[Smt-talk] Harmonic and Melodic Scales

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be
Sun Dec 1 17:11:00 PST 2013


Very shortly, I agree with you that there seems to exist a tendency to 
consider that the minor scale has movable degrees, and that the major 
one has none. I fully agree with you that this is wrong: I dislike 
'harmonic minor' as much as 'harmonic major'. I merely cannot believe 
composers shifted (or event thought of shifting) from one to another 
type of scale (no more than I belive that they ever modulated, say, for 
a few measures).

The reason why it has been believed that major did not know movable 
degrees probably has to do with its 'diatonic' character (however one 
may define 'diatonicity'). In my years in the Conservatoire, I was told 
that the 'normal' form of the minor was the 'antique' (what a name!) or 
Aeolian form. Etc. I am quite interested by the history of such 
theoretical concepts – but I do not believe one second that we should 
make us guilty of repeating them.

I'd like to anwer Michael Morse's recent message about 'mode', and my 
answer may be somehow relevant to the present discussion as well. But I 
have to think about it...


Nicolas Meeùs
University Paris-Sorbonne

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