Meaning of SCALE in English


in music, any graduated sequence of notes, tones, or intervals dividing what is called an octave. The specific selection of different tones in any piece of music generally reveals a pattern of relationships among its pitches that can be expressed as a series of fixed distances (intervals) from one pitch to another within the span of an octave. The interval relationships among pitches of a scale are its essential feature, and a particular pattern of intervals defines every scale. Other aspects of pitch usage in music, such as range (distance from the highest pitch used to the lowest), emphasis placed on certain pitches, or the simultaneous (harmonic) and successive (melodic) occurrence of tones, do not alter the identity of the scale, although they may be essential in describing its function. Although the number of different scales that can be formulated is theoretically nearly infinite, particular scales tend to become conventionalized within any given culture or musical tradition. The scale of a single piece of music may therefore be characteristic of the tone system of a whole culture. In general, the simplest scales can be found in very old music and in the music of nonliterate cultures, while the most complex scales occur in the world's most advanced cultures. in zoology, small plate that forms part of the skin of certain animals. Scales provide protection from the environment and from predators. Fish scales are formed of bone from the deeper, or dermal, skin layer. The elasmobranchs (e.g., sharks) have placoid scales; these are bony, spiny projections with an enamel-like covering. Ganoid scales, which are found on such fishes as gars and the bowfin, are similar to placoid scales but are covered with a peculiar enamel-like substance called ganoin. It is thought that true teeth developed from placoid scales. The advanced fish have either cycloid scales (e.g., carp) or ctenoid scales (e.g., perch; sunfish). These are typical overlapping fish scales; cycloid scales are large, thin, and round or oval in shape, and exhibit growth rings along their free edges. Ctenoid scales resemble cycloid scales but have comblike teeth on their overlapping edge. Horny scutes, or corneoscutes, derived from the upper, or epidermal, skin layer, appear in reptiles and on the legs of birds; in some lizards, bony dermal scales underlie these. Modified epidermal tissue, mostly consisting of keratin, forms the scaly surface found on some mammals (e.g., rats; pangolins). The term scale is also applied to modified body coverings on certain insects, e.g., moths. in music, any graduated sequence of notes, tones, or intervals dividing what is called an octave. The division of the octave into seven notes appears early in Western music. Medieval musicians employed a variety of seven-note scales known as modes. Two modes, the Ionian and the Aeolian (in a slightly modified form), remain in general use as the diatonic major and minor scales. In each major and each minor scale the semitone intervals occur in the same relation to the key note (or tonic). In the major scale the semitones occur between notes 34 and 78. The minor scale has two forms, the melodic minor and the harmonic minor. In the melodic minor the semitones occur between notes 23 and 78 ascending and between notes 65 and 32 descending. In the harmonic minor the semitones occur between 23, 56, and 78, with the interval of an augmented second (a tone plus a semitone) between notes 67. The chromatic scale is a scale that is composed of all the 12 semitones in the octave and can be considered as a colouring of the diatonic scale. The medieval musician regarded the notes C and C-sharp, for example, not as separate notes but as two aspects of one note. This could be written as C and altered in performance by reason of necessity or of beauty. At a later date, because of the tuning system called equal temperament, diatonic scales were built on any of the 12 notes of the octave. In the late 19th century the extreme use of chromaticism caused the partial destruction of diatonic tonality. The scale of 12-tone, or dodecaphonic, music uses the notes of the chromatic scale but does not permit the establishment of any tonal centre. Such 20th-century composers as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and Alban Berg used it in their technique of composition known as serialism. The whole-tone scale is often associated with Claude Debussy, although it had been used as early as the 18th century by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (in a sextet called A Musical Joke). As its name implies, it is a scale without semitones and therefore consists of only six notes. Various 19th- and 20th-century composers created other experimental scales. Many historical and some existing traditions of music make use of five notes only (with their octave transpositions), and such a practice yields a pentatonic scale. This is a gapped scalei.e., a scale containing intervals of more than a tone. One of the more familiar pentatonic scales is the equivalent of the black notes of the keyboard. See also diatonic; heptatonic scale; major scale; pentatonic scale; whole-tone scale. Additional reading Curt Sachs, The Wellsprings of Music, ed. by Jaap Kunst (1965), a systematic study of rudimentary scale types throughout the world and their evolution; Bruno Nettl, Music in Primitive Culture (1956), a concise and authoritative introduction to scale types and their geographical distribution; William P. Malm, Music Cultures of the Pacific, the Near East, and Asia (1967), lucid summaries of scale systems in non-Western art-music traditions; John L. Dunk, The Structure of the Musical Scale (1940), a thorough description of the diatonic scale; Antoine Auda, Les Gammes musicales (1947), a classic, comprehensive study of the history of scales in Western art music.

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