[Smt-talk] Meaning of Diatonic

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Tue Dec 3 05:37:05 PST 2013

Dear Colleagues,

I have a Greek colleague who translates dia-tonic as "between two tones", a tone having the meaning of a pitch, accent, melodic fragment, or even a scale. 

Diatonic is an affair between two tones with different names. For example, out of context, any whole tone or  semitone between two notes with different names will be diatonic, while, any such whole tone or semitone between the same note and its chromatic alteration will be chromatic. For instance, the spaces C-D and C-Db are diatonic by nature, while C-Cx and C-C# are chromatic. This is written in an elementary theory of Music by late Prof. Parashkev Hadjiev, which I studied some 35 years ago. 

As for tetrachords: Ionian has the semitone in the end; Dorian - in the middle, and Phrygian - in the beginning. By combining these tetrachords with the whole tone tetrachod (Lydian), one obtains the old modes.

Thank you,


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

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