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How Keys and Modes REALLY Work

Scales from Around the World

What Is a Scale? What Is a Tune? And What's the Connection?

Art is the opposite of chaos. Art is organized chaos.


Thousands of years ago in Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, people made discoveries, independently, about the connections between tunes (successions of musical notes perceived as pleasing) and scales (ordered collections of musical notes used in the tunes). Some scales eventually fell out of use. Others became fixtures of the prevailing culture.

All musical-sounding scales consist of a small selection of notes—typically five to seven intervals (six to eight notes) to the octave. The notes that comprise scales everywhere tend to have simple frequency ratio relationships with the first note of the scale. You can play most widely-used musical scales on a piano or guitar, regardless of the scale’s culture of origin.

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