5 Section 2.2: Flavor of Music Using Scales

Flavor of Music

This is the terminology we learned in the first section during interval study. Now that we have described scales in multiple forms we can identify the intervals previously studied and the origin of the interval itself. With only two notes inferring musical flavor like major or minor there is a minimal amount of information with which to contend. Multiple notes of a scale require a deeper understanding of theoretical techniques and construction because the amount of information outlined in a scale is vast and more information means multiple subtle layers of tone color available to a composer. The first thing we teach beginning music students about the flavor of music is that MAJOR sounds equate to HAPPY emotions and MINOR sounds equate to SAD emotions. That philosophy is still relevant because the human mind attaches emotional content to sounds received by the brain based on multiple factors such as environment, socialization, education, temperament, past experiences, and other things we are still discovering.

Composers have used this understanding for millennia to compose music as a functionary part of everyday life. In its earliest stages, music had two sounds: major and natural minor. These two sounds served early composers well but eventually, they began to demand a larger palette from which to draw multiple sounds to display an array of emotions from happy to sad and all points in between. It is this need that kick-started composers into searching out new sounds and developing new scales based on history and travel. When composers travel, they soak up the local culture and artistic philosophy. If one were to travel to Greece, they learn that scales are called MODES. Through studying the Greeks, we learn they classified scales according to function and developed the Modes according to how they sound. Modality in music construction gave the composer more melodic and harmonic choices, opening the emotional floodgates, so to speak. They could now create more subtle emotional content within their compositions that affects the listener on a deep level that can have multiple interpretations.

Here we will take a look at other scales called MODES that look like different versions of major and minor scales.


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A Practical Approach To Understanding Music Theory Copyright © 2022 by Charles B. Brooks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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