Painting With Scales

As I stated in my tiny musical biography, I set out to learn music theory completely on my own, with only books to help. Not one of these was exhaustive, though (as might be this intro, I'm afraid!). So, I had no other choice but to try and dig everything out myself. As I scrutinized every song I could lay my "ears" on, tracking mode/mood (=scale/lyrics) relationships, a pattern eventually started to emerge.

Bit by bit, I became convinced that our own Great Masters tended to use the numerous scales at our disposal as if they were colours. (Here, I need to stress on the fact that, in this Scale/Colour notion of mine, I'm not trying to establish any relationship of a "physical" nature; i.e. I'm not after proving that such and such scale corresponds to such and such colour based on any resemblance between the intervallic structure of the former and the wave length of the latter. Mine is merely an empirical description of a historical tendency.)

It thus became clear to me that a given scale would, quite normally, be used to express a given positive frame of mind as well as another negative one. For example, just as the colour "red" may remind some people of "roses", while the same colour might just as well remind other people of "fire", and still others of "blood", the same phenomenon is equally applicable to any given scale.

To make your life easier, as well as mine, I'll use "tetrachords" (= four strings, from Greek) to show you what I mean. Tetrachords are the building blocks of scales; an octave, in fact, is composed of two superimposed identical/non-identical tetrachords. (Traditionally, a tetrachord is called a "Wing" in Arabic; so, a scale, much like a bird, has two "wings".)

I should add that we have a curious variety that one is tempted to call a "pentachord" (penta = five). The reason is that while tetrachords are confined within a perfect fourth, certain scales of ours simply defy consistent, thus scientific, analysis without introducing the notion of a pentachord; i.e. a group of five, consecutive notes confined within a perfect fifth.


Tell me if I'm being too subjective...

Bluish Tetrachords
  Personal happiness, Satisfaction, Morning/Sunrise, Wonder/Amazement, Military/Anthems
  Brooding, Lost hopes, Disillusion, Gentle blame, Anything in between the two extremes (above & below)
Kord (or Kurd
  Anticipated/Faked happiness, Sad memories, Rhetoric questions (=refusing to believe), Submission/Resignation

Reddish Tetrachords
  Glory, Vivid (= bleeding) pain, Weeping, Passion, Sentimentality
  Passion, Divine love/Love for God
  Warmth, Affection, Tenderness, Happiness for others

Yellowish Tetrachords
  Extreme joy, Acute feelings, Anger, Violent blame, Enthusiasm, Frustration, Suffering, Lamentation
  Depression, Despair

This next tetrachord is rather weird, though one of the most popular, as it contains both the three-quarter-tone and the one-and-half-tone intervals. This gives it the warmth of the reddish and the poignancy of the yellowish varieties, all in the same time.

One Problematic Tetrachord
  Weeping, Bleeding pain, Agony, Extreme joy for something or someone deeply cherished, Repentance, Sincere regret

This page is hosted by 
Get your own Free Home Page
Mail Me
Write Me
My Home
My Home Page