[Smt-talk] Harmonic and Melodic Scales

Martin Braun nombraun at telia.com
Mon Dec 2 05:02:41 PST 2013

Hi Nicolas, and others,

"..... modulations by a fourth or a fifth (flatwards or sharpwards) ....."

If 7-tone scales are modulated this way, the necessary result is the
representation of a 12-step chroma space in the brain.

This effect is perhaps best demonstrated by the enormous popularity of the
12-key hand-pumped harmonium in Indian classical music from the mid-19th
century until today.


At times, theoretical purist tried to ban the instrument from India, but
with no success at all. The affinity of the instrument to the unknown chroma
map of the musicians and listeners simply was too strong.

I think this example highlights a general weakness of many discussions in
this forum. The focus is almost exclusively on relative pitch relations.
However, today we know that the mammalian brain has a hard-wired octave-wide
chroma map. On this map, pitch classes are unevenly represented. For
example, for Europeans, Japanese, and Americans the pitch classes A, C, D,
E, F, G are more strongly represented than the other 6 pitch classes. This
has been demonstrated by numerous experiments.

Back to the subject of scales, knowing that auditory chroma maps exist makes
it easy to understand that scales with "augmented major seconds" can be
quite stable in all music cultures that use 7-tone scales and fifth or
fourth modulations.


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-66492 Värmskog

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nicolas Meeùs" <nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be>
To: <smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>
Sent: Sunday, December 01, 2013 3:08 AM
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Harmonic and Melodic Scales

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