,canbeplayedinanyscaleothers,suchastheglockenspiel,are
restrictedtothescaletowhichtheyaretuned.Amongthislatterclass,someinstruments,suchasthepiano,
arealwaystunedtoachromaticscale,andcanbeplayedinanykey,whileothersarerestrictedtoadiatonic
scale,andthereforetoaparticularkey.Someinstruments,suchastheharmonica,harp,andglockenspiel,
areavailableinbothdiatonicandchromaticversions.

DiatonicPixiphone,abrandof
glockenspiel

ChromaticPixiphone

Chromatic(rear)anddiatonic
harmonicas

Intervals
Becausediatonicscaleisitselfambiguous,distinguishingintervalsisalsoambiguous.[28]Forexample,the
intervalBE(adiminishedfourth,occurringinCharmonicminor)isconsidereddiatoniciftheharmonic
minorscaleisconsidereddiatonic[29]butitisconsideredchromaticiftheharmonicminorscaleisnot
considereddiatonic.[30]
Additionally,thelabelchromaticordiatonicforanintervalmaybesensitivetocontext.Forinstance,ina
passageinCmajor,theintervalCEcouldbeconsideredachromaticintervalbecauseitdoesnotappearin
theprevailingdiatonickeyconverselyinCminoritwouldbediatonic.Thisusageisstillsubjecttothe
categorizationofscalesasabove,e.g.intheBEexampleabove,classificationwouldstilldependon
whethertheharmonicminorscaleisconsidereddiatonic.

Indifferentsystemsoftuning
Pythagoreandiatonicandchromaticinterval:EFandEEPlay.
Inequaltemperament,thereisnodifferenceintuning(andtherefore
insound)betweenintervalsthatareenharmonicallyequivalent.For
example,thenotesFandErepresentexactlythesamepitch,sothe
diatonicintervalCF(aperfectfourth)soundsexactlythesameasitsenharmonicequivalentthe
chromaticintervalCE(anaugmentedthird).
Insystemsotherthanequaltemperament,however,thereisoftenadifferenceintuningbetweenintervals
thatareenharmonicallyequivalent.Intuningsystemsthatarebasedonacycleoffifths,suchasPythagorean
tuningandmeantonetemperament,thesealternativesarelabelledasdiatonicorchromaticintervals.Under
thesesystemsthecycleoffifthsisnotcircularinthesensethatapitchatoneendofthecycle(e.g.,G)isnot
tunedthesameastheenharmonicequivalentatitsotherend(A)theyaredifferentbyanamountknownas
acomma.
Thisbrokencyclecausesintervalsthatcrossthebreaktobewrittenasaugmentedordiminishedchromatic
intervals.Inmeantonetemperament,forinstance,chromaticsemitones(EE)aresmallerthandiatonic
semitones(EF),[31]andwithconsonantintervalssuchasthemajorthirdtheenharmonicequivalentis
generallylessconsonant.

Ifthetritoneisassumeddiatonic,theclassificationofwrittenintervalsbythisdefinitionisnotsignificantly
differentfromthe"drawnfromthesamediatonicscale"definitiongivenaboveaslongastheharmonicminor
andascendingmelodicminorscalevariantsarenotincluded.

Chords
Diatonicchordsaregenerallyunderstoodasthosethatarebuiltusingonlynotesfromthesamediatonic
scaleallotherchordsareconsideredchromatic.However,giventheambiguityofdiatonicscale,this
definition,too,isambiguous.Andforsometheorists,chordsareonlyeverdiatonicinarelativesense:the
augmentedtriadEGBisdiatonic"to"or"in"Cminor.[32]
Onthisunderstanding,thediminishedseventhchordbuiltontheleadingnoteisacceptedasdiatonicin
minorkeys.[33]
Ifthestrictestunderstandingofthetermdiatonicscaleisadheredtowherebyonlytransposed'whitenote
scales'areconsidereddiatonicevenamajortriadonthedominantscaledegreeinCminor(GBD)would
bechromaticoralteredinCminor.[34]Somewritersusethephrase"diatonicto"asasynonymfor"belonging
to".Thereforeachordcanbesaidtobediatonicifitsnotesbelongtotheunderlyingdiatonicscaleofthekey.

Harmony
Thewordsdiatonicandchromaticarealsoappliedinconsistentlytoharmony:
Oftenmusicianscalldiatonicharmonyanykindofharmonyinsidethemajorminorsystemof
commonpractice.Whendiatonicharmonyisunderstoodinthissense,thesupposedtermchromatic
harmonymeanslittle,becausechromaticchordsarealsousedinthatsamesystem.
Atothertimes,especiallyintextbooksandsyllabusesformusicalcompositionormusictheory,
diatonicharmonymeansharmonythatusesonly"diatonicchords".[35]Accordingtothisusage,
chromaticharmonyisthenharmonythatextendstheavailableresourcestoincludechromaticchords:
theaugmentedsixthchords,theNeapolitansixth,chromaticseventhchords,etc.[36]
Sincethewordharmonycanbeusedofsingleclassesofchords(dominantharmony,Eminor
harmony,forexample),diatonicharmonyandchromaticharmonycanbeusedinthisdistinctway
also.[37]
However,
Chromaticharmonymaybedefinedas"theuseoftwosuccessivechordswhichbelongtotwodifferent
keysandthereforecontaintonesrepresentedbythesamenotesymbolsbutwithdifferent
accidentals".[38]Fourbasictechniquesproducechromaticharmonyunderthisdefinition:modal
interchange,secondarydominants,melodictension,andchromaticmediants.[38]
Aclearillustrationofthecontrastbetweenchromaticanddiatonicharmonymaybefoundinthisextractfrom
ActIIIofRichardWagnersoperaDieWalkure.Thefirstfourbarsharmonizeadescendingchromaticscale
witharich,intoxicatingchordprogression.Incontrast,theremainingthreebarsareentirelydiatonic,using
notesonlywithinthescaleofEmajor.ThepassageisintendedtoconveythegodWotanputtinghisdaughter
Brunnhildeintoadeepsleep.[39]
MagicsleepmusicfromWagner'sDieWalkureActIII

Miscellaneoususages
Notes

Inmodernusage,themeaningsofthetermsdiatonicnoteandchromaticnotevaryaccordingtothemeaning
ofthetermdiatonicscale.Generallynotuniversallyanoteisunderstoodasdiatonicinacontextifit
belongstothediatonicscalethatisusedinthatcontextotherwiseitischromatic.

Inflection
Thetermchromaticinflection(alternativelyspelt
inflexion)isusedintwosenses:
Alterationofanotethatmakesit(ortheharmony
thatincludesit)chromaticratherthandiatonic.[40]
Melodicmovementbetweenadiatonicnoteanda
chromaticallyalteredvariant(fromCtoCinG
major,orviceversa,forexample).[41]

Progression
Thetermchromaticprogressionisusedinthreesenses:
Movementbetweenharmoniesthatarenotelementsofanycommondiatonicsystem(thatis,notof
thesamediatonicscale:movementfromDFAtoDFA,forexample).[42]
Thesameasthesecondsenseofchromaticinflection,above.[43]
Inmusicafictaandsimilarcontexts,amelodicfragmentthatincludesachromaticsemitone,and
thereforeincludesachromaticinflectioninthesecondsense,above.[44]
Thetermdiatonicprogressionisusedintwosenses:
Movementbetweenharmoniesthatbothbelongtoatleastoneshareddiatonicsystem(fromFACto
GBE,forexample,sincebothoccurinCmajor).[45]
Inmusicafictaandsimilarcontexts,amelodicfragmentthatdoesnotincludeachromaticsemitone,
eveniftwosemitonesoccurcontiguously,asinFGA.[44]

Modulation
Diatonicmodulationismodulationviaadiatonicprogression.[46]
Chromaticmodulationismodulationviaachromaticprogression,inthefirstsensegivenabove.[46]

Pentatonicscale
Oneverycommonkindofpentatonicscalethatdrawsitsnotesfromthediatonicscale(intheexclusive
sense,above)issometimescalledthediatonicpentatonicscale:CDEGA[C],orsomeother
modalarrangementofthosenotes.
Otherpentatonicscales(suchasthepelogscales)mayalsobeconstruedasreducedformsofadiatonic
scale,butarenotlabelleddiatonic.[47]

Modernextensions
Traditionally,andinallusesdiscussedabove,thetermdiatonichasbeenconfinedtothedomainofpitch,and
inafairlyrestrictedway.Exactlywhichscales(andevenwhichmodesofthosescales)shouldcountasdiatonic
isunsettled,asshownabove.Butthebroadselectionprincipleitselfisnotdisputed,atleastasatheoretical
convenience.

Extendedpitchselections

Theselectionofpitchclassescanbegeneralisedtoencompassformationofnontraditionalscalesfromthe
underlyingtwelvechromaticpitchclasses.[26]Oralargersetofunderlyingpitchclassesmaybeusedinstead.
Forexample,theoctavemaybedividedintovaryingnumbersofequallyspacedpitchclasses.Theusual
numberistwelve,givingtheconventionalsetusedinWesternmusic.ButPaulZweifel[48]usesagroup
theoreticapproachtoanalysedifferentsets,concludingespeciallythatasetoftwentydivisionsoftheoctave
isanotherviableoptionforretainingcertainpropertiesassociatedwiththeconventional"diatonic"selections
fromtwelvepitchclasses.

Rhythms
Itispossibletogeneralisethisselectionprincipleevenbeyondthedomainofpitch.Thediatonicideahas
beenappliedinanalysisofsometraditionalAfricanrhythms,forexample.Someselectionorotherismade
fromanunderlyingsupersetofmetricalbeats,toproducea"diatonic"rhythmic"scale"embeddedinan
underlyingmetrical"matrix".Someoftheseselectionsarediatonicinawaysimilartothetraditionaldiatonic
selectionsofpitchclasses(thatis,aselectionofsevenbeatsfromamatrixoftwelvebeatsperhapsevenin
groupingsthatmatchthetoneandsemitonegroupingsofdiatonicscales).Buttheprinciplemayalsobe
appliedwithevenmoregenerality(includingevenanyselectionfromamatrixofbeatsofanysize).[49]

Seealso
Notesandreferences
1. Benward&Saker(2003).Music:InTheoryandPractice,Vol.I,p.38.SeventhEdition.ISBN9780
072942620.
2. Leeuw,Tonde(2005).MusicoftheTwentiethCentury,p.93.ISBN9053567658.
3. Oftendiatonicandchromaticaretreatedasmutuallyexclusiveopposites,concerningcommonpractice
music.Thisarticledealsmainlywithcommonpracticemusic,andlatermusicthatsharesthesamecore
features(includingthesameparticularuseoftonality,harmonicandmelodicidioms,andtypesof
scales,chords,andintervals).Whereothermusicisdealtwith,thisisspeciallynoted.
4. Thisdefinitionencompassesthenaturalminorscale(andequivalentlythedescendingmelodicminor),
themajorscale,andtheecclesiasticalmodes.
5. ForinclusionoftheharmonicminorandtheascendingmelodicminorseethesectionModern
meaningsof"diatonicscale"inthisarticle.
6. TranslatingthetermusedbyGreektheorists:,gnosplural,gn.
7. Itisunclearwhetherthelyreinquestionwasitselfapresumedfourstringedinstrument
(""),assomehavesuggested(seePeterGorman,Pythagoras,aLife(London:
Routledge&K.Paul,1979),p.162:"ThefundamentalinstrumentofearlyGreekmusicwasthe
tetrachordorfourstringedlyrewhichwastunedinaccordancewiththemainconcordancesthe
tetrachordwasalsothefoundationofGreekharmonictheory").Thenumberofstringsonearlylyres
andsimilarinstrumentsisamatterofmuchspeculation(seeMartinLitchfieldWest,AncientGreek
music(OxfordandNewYork:OxfordUniversityPress,1994),especiallypp.6264).Manylater
instrumentshadsevenorperhapsmorestrings,andinthatcasethetetrachordmustbethoughtofas
basedonaselectionoffouradjacentstrings.
8. TheEnglishworddiatonicisultimatelyfromtheGreek(diatoniks),itselffrom
(ditonos),whichmaymean(asOEDclaims)"throughthetones"(taking,tnos,tomean
intervalofatone),orperhapsstretchedout(asrecordedinLiddellandScott'sGreekLexicon).See
alsoBarsky(Chromaticism,Barsky,Vladimir,Routledge,1996,p.2):"Therearetwopossiblewaysof
translatingtheGreekterm'diatonic':(1)'runningthroughtones',i.e.throughthewholetonesor(2)a
'tensed'tetrachordfilledupwiththewidestintervals".Thesecondinterpretationwouldbejustifiedby
considerationofthepitchesinthediatonictetrachord,whicharemoreequallydistributed("stretched
out")thaninthechromaticandenharmonictetrachords,andarealsotheresultoftighterstretchingof
thetwovariablestrings.Itisperhapsalsosounderonlinguisticmorphologicalgrounds.(Seealso

MerriamWebsterOnline.)Acompletelyseparateexplanationoftheoriginsofthetermdiatonic
appealstothegenerationofthediatonicscalefrom"twotones":"Becausethemusicalscaleisbased
entirelyonoctavesandfifths,thatis,twonotes,itiscalledthe'diatonicscale'"(Phillips,Stephen,
"Pythagoreanaspectsofmusic",inMusicandPsyche,Vol.3,availablealsoonline).Butthisignores
thefactthatitistheelementdithatmeans"two",nottheelementdia,whichhas"through"amongits
meanings(seeLiddellandScott).ThereisaGreekterm(dtonos),whichisappliedtoan
intervalequivalenttotwotones.ItyieldstheEnglishwordsditoneandditonic(seePythagorean
comma),butitisquitedistinctfrom.Yetanotherderivationassumesthesense"throughthe
tones"for,butinterpretstoneasmeaningindividualnoteofthescale:"Theworddiatonic
means'throughthetones'(i.e.,throughthetonesofthekey)"(Gehrkens,1914,seebelowseealsothe
Proutcitation,atthesamelocation).ThisisnotinaccordwithanyacceptedGreekmeaning,andin
Greektheoryitwouldfailtoexcludetheothertetrachords.Thefactthatitselfhasatleastfour
distinctmeaningsinGreektheoryofmusiccontributestotheuncertaintyoftheexactmeaningand
derivationof,evenamongancientwriters.(SeeSolonMichaelides,TheMusicofAncient
Greece:AnEncyclopaedia(LondonFaberandFaber,1978),pp.33540:"Tonos".mayreferto
apitch,aninterval,a"key"orregisterofthevoice,oramode.)Formoreinformation,especially
concerningthevariousexacttuningsofthediatonictetrachord,seeDiatonicgenus.
9. ChromaticisfromGreek(khrmatiks),itselffrom(khrma),whichmeans
complexion,hencecolouror,specificallyasamusicalterm,"amodificationofthesimplestmusic"
(LiddellandScott'sGreeklexicon).Formoreinformation,especiallyconcerningthevariousexact
tuningsofthechromatictetrachord,seeChromaticgenus.
10. Occasionally,asintheRollinexcerptshowninthissection,speltinharmonicbutinOEDthisisonly
givenasadistinctwordwithadistinctetymology("Notharmonicnotinharmonydissonant,...").The
motivationandsourcesoftheGreekterm(enarmoniks)arelittleunderstood.Butthe
tworootsare(en:"in")and(harmona:"goodplacementofparts","harmony","ascale,
mode,or[inonesenseseenotesabove]").Soinsomewaythetermsuggestsharmoniousnessor
gooddispositionofparts,butnotinthemodernsenseofharmony,whichhastodowithsimultaneous
sounds.(SeeSolonMichaelides,TheMusicofAncientGreece:AnEncyclopaedia(London:Faberand
Faber,1978)LiddellandScottetc.)Formoreinformation,especiallyconcerningthevariousexact
tuningsoftheenharmonictetrachord,seeEnharmonicgenus.
11. Inpracticetetrachord(tetrkhordon)alsomeanttheinstrumentitself.Anditcouldalso
meantheintervalofaperfectfourthbetweenthepitchesofthefixedtopandbottomstringstherefore
thevarioustuningswerecalleddivisionsofthetetrachord(seeOED,"Tetrachord").
12. ForgeneralandintroductorycoverageofGreektheoryseeTuningandTemperament,AHistorical
Survey,Barbour,J.Murray,2004(reprintof1972edition),ISBN0486434060.Thesemeaningsin
Greektheoryaretheultimatesourceofthemeaningsofthewordstoday,butthroughagreatdealof
modificationandconfusioninMedievaltimes.ItwouldthereforebeamistaketoconsidertheGreek
systemandthesubsequentWesternsystems(Medieval,Renaissance,orcontemporary)asclosely
similarsimplybecauseoftheuseofsimilarterms:"...thecategoriesofthediatonic,chromaticand
enharmonicgeneradevelopedwithintheframeworkofmonodicmusicalcultureandhavelittlein
commonwiththecorrespondingcategoriesofmodernmusictheory"(Chromaticism,Barsky,Vladimir,
Routledge,1996,p.2).TherewereseveralGreeksystems,inanycase.Whatispresentedhereis
merelyasimplificationoftheorythatspansseveralcenturies,fromthetimeofPythagoras(c.580BCE
c.500BCE),throughAristoxenus(c.362BCEafter320BCE),tosuchlatetheoristsasAlypiusof
Alexandria(fl.360CE).Specifically,therearemoreversionsofeachofthethreetetrachordsthanare
describedhere.
13. Detailsofthepracticeforcertainperiods:"Thedevicethatwasboththesimplestandthemoststable
anddurablewasthatknownascoloratio.Inprinciple,anynoteorgroupofnotessubjectedto
colorationorblackeningwasreducedtotwothirdsofthevaluethatitwouldhaveenjoyedinits
pristinestate.Inrespectofanynoteinmensuralnotationthatwasequalindurationtotwoofthatnext
smallerinvalue,thecolorationofthreeinsuccessioncausedeachtoundergoreductiontotwothirds

ofitserstwhilevalue,socreatingatriplet[....]Inthecaseofanynotethatwasequalindurationto
threeofthatnextsmaller,thecolorationofthreetogetherlikewiseeffectedaproportionalreduction
inthevalueofeachtotwothirds,soreducingperfectvaluetoimperfectandcommonlycreatingthe
effectcalledhemiola[....]Onoccasionscolourednotescouldappearsinglytodenoteimperfectvalue,
especiallytoinhibitunwantedperfectionandalteration,"RogerBowers,"Proportionalnotation",2.
Coloration,NewGroveDictionaryofMusicandMusicians,secondedition,editedbyStanleySadie
andJohnTyrrell(London:MacmillanPublishers,2001).
14. Parrish,Carl,TheNotationofMedievalMusic,Pendragon,NewYork,1978,pp.147ff.
15. HarvardDictionaryofMusic,2nded.,"Chromatic".
16. Grout,DonaldJ,andPalisca,Claude,AHistoryofWesternMusic,6thed.,Norton,NewYork,2001,
pp.188190.
17. "TherootoftheItaliantermisthatof'colour',anditisprobablyrelatedthroughitsuseofdiminution
(thelittlenotesthat'rush'tothenextlongnote,asBernhardwrites)tothemensuralpracticeof
coloration"(NewGrove,"Coloratura").
18. RenderedbymanyasCarminachromatico,thoughthisisincorrectLatinthetitleisgivenasCarmina
chromatica(whichispluralofLatincarmenchromaticum)inNewGroveOnline.Theentirepassageis
relevanttopresentpointsinthisarticle:
NewGroveOnline,"MusicaFicta",I,ii
19. Groutetal.,2001,p.188.
20. Sometheoristsderivesuchascalefromacertainseriesofpitchesrisingbysixperfectfifths:FCG
DAEB.Thesepitchesarethenrearrangedbytranspositiontoasingleoctavescale:CDEFG
AB[C](thestandardCmajorscale,withtheintervalstructureTTSTTT[S]).Afewtheorists
calltheoriginaluntransposedseriesitselfa"scale".PercyGoetschiuscallsthatseriesthe"natural
scale"(TheTheoryandPracticeofToneRelations,Schirmer,1931edition,p.3seefurthercitation
below).
21. Goetschius,ascitedbelow,acceptsonlythemajorasdiatonic.
22. Thefirst"exclusive"usageseemstobegaininggreatercurrency.Certainlyitisbecomingcloseto
standardinacademicwriting,ascanbeseenbyqueryingonlinearchives(suchasJSTOR)forrecent
usesofthetermdiatonic.Equallycertainly,thesecond"inclusive"meaningisstillstronglyrepresented
innonacademicwriting(ascanbeseenbyonlinesearchesofpracticallyorientedmusictextsat,for
example,Amazon.com).Overall,considerableconfusionremainsontheevidencepresentedinthelist
ofsources,thereareverymanysourcesinthethirdcategory:Diatonicusedvaguely,inconsistently,or
anomalously.
23. Averyclearstatementofthe"exclusive"stanceisgivenintheexcerptfrom"Theleadingtoneindirect
chromaticism:fromRenaissancetoBaroque",Clough,John,1957,below.Theexcerptacknowledges
andanalysesthedifficultieswithlogic,naming,andtaxonomyinthatstance.
24. Afewexcludeonlytheharmonicminorasdiatonic,andaccepttheascendingmelodic,becauseit
comprisesonlytonesandsemitones,orbecauseithasallofitspartsanalysableastetrachordsinsome
wayorother.
25. However,beyondanalysisofcommonpracticemusic,eventhesewritersdonottypicallyconsidernon
standardusesofsomefamiliarscalestobe"diatonic".Forexample,unusualmodesofthemelodicor
harmonicminorscale,suchasusedinearlyworksbyStravinsky,arealmostneverdescribedas
"diatonic".
26. Gould,M.(2000)."BalzanoandZweifel:AnotherLookatGeneralizedDiatonicScales".Perspectives

ofNewMusic38(2):88105.doi:10.2307/833660.JSTOR833660.Anexplicitexampleofsuchan
extendedgeneraluseofdiatonicscaleandrelatedterms:
Throughoutthispaper,Iusetheterms"diatonic,""pentatonic"and"chromatic"intheir
genericsenses,asfollows:
1. A"diatonic"scaleisascaleformedfromtwointervalsofdifferentsizes,suchthat
groupsofseveraladjacentinstancesofthelargerintervalareseparatedbysingle
instancesofthesmallerinterval.
2. A"pentatonic"scaleisascaleformedfromtwointervalsofdifferentsizes,such
thatgroupsofseveraladjacentinstancesofthesmallerintervalareseparatedby
singleinstancesofthelargerinterval.Thereforeageneric"pentatonic"cancontain
morethanfivetones.
3. "Chromatic"referstotheintervalformedbetweenadjacentpitchclassesofany
equaltemperedscale.
Seealso#Extendedpitchselections,inthisarticle.SeealsoanexceptionalusagebyPersichetti,ina
noteto#Diatonic_pentatonic_scale,below.
27. Itisnotusualforchromaticscaletobeusedinanydifferentsensefromthis.Arareexceptionisfound
inElementsofMusicalComposition,Crotch,William,1830.(Seethequotationfromthistext,below.
Seealsoextensiveanalysisintheexcerptfrom"Theleadingtoneindirectchromaticism:from
RenaissancetoBaroque",Clough,John,1957,inthesamesubsectionbelow.)Outsideofmusic
altogether,chromaticscalemayrefertoVonLuschan'schromaticscale.
28. Thereareseveralotherunderstandingsofthetermsdiatonicintervalandchromaticinterval.There
aretheoristswhodefineallaugmentedanddiminishedintervalsaschromatic,eventhoughsomeof
theseoccurinscalesthateveryoneacceptsasdiatonic.(Forexample,thediminishedfifthformedbyB
andF,whichoccursinCmajor.)Thereareevensomewriterswhodefineallminorintervalsas
chromatic(Goetschius,Percy,TheTheoryandPracticeofToneRelations,1931,p.6Goetschius
assessesallintervalsasifthelowernotewerethetonic,andsinceforhimonlythemajorscaleis
diatonic,onlytheintervalsformedabovethetonicinthemajorarediatonicseealso,forexample,
Harrison,Mark,ContemporaryMusicTheoryLevelTwo,1999,p.5).Sometheoriststakethe
diatonicintervaltobesimplyameasureofthenumberof"scaledegrees"spannedbytwonotes(so
thatFEandFErepresentthesame"diatonicinterval":aseventh)andtheyusetheterm
chromaticintervaltomeanthenumberofsemitonesspannedbyanytwopitches(FandEare"ata
chromaticintervalofninesemitones").Sometheoristsusethetermdiatonicintervaltomean"an
intervalnamedontheassumptionofthediatonicsystemofWesternmusic"(sothatallperfect,major,
minor,augmented,diminishedintervalsare"diatonicintervals").Itisnotclearwhatchromatic
intervalwouldmean,ifanything,inparallelwiththisusagefordiatonic.Sometheoristsusechromatic
intervaltomeansimplysemitone,asforexampleinthearticleChromaticfourth.SeealsoWilliams,
PeterF.,TheChromaticFourthduringFourCenturiesofMusic,OUP,1997.Somethingclosetothis
usagemaybefoundinprint.Forexample,thetermchromatically,asusedin:"Thetrillrises
chromaticallybystepabovethisharmonicuncertainty,formingachromaticfourth,..."(RobinStowel,
Beethoven:ViolinConcerto(CambridgeMusicHandbooks),CambridgeandNewYork:Cambridge
UniversityPress,2005,p.66).Thetermasusedinthephrasechromaticfourthitselfperhapsmeans
justwhatitmeansinchromaticscale,buthereappliedtoamelodicintervalratherthanascale.
29. SeeforexampleWilliamLovelock,TheRudimentsofMusic,1971.
30. SeeforexamplethecitationfromGroveMusicOnline("Diatonic"),below.
31. Helmholtz,Hermann,trans.AlexanderEllis,OntheSensationsofTone,Dover,NewYork,1954,pp.
433435and546548.Thetwonotesofadiatonicsemitonehavedifferentletternamesthoseofa
chromaticsemitonehavethesamelettername.

32. Kostka,Stefan,andPayne,Dorothy,TonalHarmony,McGrawHill,5thedition,2003,pp.6061.
33. "Becauseofthevariabilityof[scaledegrees]6and7,therearesixteenpossiblediatonicseventhchords
inminor...[OnelineinatableheadedCommondiatonicseventhchordsinminor:]
__7_____vii7__"(Tonalharmony,Kostka,StefanandPayne,Dorothy,McGrawHill,3rdedition
1995,pp.6465).
34. ThisisbecausethethirdofthetriaddoesnotbelongtothenaturalminorscaleorAeolianmodeofC
minor(C,D,E,F,G,A,B).Thishighlyrestrictiveinterpretationiseffectivelyequivalenttotheidea
thatdiatonictriadsarethosedrawnfromthenotesofthemajorscalealone,asthissourcerather
roughlyputsit:"Diatonicchordsarewhollycontainedwithinamajorscale"(Harrison,Mark,
ContemporaryMusicTheoryLevelTwo,1999,p.7).
35. Oftenthecontentof"diatonicharmony"inthissensewillincludesuchharmonicresourcesas
diminishedseventhsontheleadingnotepossiblyeveninmajorkeysevenifthetextusesa
classificationforchordsthatshouldexcludethoseresources.
36. Someofthesearechords"borrowed"fromakeyotherthantheprevailingkeyofapiecebutsomeare
not:theyarederivableonlybychromaticalteration.
37. "Diatonicharmoniesarethosebuiltonthesevendegreesofwhatevermajororminordiatonicscaleis
beingused.Chromaticharmoniesarethosebuilton,orusing,thefivenondiatonicdegreesofthe
scale"MusicforOurTime,Winter,Robert,Wadsworth,1992,p.35.(Strictly,thereisanuncertaintyto
benotedhere,involvingharmoniesthatwouldbediatonicbecausetheyarebuiltonunaltereddegrees
ofadiatonicscale,butchromaticbecausetheyincludeanondiatonicnote:DFAinCmajor,for
example.Buttheintentionisclearlythatsuchharmoniesarechromatic.)
38. Tischler,H.(1958)."Re:ChromaticMediants:AFacetofMusicalRomanticism".JournalofMusic
Theory2(1):9497.doi:10.2307/842933.JSTOR842933.
39. Thismaybeheardat11:44onhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tDPK1dQM
40. "...mostchromaticharmonycanbereadasdiatonicharmonywithchromaticinflection",aview
attributedtoSimonSechterinNewGrove,"Analysis",II:History3.
41. "Achromaticprogressionisonebetweenharmonieshavingnodiatonicrelationship,harmonieswhich
donotcoexistinanysinglediatonicsystemofkeyandmode.Forthispurpose,theharmonicformof
theminorscaleisconsideredthetonalharmonicbasisofitsdiatonicsystem.Ausualcharacteristicof
thechromaticprogressionischromaticinflectionthechangeofoneormorenotesfromoneform
(sharp,natural,orflat)toanother"WallaceBerry,ForminMusic(PrenticeHall,1966),pp.109110,
note5.
42. WallaceBerry,ForminMusic(PrenticeHall,1966),pp.109110,note5.
43. "In[anexample]thechangefrommajortominorissupportedbythechromaticprogression...inthe
bass"StructuralFunctionsofHarmony,Schoenberg,Arnold,Faber&Faber,1983,p.54.
44. SeeNewGroveOnline,"MusicaFicta",I,ii,citedearlier.
45. SeeForminMusic,Berry,Wallace,PrenticeHall,1966,pp.109110,note5.Theauthorevenincludes
movementbetweentonicandNeapolitansixthharmonies(inbothmajorandminor),becausethere
existssomediatonicsysteminwhichbothharmoniesoccur.WithCmajor,forexample,bothoccurin
thesubdominantminor,Fminor.
46. Berry,ForminMusic,p.125,note2.
47. TwentiethCenturyHarmony,Persichetti,Vincent,Norton,1961,pp.5051.Persichettialsomakesan
exceptionaluseofthetermdiatonicscaleinthiscontext:"Diatonicscalesoffivetonesare
harmonicallylimited...".
48. Zweifel,P.F.(1996)."GeneralizedDiatonicandPentatonicScales:AGroupTheoreticApproach".

PerspectivesofNewMusic34(1):140161.doi:10.2307/833490.JSTOR833490.
49. Rahn,J.(1996)."TurningtheAnalysisaround:AfricaDerivedRhythmsandEuropeDerivedMusic
Theory".BlackMusicResearchJournal16(1):7189.doi:10.2307/779378.JSTOR779378.

Bibliography
Diatonic
Publishedsourcesfor"diatonic",inCommonPracticemusic.
Thesourcescitedbelowaresortedintothreegroups,dependingonwhattheysayabouttheterm
diatonic:
thosethatexplicitlyorimplicitlyexcludetheharmonicandmelodicminors,alongwiththe
consequencesforintervals,etc.
thosethatincludetheharmonicandmelodicminors,withconsequencesand
thosethatareambiguous,inconsistent,oranomalous.
Incitedtextbelow,relevantportionshavebeenhighlightedinbold,whichhasbeenaddedfor
emphasis.

Exclusive
Excludingharmonicandmelodicminorscales:
Scale...3.DiatonicScale:...Thesixthandseventhdegreesoftheminorscaleareunstableand
resultintwoforms,neitherofthemdiatonic:theharmonicminor,withthe
characteristicintervalofanaugmented2ndandthemelodicminor...
GroveMusicOnline(seep.295intheprintversion)
Diatonic(fromGk.diatonos:'proceedingbywholetones').
Basedonorderivablefromanoctaveofsevennotesinaparticularconfiguration,asopposedto
chromaticandotherformsofscale.Asevennotescaleissaidtobediatonicwhenits
octavespanisfilledbyfivetonesandtwosemitones,withthesemitonesmaximally
separated,forexamplethemajorscale(TTSTTTS).Thenaturalminorscaleand
thechurchmodes(seeMode)arealsodiatonic.
[Butseethesamesource,GroveMusicOnline,belowalso.]
TheHarvardDictionaryofMusic4thedition,p.239
Diatonic:(1)Ascalewithsevenpitches(heptatonic)thatareadjacenttooneanotheronthe
circleoffifthsthus,oneinwhicheachletternamerepresentsonlyasinglepitchandwhichis
madeupofwholetonesandsemitonesarrangedinthepatternembodiedinthe
whitekeysofthepianokeyboardhence,anymajororpureminorscaleandany
churchmodeasdistinctfromthechromaticscale.
ElementsofMusicalComposition,Crotch,William,1830[reproduced1991,BoethiusPress,
Aberystwyth,Wales],pp.2122
Inmodernmusic,theseventhnoteSiisoftenmadeonesemitonehigher,andthenthescaleof
theminorkeybecomeschromatic....Thesixthandseventhnotesarebothoccasionallyaltered
atthesametime,andthenalsothescaleischromatic....Thisistheusualmethodofascending
theminorkey,butindescending,theancientdiatonicscaleiscommonlyused.
[Arareinstanceofclassifyingtheharmonicminorandtheascendingmelodicminoras

chromatic.]
TheTheoryandPracticeofToneRelations,Goetschius,Percy,Schirmer,1931edition
[p.4]Thisdiatonicscalecomprisesthetonesofthemajormode,sodesignatedfor
reasonsgivenlater.Uponexaminationitisfoundthatthecontiguousintervalsofthediatonic
scale,unlikethoseofthenaturalscale[Goetschius'stermforaseriesofpitchesrisingby
fifths,startingfromFandendingandB,withCidentifiedasthe"keynote"seep.3],arenot
uniform,butdifferasfollows:
[AdiagramisshownofaCmajorscalewithslurspointingoutthesemitonesbetweenscalesteps
3and4,and7and8.]
[p.33]Thelineofresearchandargument[above]provesthat,ofthetwomodesrecognizedand
employedinmodernmusic,thatoneknownasmajor(becauseitsprin.triadshaveamajorthird)
isthenaturalone.
Theother,i.e.,theminormode,isconsequentlytoberegardedasanunnaturalorartificial
mode,andisaccountedforasanarbitrarymodificationofthenaturalmajormode.
...
Thescalethusobtainediscalledtheharmonicminormode.Itistheonlytheoreticallyaccurate
minorscale,[....]
[Goetschius'sstanceisunusualinnotrecognisinganyscaleotherthanthemajorasdiatoniche
doesnotmentionthesocalled"natural"minorscaleasanentityinitsownright,butconsiders
theharmonicminorasthebasicminorform,deriveddirectlyfromthemajorbyalterationofthe
thirdandsixthscalesteps.Later(pp.104106)hediscussesthemelodicminorscale,andthe
factthatthethirdscalestepis"theonlydistinctivetonebetweenthemajorformandthevarious
minorforms"(p.105).]
Clough,J.(1957)."TheLeadingToneinDirectChromaticism:FromRenaissancetoBaroque".Journal
ofMusicTheory1(1):221.JSTOR843089.
Chromaticismbeingessentiallytheantonymn[sic]ofthemorerestrictivetermdiatonicism,its
precisedefinitionrestsonaseriesofdefinitionsbeginningwiththeconceptdiatonicsystem:
diatonicsystem
asuccessionofwholestepsandhalfsteps,ofindefinitecompass,inwhichthehalfsteps
areseparatedalternatelybytwowholestepsandthreewholesteps
diatonic
consistingentirelyoftonesfromasinglediatonicsystem
diatonicism
theuseofdiatoniccollectionsoftones
chromatic
notconsistingentirelyoftonesfromasinglediatonicsystem
chromaticism
theuseofchromaticcollectionsoftones
[...During]thepasttwohundredandfiftyyears,whenextensivedeviationfromitandabandonmentof
ithavebecomethenormofpractice,the[diatonic]systemhaspersistedasanimportantframeworkof
tonalorganization.Withoutdoubt,thissimplesuccessionofwholeandhalfstepsisamongthemost

deeplyrootedfactsofourmusicalculture.
Inviewofitshistoricalpreeminencealone,thesystemdeservestoberepresentedinitspureformby
suchabasictheoreticalconceptasdiatonic.Modernabstractionssuchastheharmonicminor
andsocalled"ascendingmelodic"minorscales,whicharesometimesreferredtoas
diatonic,cannotbereconciledwiththeabovedefinitionswithoutthetermdiatonic
becominganunwieldyandtheoreticallyuselesscatchall.[Referencetofootnote.]
[Footnote:]1.Inthisconnectionmuchconfusionderivesfromtheacceptedmeaningofthe
expressionchromaticscale.(Clearly,theharmonicminorscaleisnotthechromaticscaleitis
thereforediatonic,orsothereasoninggoes.)Ifthepresentlyacceptedmeaningofchromatic
scaleistoberetained,wemustcontentourselveswiththeparadoxthattheharmonicminorand
"ascendingmelodic"minorscales,whileinherentlychromatic,arenot"chromaticscales".
Hereitmightbestatedalsothat,whileIamentirelyconvincedofthesoundnessoftheabove
definitions,thereadermustrealizethatanydoubtshemayentertainregardingthemcanbein
nowaydamagingtotheprincipletobederivedbytheiruse.Solongastheconceptof
chromaticism,asdefinedabove,isclearlyunderstood,Ihavenoessentialobjectiontothe
reader'ssubstitutinghisowntermforitthroughoutthearticle.Universallyaccepted
nomenclatureisadesirableobjective,but,unfortunately,itsometimeslagsbehindtheoretical
thought.
[Araredetailedarticulationofthe"exclusive"stance,exceptionalforitsmentioningandanalysingthe
alternative"inclusive"stance.]

Inclusive
Includingharmonicandmelodicminorscales:
DiatonicandChromatic:...Thediatonicscalesarethemajorandminor,madeupoftones
andsemitones(inthecaseoftheharmonicminorscale,alsoanaugmentedsecond),
asdistinctfromthechromatic...
OxfordConciseDictionaryofMusic(Online[1]currentprinteditionisthesame)
FortheolderEuropeanscales,usedintheChurch'splainsongandinfolksong,seemodes.Two
oftheseancientmodesremainedinusebycomposers,whentheother10werealmost
abandoned,andtheseareourmajorandminorscalesthelatter,however,subject
tosomevariationsinits6thand7thnotes.TakingCasthekeynotethesescales(which
haveprovidedthechiefmaterialofmusicfromaboutAD1600to1900)runasfollows:[thanthe
firstfigureinthearticle,showingthemajorscaleonC,thentheharmonicminoronC,thenthe
ascendinganddescendingmelodiconCtextcontinuesimmediatelywith:]Themajorand
minorscalesarespokenofasDIATONICSCALES,asdistinctfromascaleusing
nothingbutsemitones,whichistheCHROMATICSCALE,...
MusicNotationandTerminology,Gehrkens,KarlWilson,Barnes,NY,1914
[p.79]Therearethreegeneralclassesofscalesextantatthepresenttime,viz.:(1)Diatonic(2)
Chromatic(3)Wholetone.
[p.80]Theworddiatonicmeans"throughthetones"(i.e.,throughthetonesofthekey),andis
appliedtobothmajorandminorscalesofourmoderntonalitysystem.Ingeneraladiatonic
scalemaybedefinedasonewhichproceedsbyhalfstepsandwholesteps.There
is,however,oneexceptiontothisprinciple,viz.,intheprogressionsixtoseven
intheharmonicminorscale,whichisofcourseastepandahalf.
TonalHarmonyinConceptandPractice,Forte,Allen,NY,Holt,Rinehart,andWinston,3rd

edition,1979,p.14
Thediatonicminorscalethereforehasthreeforms:natural,melodic,andharmonic.
TheNewPenguinDictionaryofMusic,Jacobs,Arthur,Penguin,4thedition(1977)reprinted
withrevisions(1986)
[p.108]diatonic,pertainingtoagivenmajororminorkey(oppositeofCHROMATIC)so
diatonicscale,anyoneofthemajororminorscales...
[pp.246247]major,minor,...Theminorscaleisdividedfortheoreticalpurposesintothree
types,[followedbyanequaltreatmentofnatural,melodic,andharmonicminorscales,with
figuresshowingeachform]
Harmony:ItsTheoryandPractice,Prout,Ebenezer,Augener,16thedition1901,ChapterI,p.3
8.ASCALEisasuccessionofnotesarrangedaccordingtosomeregularplan.Manydifferent
kindsofscaleshavebeenusedatvarioustimesandinvariouspartsoftheworldinmodern
Europeanmusiconlytwoareemployed,whicharecalledthediatonicandthe
chromaticscale.
9.Theword"diatonic"hasalreadybeenexplainedin6asmeaning"throughthedegrees".A
diatonicscaleisasuccessionofnotesinwhichthereisonenote,neithermorenorless,oneach
degreeofthestaffthatistosay,oneachlineandspace.[ReferencetoChapterII,p.17,where
thesourcesofthemodernscalesintheoldsystemofmodesareexplained.]Therearetwo
varietiesofthediatonicscale,knownasthemajor(orgreater)andminor(or
less)scalefromthenatureoftheintervalbetweenthefirstandthirdnotesofthescale.[Two
figures,showinganascendingoctaveoftheCmajorscale(Ex.4)andoftheCharmonicminor
scale(Ex.5).]Otherformsoftheminorscalefrequentlytobemetwithwillbeexplainedlater.
[ThemelodicisintroducedandexplainedinChapterVII,pp.8083,206210.]
MusicHistoryandTheory,Clendinnen,William,Doubleday,1965,p.23
Westernmusicmadefromabout16801880madeuseofasystemofdiatonicscales,
comprisingcertainarrangementsofwholetones(T)andsemitones(S)suchasthemajor...the
melodicminor...andtheharmonicminor(TSTTSTS).
Harmony,Piston,Walter,DeVoto,Mark,Norton,5thedition,1987,pp.45
Thetonesthatformtheintervalaredrawnfromscales.Themostfamiliarofthesearethetwo
diatonicscalesofsevennoteseach,calledthemajorscaleandtheminorscale.
Tonalmusic,whichincludesmostmusicwrittenbetween1700and1900,isbased
ondiatonicscales.
Thedifferencebetweenthemajorandminorscalesisfoundinthedistributionofwholesteps
andhalfstepsaboveagivenstartingpoint.[...CmajorscaleasonecaseExample12,showing
thescaleanditsstepsandhalfsteps.]
Therearethreedifferentformsoftheminorscale.Thenaturalminorscalehasthree
tonesthataredifferentfromcorrespondingtonesinthemajorscale.Someofthesesametones
arealsofoundintheotherforms,asshownhere.[Example13,showingfiveformsofscaleson
C:major,naturalminor,harmonicminor,melodicminorascending(allshownascending)and
melodicminordescending.]
Allofthepossiblepitchesincommonuse,consideredtogether,constitutethechromaticscale.
[Example14,showinganascendinganddescendingchromaticscaleexplanationofthe
chromaticscale....]
Anyparticulardiatonicscaleisasevennotesubsetofthetwelvenotechromaticscale.

Other
Vague,inconsistent,oranomaloususe:
GroveMusicOnline
Diatonic(samearticleascitedabove)...Anintervalissaidtobediatonicifitisavailable
withinadiatonicscale.Thefollowingintervalsandtheircompoundsarealldiatonic:minor
2nd(S),major2nd(T),minor3rd(TS),major3rd(TT),perfect4th(TTS),perfect5th(TTST),
minor6th(STTTS),major6th(TTSTT),minor7th(TSTTTS),major7th(TTSTTT)andthe
octaveitself.Thetritone,intheorydiatonicaccordingtothisdefinition,has
traditionallybeenregardedasthealterationofaperfectinterval,andhence
chromaticitmaybeeitherasemitonemorethanaperfect4th(augmented4th:TTT)ora
semitonelessthanaperfect5th(diminished5th:STTS).
GroveMusicOnline
Minor(i).(1)Thenamegiventoadiatonicscalewhoseoctave,initsnaturalform,is
builtofthefollowingascendingsequence,inwhichTstandsforatoneandSforasemitone:T
STTSTT).Thenotechosentobeginthesequence,calledthekeynote,alsobecomespart
ofthenameofthescaleaDminorscale,forinstance,consistsofthenotesDEFGAB
CD.Inpractice,however,somenotesofthescalearealteredchromaticallytohelpimparta
senseofdirectiontothemelody.Theharmonicminorscalehasaraisedseventh,in
accordancewiththeneedforamajortriadonthefifthstep(theDominantchord).Themelodic
minorscalehasaraisedsixthandaraisedseventhwhenitisascending,borrowingtheleading
notefunctionoftheseventhstepfromthemajorscaleindescending,though,itisthesameas
thenaturalminorscale.
TheCambridgeHistoryofWesternMusicTheory,ed.ThomasChristensen,2004
[Recordsdifferentusagesbydifferentmajortheorists.]
EncyclopaediaBritannica(Online:consultedinApril20072005CDROMversionisthesame.)
Diatonic....The"harmonic"minorthatresultsis,strictlyspeaking,nolongeradiatonic
scale,unlike"melodic"minor,whichsimplyborrowsitsuppertetrachordfromtheparallel
major,i.e.,themajorscalebeginningandendingonthesamepitch.
[Thisacceptstheascendingmelodicasdiatonic.]
EncyclopaediaBritannica(Online:consultedinDecember2007.)
Diatonic.[I]nmusic,anystepwisearrangementoftheseven"natural"pitches(scale
degrees)forminganoctavewithoutalteringtheestablishedpatternofakeyor
modeinparticular,themajorandnaturalminorscales.Somescales,including
pentatonicandwholetonescales,arenotdiatonicbecausetheydonotincludetheseven
degrees....Inthenaturalminorscale,thehalfstepsoccuratIIIIIandVVI.Giventhecrucial
importanceofthesocalledleadingtone(theseventhdegreeofthemajorscale)indiatonic
harmony,however,thenaturalminorscaleregularlybecomessubjecttochromatic
alteration(inthiscase,theraisingbyahalfstep)ofitsseventhdegree(theharmonicminor
form)andoftenthesixthdegreeaswell(themelodicminorformofthescale,usedinan
ascendingmelody).Theharmonicminoris,strictlyspeaking,notreallyascaleitis
usednormallynotmelodicallybutasasourcesetforconstructingharmony.Theupper
tetrachordoftheascendingmelodicminorscaleisidenticalwiththatofthemajorscale....The
diatonicscale,asamodel,iscontrastedwiththechromaticscaleof12pitches,
correspondingtothewhiteandblacknotesofthepianokeyboardconsideredtogether....An
accidentalsigninfrontofanotenormallysignifieseitherthatthetoneisnotatedasthe
sixthorseventhdegreeoftheminorscale,orthatthetoneisachromatictone(it

doesnotbelongtotheparticulardiatonicscalebeingusedintheharmonyofthe
moment).
[Thestatusoftheharmonicandmelodicminorasdiatonicisleftuncertain.Treatmentofthe
alterationofthesixthandseventhdegreesinminorisselfcontradictory:atfirstthosedegrees
are"subjecttochromaticalteration"butlatersuchalterationsarementionedseparatelyfrom
anddistinguishedfrom"chromatictones".]
ElementaryTrainingforMusiciansHindemith,Paul,2ndedition,1949,p.58
...(diatonic=consistingofwholeandhalftonesteps)...
[Thisdefinitionfailstoexcludetheascendingmelodicasdiatonic,andfailstoincludethe
harmonicminor.]
diatonic(fromGk.diatonikos,'atintervalsofatone).Inthemajorminortonalsystem,a
diatonicfeaturewhichmaybeasinglenote,aninterval,achord,oranextendedpassageof
musicisonethatusesexclusivelynotesbelongingtoonekey.Inpractice,itcanbe
saidtouseaparticularscale,butonlywiththeprovisothatthealternative
submediantsandleadingnotesofharmonicandmelodicminorallowuptonine
diatonicnotes
Comparedwiththesevenavailableinamajorscale.Theexactintentionwithregardto
classificationoftheharmonicandmelodicminorscalesisunclear,andlikelytobeinconsistent.
CollinsPocketDictionaryofMusic,Collins,1982[abridgedfromCollinsEncyclopediaofMusic,
eds.Westrup,J,andHarrison,F,revisededition1976]
Diatonic...Inminorkeys[the]sharpenedsixthandseventhareinsuchcommonuse,though
notstrictlyproperto[the]key,thattheyarealsoregardedasdiatonic...
Scale...Moderndiatonicscaleas2modes:major...andminor(TSTTSTT).Latteronlyhas
theoreticalexistenceinpracticehas2forms,bothofwhichinvolveelementofchromaticismin
treatmentofleadingnote:[formsofharmonicandascendinganddescendingmelodicaregiven].
[Seenotefortheentryimmediatelyabove.]
TheoryofHarmonySchoenberg,Arnold,(translationof3rdedition,1922),1983,p.32
Inthesevenchordsthatwebuildontheseventonesofthemajorscaleweusenotonesother
thanthesesameseventhetonesofthescale,thediatonictones.
[Harmonicandmelodicminorscalesaren'tnecessarilyexcluded.Theintentionisunclear.]
ADictionaryofMusicalTermsBaker,Theodore,1923edition
Diatonic:(Inmodernusage)By,through,with,within,orembracingthetonesofthestandard
majororminorscale.
[Thephrase"standardmajororminorscale"isambiguous,andcouldincludeallformsofthe
minor.]
MusicforOurTime,Winter,Robert,Wadsworth,1992,pp.2829
...Westernmusicsettledontwodiatonicpatterns,knowntodayasthemajorscaleandthe
minorscale....Theminorscaleresultsfromflatting(loweringbyhalfastep)thethirdandsixth
degreesofthemajorscale....itisfrequentlysmoothedoutby[alterationstothesixthand
seventhdegree....]thisformoftheminorscaleiscalledthemelodicminorscale.
[Thepreciseinterpretationofpatternsintwodiatonicpatternsisopentodispute.Onone

reading,thesepatternsaremoregeneralandflexible,andtheminorpatternremainsdiatonic
whenitisvariedastheauthordescribes.Bythatreading,thedefinitionofdiatonicscaleisnot
anomalous,butincludesallstandardformsoftheminorscale.Onanotherreading,patternis
takentomean"exactconfigurationoftonesandsemitones"bythatreading,thedefinitionis
barelycoherent(sinceascaleconstrainedtoconformtosuchastrictconfigurationcannotbe
"smoothedout"bythealterationsmentionedandyetretainthepatternthattheauthor
identifiesas"theminorscale").Thissecondreadingentailsthatamongtheminorsonlythe
harmonicformis"diatonic".]