~ groups of pitches ~

'simply an additive pitch by pitch discovery to create the groups of pitches (scales) from which we create our melodic ideas ... motifs, melodies, licks, riffs and ditties, the diatonic realm, arpggios and chords'

~ creating our melodic colors ~

~ the diatonic realm ~ the modes ~

~ a one pitch tritone ~ a two pitch tritone ~

~ 3 in 1 for minor ~

'the loops of pitches to create our musical ideas'

In a nutshell, 'groups of pitches.' Just a fancy way to say 'a scale or mode?' Yea pretty much. The only caveat being that if we think of, and practice scales as scales, our melodic ideas when making music, just might end up sounding like scales. And how musical sounding are the scales? You decide.

So learning wise, there's an artistic concern here. Easy fix. We flip the bit to think that scales are naturally occurring, set 'groups of pitches.' Now set in stone, our groups today are the scales from ancient times.

While scales sound like scales, and their learning puts the pitches under our fingers, we create our melodies and improvised ideas from groups of pitches, modes, parent scales or groups. For there's more to the shedding, as rote, muscle memory scale shapes blossom into art.

So, same critters really. These 'scales and groups.' Same spots, and stripes, and notes and symbols, same sounds and hues and arpeggios too, and even the chords jump right in too :)

A definition of a scale. A succession of notes, normally either a whole tone or a half tone apart, arranged in ascending or descending order.

A definition of a group of pitches. A predefined set of pitches that clearly define a musical color and style, a set of pitches that functions in any order or combination as its own diatonic center and retains its artistic core.

Americana pitches. In creating the necessary pitches to make the various Americana musics, we really need two sets of pitches. One set of very finely tuned pitches to make the chords. And one loosely tuned set to make the blue note hues in the melodies. When we run these together in making music, we create the blue's rub. An original Americana musical invention that's really even beyond unmistakable, when we purposely rub the these uniquely tuned sets of pitches together.

The theory which follows doesn't go very deep exploring the 'rub' just above. And luckily, it doesn't really have to in a book :) So what follows is the basic theory of the pitches. Very neat and all. Closed loops that evolve, pitch by pitch, into new and bigger loops with expanded possibilities. That said, when a chance arrives to rub in some blue's hue, we do. For there's just a couple of old time tricks to it really, and there's just a few blue notes, at least when starting out to understand the pitches, so manageable. Then off on a lifetime of musical joy by discovering how our bothers and sisters put their own blue's hue tricks into play.

What's next. In the following discussions we extract our core melodic loops from the 12 pitch chromatic scale. To build up the basic groups of pitches, the various scales and modes, from which we create our melodies. These groups will then become the arpeggios, some of which we then stack up and sound together making the chords.

Three main elements + time. We theorists form our pitches into the scales, arpeggios and chords that we motorize through time to make our music. This book's core discussion of the Americana scales follows below. Click off for the arpeggios, chords and time discussions.

Additive evolutions. Woven through all of our discussions is the theoretical and philosophical basis of a simple numbering of the elements. That any component can be 'style defined' by the number of actual pitches. Example, we group three different notes to make triads. Triads are the chords for folk musics. Blues needs a b7, so we add one new pitch, and now have four different pitches in our chords. '7th' chords to play blues. Simple. The chords with five different pitches? Leaning to jazz probably and to jazz things up.

With grouping pitches for creating melodies for songs, we start with five pitches for making major, happy melodies our kids. We then flip these to minor and add one pitch for Americana blues melodies. Then flip it back over to major and add a pitch for gospel styled melodies. At seven pitches our group's magics kabooms in multiple ways. And from there? Just adding new pitches one by one up to 12, for making country, rock and pop melody lines, and then jazzing them all up.

Number of and location of the half steps. Locating where the half steps live in any group of pitches just might be the easiest way to capture each group's unique character. And does the number of half steps in a group, usually there's two, help shape and tell of its tonal gravity? It surely can. And is the tonal gravity pull between pitches a half step apart like the pull in the timing of swing ? Read on and discover :)

Advancing theorist. For the advancing theorist reading here, that knows about scales, there's really just the one idea for 'groups of pitches.'

Simply that our 'groups of pitches' today are the perfectly closed loops of pitches from which we create our melodic ideas; melody, harmony, improvisations etc. Experienced players know the sounds of scales. Creating an idea from a 'group', while simply rhetoric for some, becomes perspective for another, that reshapes lines to sound 'less scale like' and more 'storyline melodies.'

Subbing for the term 'scale' to a certain extent, a 'group' also includes the multifaceted, diatonic properties that each pitch in a 'scale' brings to the conversation of the group as a whole. Their modes? Yep.

Many solid properties including modes, shades of major / minor, arpeggios, colortones, 'parent scales' for phrases, intervals, sequences, soloing through and or over the changes, revolve around this 'group' idea. Our chosen group creates what is diatonic, thus establishing the initial boundaries of a select group of pitches. Surely a stabilizing perspective for venturing on.

History ~ theory overview. We modernés of today know of the ancient music potentials by way of that cave bear flute found back in 1995 in Slovenia. What we do not know of course is what melodies got played. Oh well, we can't know everything. We can know our Americana roots, the pitches used and the general idea of the music being created. And once we get to the post 'Edison' days, we're really kind of good to go in knowing of the music through audio recordings.

Overview: Having created an overview of our 12 pitch musical resource in the silent architecture of music and then examined the interval loops, then added the Yin / Yang balance of major and minor, all with a dash of historical spice, mathematics and whatever else came to mind, we can now begin to comb out the more defined groups of pitches from which we create the Americana sounds we love. So as with our loops study, where we started with our smallest intervals, we'll create and sequence our melodic groups here by starting small and evolving pitch by pitch.

Of course it is no coincidence that our smallest grouping of musical pitches may also live at the historical core of all our music. And while there are other possible groups, using additional intervals in the mix, it turns out that in our everyday musical lives just one interval grouping or formula has created the bulk of our melodic material. This of course is the seven pitch diatonic major scale / Ionian mode / natural minor / Aeolian mode partnership. For me, this group provides half the Yin / Yang balance and basis of our local musical universal. The other half? Why the blues and its blue notes of course :)

Tuning magic. And while the melodic importance of the aforementioned seven pitch major scale / grouping in our AmerAfroEuro music might never be overstated, we should add into the mix now about how we modernists tune these pitches today. That our modern tuning system is what creates our entire pitch resource.

For in today's modern tuning system, all of our groups / scales, their modes, arpeggios and chords, are equally project-able from each of the 12 pitches, thanks to the mathematics of equal temper tuning. Without which, much of the intune chords and borrowing of interesting puzzle pieces, from multiple if not all of our key centers, begins to go away.

So if we get all of our melody and all of our chords from these ancient groups, no wonder they are still around eh? What about the blues? I knew you'd ask that. As we'll soon see, the blue notes / melodies are pure core Americana pitches too. That we find the blue colors woven into nearly every nook and cranny of our myriad of different styles and sounds, makes them all the more difficult to theorize about.

We'll theoretically find them in the following discussion sandwiched in between the organic evolution of our five note minor group into a six for the blues, before adding one more for our grouping of seven. Sort of a missing link? Maybe. Do read on and discover their theory and then just decide for yourself where to place them in your own understanding of the musics.

~ with five ancient pitches arranged by the Mother, a place to start ~

Start. A five note grouping of pitches. At the historical and theoretical core of the Americana melodic sounds we find the five pitch grouping commonly referred to as the pentatonic scale. Found by musicologists in many indigenous cultures, our own Native Americans, the 'Amer' part of AmerAfroEuro, own this group of pitches. Turns out that all improvising musicians love these pentatonic groupings too in that there are really no 'bad' pitches in the bunch, when used for improv over appropriate changes.

Initially we've two basic varieties of this grouping of five pitches; major and minor, can you hear the difference between the two? Major and minor? And know the theory of their colors? This first idea is in the major tonality. Remember this ditty from way back when? Thinking from the root pitch 'C.' Example 1.

"Shortnin' Bread." "Mama's little baby loves shortnin' shortnin' ..." Know this melody? The carefree, whimsical nature of this melody embodies one of the essential emotional character qualities of the major pentatonic group of pitches. When we hear melodies that create this sense of jaunty-ness and joy, really good chance they too are created from the pentatonic group of pitches.

wiki ~ "Shortnin' Bread"

Songs for kids and beyond. With its handful of pitches and joyous nature, it is no surprise that we find this major pentatonic color creating musical tones for children, world music, rock, reggae and the pop styles. Why even those garden wind chimes, that bless us with their melodic strains, as freely wrought as the breeze that stirs them to life, are often the five notes of the pentatonic major group of pitches.

wiki ~ wind chimes

Historically an essential grouping of pitches, we'll find pentatonic melodies in the early music cultures of China, Africa, our own Native American Indian cultures and that of the Celts and Scots of the British Isles. So its pitches have surely been with us for a very long time.

wiki ~ Native American music

Extracting the pitches. Thinking of the "Shortnin" melody just above, now that we have a wee bit of real art to examine, let's become the scientist and figure out what pitches and intervals the composer used, look for patterns and generate new avenues to explore, based on the theory of just this group of five ancient pitches.

Music / math. We can do this by simply extracting the five different pitches of our melody from the twelve pitches of the chromatic scale. We then examine the distance between the pitches, their intervals, to create our pentatonic scale formula. Thinking major, from the root / tonic pitch 'C.' Example 1a.

chromatic scale
C
C#
D
D#
E
F
F#
G
G#
A
A#
B
C
pentatonic scale
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
.
.
C
intervals
whole step
whole step
minor third
whole step
minor third
C to D
major 2nd
.
C to E
major 3rd
.
C to G
perfect fifth
.
C to A
major sixth
.
C to C
perfect octave
formula
whole step
whole step
minor third
whole step
minor third

Examine the intervals. Thinking from our root pitch 'C', the major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 5th and 6th intervals combine to create the overall coloring of the major pentatonic group of pitches. Easy enough huh?

1 2 3 5 6 ... no 4 or 7 yet ...

Also, in measuring the intervals between the pitches, we also find two minor third intervals within the octave span. Hmm, what might that imply? And note also that there are no half steps in the formula yet, the basis interval of our chromatic scale and a 'definer' for others.

Major pentatonic melodies. So what style of music can we create with these five core pitches? What triads or chords if any? The melodies would be along the lines of "Shortnin' above, so mostly jaunty songs for kids to sing along with easily. Surely some folk and gospel tunes.

Want triads with these pitches? Working diatonically, so with just the five pitches, we get two triads; one major one minor. And these are the relative major and minor triads? Built up on One and Six ? Yes they are. Thinking from 'C' again, we get the 'C major and 'A' minor triads. The core of it all? Yea, and bigtime really. White keys on the piano, triads galore, at least through the styles up to when the blues comes along. All the chords happen real nice with the seven pitch diatonic scale. We'll get there soon enough even by just adding one pitch at a time.

A Yin for every Yang Within the intervals in the major pentatonic scale scale formula we quickly discover the seeds for the minor tonality also. The minor third interval from 'A to C' is the key. Here are the letter name pitches, this time using the 'flat' accidentals in making up the chromatic group, our 'C' major pentatonic group now morphing into its relative minor, the 'A' minor pentatonic group. Super theory game changer here? Hope so. Ex. 2.

chromatic scale
A
Bb
B
C
Db
D
Eb
E
F
Gb
G
Ab
A
pentatonic scale
A
.
.
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
intervals
minor third
whole step
whole step
minor third
whole step
A to C
minor 3rd
.
A to D
perfect 4th
.
A to E
perfect fifth
.
A to G
minor seventh
.
A to A
perfect octave
formula
minor third
whole step
whole step
minor third
whole step

Examine the intervals. The first leap of the minor third from our root pitch 'A' up to the minor 3rd 'C' gives away the tonality.

Any group of pitches, arpeggios or chords, that uses this root / minor third interval basis, is always minor.

Conversely, root / major 3rd is always major yes?

So we can see the exact same letter pitches creating our two distinct tonalities. While we lose the 6th from the major group, we do gain a 7th in minor, which here is a whole step below or octave root note. This is the essential minor or blue 7th of the musics we call the blues. We can find it near anywhere through the Americana musics, where the blues has an influence.

A place to start. For many musicians, the minor pentatonic grouping of pitches is the first pathway of our journey into the world of creating the sounds of Americana music. This next idea is the somewhat ancient European melody that becomes in 1800's Americana the newer "House Of The Rising Sun."

Way later it becomes a #1 pop hit for The Animals in the mid 1960's. Find these pitches and express some built right-in core essential minor key coolness. Think 'A' minor and same scale shape as above. Here's what we can get with five pitches or so. Example 2a.

wiki ~ Rising Sun Blues
wiki ~ The Animals

Classic line yes? Maybe play it real simple at first. Sing along with your notes and feel and find their power for you. Combine and strengthen up knowing exactly where to find the pitch you're hearing, then lean hard on these pitches with practiced confidence. Jazz it up by adding your own voice inflections on the pitches. Then find these inflections on your ax. Learn or write some new words, and testify they from the heart. All a very simply process, just 'sing the line, play the line.' Over and over till rote memorized and it becomes second nature, and then we can begin to think ahead.

Author's note / a worthy tasking. These above melody notes of the minor pentatonic are the essential basis of our blues music and the blues scale, whose theory follows next. Strengthen up to be able to count it off and weave these five pitches through a few consecutive choruses of 12 bar blues and a true cornerstone is laid in your musical foundation.

audio / vid of the process /

Original forms of minor pentatonic music. One key aspect of creating minor pentatonic / Native American melodies to remember is that a large number of voices usually sang the same melody line together, in unison. And while they probably strove to be in tune (?) or not as the case maybe, recordings and 'ear witness' accounts tell a different story.

That the slightly 'in and out' of tune quality of multiple voices can be the spice to get the minor pentatonic pitches to further resonate together, heightening their powers. As artists, we'll often 'push the pitches around,' by bending and vibrato. Both change the pitch of the note. And as soon as we do, we feel these pitches charge up and begin to glow and vibrate, as we bump right into the power of the blue notes and their flavoring of most any Americana melody lines. Hint; with some 'love rub', the regular old 'in tune' blue 3rd just glows and glows. Try it, the sensation is unmistakable Americana blue :)

This multiple voice / slight variable pitch quality is also found in through the early Americana gospel, the early revival blues singing. That this slightly 'out of tune' quality of pitch and intonation, created by many voices raised together in song, just might be an integral component of the spiritual allure and magic we seek when presenting this historical music today.

Any triads / chords from these five pitches? Just the same two as from the major pentatonic group; a mostly 'A' minor 7th, with a sus 4 / 11. And a 'C' major 6 and 9 styled color, created by stacking perfect 4'ths above the root in this next example. Example 2b.

~ six pitches minor ~ super theory game changer ~

5 + 1 = 6. Our next group evolution evolves by adding one additional pitch to the five notes of the minor pentatonic color. Turns out that the pitch we need is the one that lives at the midpoint of our perfect octave span. Examine the pitches. Example 3.

chromatic scale
A
Bb
B
C
Db
D
E
E
F
Gb
G
Ab
A
octave midpoint
A
.
.
.
.
.
Eb
.
.
.
.
.
A
A to Eb
augmented 4th / 5th
tritone
A to A
perfect octave span
blues scale pitches
A
.
.
C
.
D
Eb
E
.
.
G
.
A

Minor pentatonic five + one tritone = blues scale. By adding in this octave mid point pitch, also named an augmented 4th, diminished 5th or the tritone, the all important core blues scale, or grouping of pitches :) emerges. As the term itself implies, the tri-tone interval encompasses 'three tones,' which in this component is three whole steps. So six frets on one string? Yep, six.

And add in some blue chromatic. With this tritone insertion, we also gain a bit of purely chromatic color into what was before a 'half step free zone' of the minor pentatonic group. Compare these groups of pitches over an 'A' minor, then blues over 'A7' chord vamp or click off to a 12 bar blues track and search for the coolness within this essential song form. Example 3a.

Here it clear? The tritone in the line? Cool. No? Just click again. Hard to over state how this one pitch, for blues leaning musics, in an instant brings the blue hue.

ear training

If there was ever a historical home for the Americana sounds, surely this grouping of pitches would live there. We can easily research and find documentation of these default Americana blues colors in Ragtime (1890's), early jass (1900's), the blues (1910), Louis Armstrong's jazz (1920's onward), swing jazz (1930's), bebop (1940's) rock n' roll (1950's), blues / acid rock (1960's), electric blues and rock (1970's), disco (1980's ... well maybe not disco) but surely in James Brown's 1980's funk, Stevie Ray Vaughn blues (1990's) and even today in the _________ style (s) of this new millennia. And surely this essential color existed prior to our known written records. How far back is everyone's guess. Is there any real blues-less Americana musical era?

wiki ~ Louis Armstrong
wiki ~ James Brown
wiki ~ S.R.Vaughn
wiki ~ Blues research

Adding the tritone. This next idea simply bluesifies the minor pentatonic idea included just above. We 'blusify' by slipping in the tritone ( 'x' marks the spot for guitar ) into the line. Example 3b.

So very common. This tritone additive is very, very common in any of the blues infused rock and beyond Americana musical styles. Metalists might surely recognize this 'lifting' of an idea from what today has become a metal anthem originally done by British rockers back in '72.' Simply a timeless minor pentatonic idea with a dash of the tritone spice.

wiki ~ heavy metal anthems
wiki ~ British rockers

A big tritone vamp. Getting momentarily away from things a bit with this next idea, we give the tritone color a bit more of the spotlight. Here's a potentially essential vamp idea, based the tritone interval. Something we might hear as a head arrangement, a vamp behind a soloist or an entrance of a intriguing type, yet perhaps comical character in theatrical spoofs. Count Basie and the Kansas City sounds of the late 30's and forward grooved hard on this sort of 'vamping tritone energy' and evolved the Americana jazz forevermore. Learn it here if need be. Example 3c.

Got a spot for this line ? Big tritone vamp :)

Further digressions, a key theory element. Do you remember the interval formula for the pentatonic scale? And if there were any half step intervals in the formula? Well, there are none and the addition of the one pitch tritone here adds a half step interval, creating our blues group. For we now have chromatically filled in the whole step interval span between the 4th and 5th scale degrees. Hold onto this half step key as we're going to need it again momentarily.

Back to the Blues. The blue notes go way deep of course in the Americana sounds. As such we can use these roots to great advantage in our music. One absolutely cool thing about the blues scale (notes), and in nearly any musical situation, is that they can be used as an 'anchor' to ground even the zaniest improvisations. That no matter how far out we go, a honking blue note can, and will bring us quickly home to our tonic pitch, key etc. (That is if everyone in the band hears it :)

With roots so deep in our music, the blue notes also gives the listeners of your music, from all walks of life, something familiar to identify with and dig their ears into. And chances are that a hint of the blue color, even outside its traditional setting, will so often bring a smile to those ears it finds to grace.

~ six pitches major ~ super theory game changer ~

5 + 1 = 6 and motion to Four. As there has got to be a balance for all, our six note minor blues has a six note major version, also with the addition of the one pitch. Again we add a 4th scale degree, but this time it is the diatonic fourth scale degree, a perfect fourth above our root pitch, and not the 'sharp Four / #4' / tritone / octave splitter, as we did with the pentatonic minor group.

I call this grouping of six, the major pentatonic scale + one, the 'Americana gospel' group. For in theory, and at least in this book, any motion to Four, in any style, can convey that sense of gospel in our musics. For in these six pitches we retain the 'no bad notes qualities' of the pentatonics, yet with adding the fourth scale degree, we gain a full on subdominant note, triad, and even some color tones. Remember this melody? Example 4.

As gospel as it gets? Sure is a solid capture of the our earthly essence. And while the melody has no diatonic fourth scale pitch in it, the harmony can. Game changer? Totally. Examine the letter name pitches and scale degrees as extracted from the 12 tones of the chromatic scale. In 'C' major, example 4a.

chromatic scale
C
C#
D
D#
E
F
F#
G
G#
A
A#
B
C
pentatonic scale
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

gospel scale

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

scale degree

1
.
2
.
3
4
.
5
.
6
.
.
8

Cool? Easy yea, we're right back to heading towards the relative major / minor, a core of it all, group of pitches. Just one pitch away now. Crucial diatonic theory here is to recognize the newly created half step interval between Three and Four, which completes our first tetrachord and thus, way way more.

For now that we have a second place to 'rest' within the diatonic realm, we've a place to go that's a solid tonal destination, that 'uplift' our whole consciousness, gospel, we can build ways to get there.

... at home on One, off on a journey to Four, then somehow work it on back home, to rest on One ...

Joyous Americana melody. So with the inclusion of the diatonic Four to our group, we now have the melody note to create the triad pitches for true, 'official' motion to most things Four. No 'borrowing' needed, as both the pitch and its major triad, and even some color tones, appear on our palettes for near all things Four. We hear this theory in action in the classic "Oh Susanna." Here written in C, in 2/4, in an AAB form. Example 4b.

Got this melody under your fingers? Simply the five pitches of the major pentatonic group plus the diatonic Four pitch. The second phrase opens on Four, and works its way on back to One. "Oh Susanna" has been a big hit for many stars over the decades, need another 'hit' for your own career ?

wiki ~ "Oh Susanna"

New harmonies with Four. In evolving our diatonic triads and chords, by adding in the 4th scale degree we get some huge new coolness. For along with One and Six from five pitches, we now can add the Two and Four triads with six pitches in our group. Examine the letter pitches, thinking in 'C' major. Example 4c.

scale numerical degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
.
8
C major scale pitches
C
D
E
F
G
A
.
C
arpeggio numerical degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
.
15
C major arpeggio pitches
C
E
G
.
D
F
.
C
chord quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
.
VIII
triads
CEG
DFA
.
FAC
.
ACE
.
CEG

Cool. See the nice and clear relationships between the letter pitches of One and Six? Two and Four? They share pitches, in a super organized way. Understanding this basic evolution of the pitches will be a game changer for some. For chords tend to fascinate certain styles of intellects, and for the jazz leaning stylist, there's simply no end to the wonderful harmony machinations of the 12 pitches. Examine and compare their pitches. Ex. 4d.

scale numerical degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
.
8
C major scale pitches
C
D
E
F
G
A
.
C
chord quality
.
ii - 9
.
IV maj 7
.
.
.
.
triads
.
DFACE
.
FACE
.
.
.
.

One chord built right within another. These two play a large role in evolving this towards the jazzier stylings. Two is just a sleeker version of Four. This encourages it to move faster. So our overall tempos increase. It pairs with Five to make the 'Two / Five' cadential motion. So while Four retains its 'go to, gospel status, we'll often use the sleeker Two chord to get us there.

~ 7 pitches ~ a super super theory game changer ~

5 + 2 = 7. Well, for every Yin there's a Yang, so there must be a way to add a tritone color into the major pentatonic color. And of course there is. Same concept, but new additive process, super nova complete game changer, yet a totally organic evolution of our resource. Please to always remember that we're music theorists here, we get 12 pitches and our math tops out at 15 or so, so it really doesn't take a whole lot to elevate our game to the super super nova level :)

One pitch ~ two pitch. Turns out to create super nova level theory evolution we need to double up our tritone color. Use two pitches then? Yep. So while the added a 'one pitch tritone split with the tonic pitch, now we need a 'two pitch tritone interval' on different scale degrees.

And from somewhere out of the chromatic ... In examining the remaining pitches of the chromatic scale, once the major pentatonic group is extracted, there's only one combination of the remaining pitches that solves this two pitch tritone interval puzzle, these will become the 4th and 7th scale degrees of the major scale. Examine the letter names, thinking 'C' major. Ex. 5.

chromatic scale
C
C#
D
D#
E
F
F#
G
G#
A
A#
B
C
pentatonic scale
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

major scale

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C

scale degree

1
.
2
.
3
4
.
5
.
6
.
7
8

So a two pitch tritone interval between the 4th and 7th scale degrees. Adding in these pitches creates a group of seven pitches whose capabilities, now both melodic and also harmonic, have all been rather stunning for the last 40 millennia or so. Compare our five and seven pitch major sounding colors. Example 5a.

Stunning? Well yes. How so? By adding the two pitch tritone, designated by the x's in the scale grid above the notation, we've added in two half steps into our grouping and now create the relative major scale / Ionian mode grouping of pitches. These two groups, major scale and Ionian mode, have the exact same of everything, just different labels based on their histories. Most of the theory discussions in this work create the view from this dual major scale, Ionian perspective of things.

This seven pitch, Ionian / major scale is the primary melodic resource for creating our AmerAfroEuro collection of songs. By far far and away away. When these pitches are equal temper tuned, this seven note group provides the pitch resource to create all of our chords of functional harmony. Arpeggios too? Of course? Modes? Yep. All any any chord? Yep. So ... anything from anywhere ? Pretty much.

The minor within. Just as with our pentatonic major and minor groups, our seven pitch scale has the same pairing of tonalities. In chart form, evolving the minor penta five into natural minor seven from the chromatic grouping starting on the pitch 'A'. Example 5b.

chromatic scale
A
B
B
C
Db
D
Eb
E
F
Gb
G
Ab
A
pentatonic scale
A
.
.
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A

minor scale

A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A

scale degree

1
.
2
-3
.
4
.
5
-6
.
-7
.
8

The natural minor. Our minor keyed 'relative' balance to major is often termed the natural minor, Aeolian or relative minor, all depending on where we find the loop. Relative to what? Well, major. Exact same pitches, just a different whole step / half step interval formula because we start at a different point in the loop. And some pitches are set in stone yes ? This essential pairing of 'the relatives' can become, and very often does become, the basis of all one's thinking. Master rote learn this ancient theory here and now if need be.

Relative major = relative minor = Ionian = Aeolian. So do all of these groups have the same pitches? Indeed they do. Is there a way to theoretically take advantage of all this 'pitch sameness' in the music we create? Indeed there is. Let's start a discovering process of these four 'unique groupings with the exact same pitches', by simply extracting and comparing them to the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. First using letter names and thinking in 'C.' Example 6.

chromatic scale
C
C#
D
D#
E
F
F#
G
G#
A
A#
B
C
major
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

relative minor

A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A

Ionian mode

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C

Aeolian mode

A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A

So four uniquely labeled groups of pitches all with the exact same letter names. Crazy huh? Well it is what it is. So each of these four groups have the exact same pitches? Indeed they do. 'Relative' is a term that rises to new prominence after equal temper tuning comes into vogue, and expanded key centers become the currency of composers. The Aeolian, Ionian and soon to be added Locrian, are the 'newer yet still ancient' groups added to the original Greek modes of antiquity.

Set in stone half steps. Are there any other ways we name this particular loop of pitches by using different starting points? Yes there is. In today's modern ways, we can easily create loops within a loop from each pitch, each becoming unique by the location of our two, set in stone half steps. Locate the set in stone half steps between pitches with the piano keys. Example 6a.

And these set in stone pitch locations live on our guitars too? Surely do. Find and examine the guitar's 'E / F' and 'B / C' half steps right out of the gate. Example 6b.

letter name pitches

Why important. In a major key, the two natural half steps create two ascending leading tones within the same relative group of pitches. One's a bit stronger in tonal gravity than the other. One becomes an ascending half step to our tonic pitch, 'B to C', and one 'leads us up' to Four, 'E to F.' These half steps create 'motion to' energy of our One and Four chords. Five ( V7 ) has its own tritone juice within, to keep things moving right along.

In minor. In the minor keys, one way to think of these half steps is the flip side balance, we descend to Five by half step and descend by half step to Two. Two is quite possibly the ultimate suspension above the tonic, for it really creates the 'pull' to our tonic pitch resolution. 'Longing on Two.' We hear this '3 / 2' half step an awful lot in the plainchant vocal styles of the later Medieval into the Renaissance eras.

wiki ~ Medieval music
wiki ~ Renaissance music

The b6 down to 5, 'F to E', is as poignant a lick as we might ever get, especially with the subdominant Four chord in a minor key. In 'A' minor. Example 6c.

Feel the pull downward? Sing the pitches to internalize the magics.

Quick review. Its in the half step locations of our interval formulas, while using the same letter name pitches, that gives us the aural color of any grouping with these seven pitches.

Gains in a major key with these seven pitches. There's initially three super key theory things now possible with this seven note grouping of pitches. First, we add two half step intervals into our mix which become the fourth and seventh scale degrees. The second super key is a fully functioning system of modes. And third, now fully empowered with our seven pitch scale, we're ready to create the diatonic arpeggios and chords.

A half step into Four. Here we focus on the half step from E to F. Example 6d.

first tetra chord
C
D
E
F

Here the stepwise direction and intent of 'arriving' at Four? Known in theory as the subdominant, its role in our music, over a wide spectrum of styles, is rather vast. Towards the top of this list is this pitch's / chord's position to create a second 'resting place' within our chosen key center. Four is also very often the 'go to' pitch and chord for adding a gospel spice to the music. (Note Roman numerals to designate chords by their numerical scale degree and major / minor quality.)

A half step into One. The second half of our two pitch tritone becomes the leading tone of any major key. Often as the penultimate pitch in melodic lines, the resolution or seeking to rest, often happens as Seven gets pulled up to One, by the sheer tonal gravity between the pitches. Here we focus on the natural half step between the pitches B to C. Example 6e.

second tetra chord
G
A
B
C

What we gain from the leading tone is the sense of impending resolution to a destination, thus a release of aural tension and we come to a rest point. We often encapsulate this leading tone with its tritone partner in our dominant seventh chords, V7, as shown in the last example. This Five (V7) chord is not only the key to directing our local harmonic traffic universe, but also becomes a catalyst and portal to all points beyond.

Interesting also that, in the addition of our two new pitches, one provides respite (Four) and one provides momentum (Seven). So again the balance eh ? Essential to all of the Amer Afro Euro musical sounds we love.

With 7 pitches we gain the arpeggios and chords. Another super colossal advantage to the seven note groups is their ability to create chords. With the seven pitches, we can now build a triad (and way beyond) on each of the seven scale degrees within the groups. Are all these chords the same? Well, yes and no. Obviously the major scale and Ionian mode pitches are exactly the same so their chords are identical. Similar with the natural minor and Aeolian modes? Yep. And if all of these groups have the same pitches then their chords are identical too ? Well in theory yes.

The no part of this 'sameness' involves the mood of the music we are creating, and that mood is based mostly in its key center. And while the pitches, thus chords are the same, which pitch is the center (tonal) becomes the key to opening that particular universe of musical color.

For from that one pitch we will measure our interval distances to its diatonic and non-diatonic brethren pitches, these 'intervals between' determine the moods and character of the sounds we shape to tell our tales. For while each key is built up from the same theory, they sound different from one another, and each has it's own emotional magics to be discovered and balanced when used in songs with multiple key centers.

The following chart spells out the major scale and evolves its pitches into its arpeggio, which is then segmented into the seven diatonic triads. Thinking in 'C' major, the chart becomes thus. Example 7.

scale numerical degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale pitches
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio numerical degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio pitches
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII
triads
CEG
DFA
EGB
FAC
GBD
ACE
BDF
CEG

This last chart is probably worth the price of admission into this UYM world. All depending of course, but it gives us a format to spell any triad that comes along quite quickly and with perfect accuracy.

Quick review, seven pitches and the half step truth in black and white. Adjacent white keys with no black key in between? 'B to C and E to F', simply the natural half steps that are permanently built right into our pitch theories and their location of our conventional pianos. These two half steps make for C major / A minor key centers. Remember, there's half steps all over this critter, any two adjacent keys.

Please examine the keys the next time you're near a piano, as these are set in stone so to speak, thus the same on any piano, providing a solid 1000 year foundation for our theoretical musings. Example 8.

 

It must be. Of course it is. If there is an A minor pentatonic scale made with the same pitches as the C major pentatonic scale, then surely is there an A natural minor scale that shares the same pitches as the C major scale? Absolutely. Relatives? Absolutely. Locate the pitches on the keyboard illustration above. Here are the pitches on guitar in mp3 action. Example 8a.

Same pitches / different intervals. As we can see from the chord diagram above the notation that we're using the same pitches to get both the major and minor environments. So as discussed above, it is the intervals between the pitches which create the two tonalities, major or minor, which we conveyed in just four bars. Pretty handy for sure and a simple beginning for a 'sky's the limit' pitch perspective of our creative potential.

Same pitches create other groupings? Absolutely. So if we can work these same pitches from 'C to C' and create the 'C' major scale and 'A to A' for the 'A' natural minor scale, why not create a looping group from each of the different pitches within this loop?

Well, we absolutely can and depending on musical styles, we so often do just that. What shakes loose, from this different grouping approach of the same pitches, we today commonly term the church modes.

These 'mode groups' go way back in history, having origins in ancient Greece. As we move forward in history, we can clearly hear modal sounds in various cultural and ethnic stylings. In today's cornucopia of musical sounds, it is not uncommon to associate the Mixolydian grouping with Celtic music, or the Phrygian color with the flamenco sounds of the Iberian peninsula.

wiki ~ Celtic music
wiki ~ Iberian Peninsula

Most of today's modal system comes to us from this cat Glareanus, who nearly finalized our modern system of groups, scales, modes by adding in Ionian and Aeolian, thought to be the most popular 'tavern' modes of his day i.e., 1550's in Switzerland.

The next evolutionary theory step is right around 1700, and will be to equal temper tune the pitches and build all this into a 'piano forte', so named by its soft and loud capability, creating the 'anything from anywhere' abilities we've enjoyed for the last 300 years or so or ever since.

Thus empowered with equal tempered tuned pitches, all our melodies, arpeggios and chords, in any and every combination, project from any of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale.

Since the 1500's or so, the 'rule of 18' spaced the frets to equal temper pitches for such folks as Vincenzo Galilei, master lutenist and composer, whose written work describing the 'rules of the day' we have today. Familiar name yes? Sure is, Vincenzio is the father of astronomer Galileo, who also had a new idea or two.

wiki ~ the piano forte
wiki ~ Vincenzo Galilei
wiki ~ Galileo
~ stgc ~ three in one minor groups ~

Advancing the minor tonal environment. By defining our groups of pitches spectrum with the relative major and minor groups as bookends, we could view the groups in the middle, the modes discussed above and groupings which follow here, as colors that lean towards one end or the other, providing a progression or spectrum of the gradually differing hues of color from one end point to the other.

The following evolution of minor groupings borrow pitches to lean us back towards the major color end of the spectrum. With these 'borrowed' pitches, we can spice up and cadentially strengthen our natural minor grouping of pitches. So from the natural minor we alter its pitches to gradually bring its sound back to its own parallel major key center.

Evolving the natural minor Aeolian group. We historically have two common alterations that we apply to the pitches of our natural minor scale. We can facilitate this evolution process by using our half scales, the tetrachord, which in the modern sense of today can be any group of four pitches. In creating these next two groups, we'll simply alter the upper tetrachord of the natural minor scale. Examine the pitches of the natural minor scale's two tetrachords from our root pitch 'A.' Example 9.

Two tetrachords. Nothing fancy here, we simply divide our eight pitches (with octave closure), into two equal parts. In the following two groups, our lower tetrachord remains the same, providing the stability and essence of the minor tonality. We'll jazz up the upper tetrachord to open up our pitch options for melody and to create stronger, more directionally defined cadential motions.

Harmonic minor / altering one pitch. In our first evolution from natural minor, we raise the 7th up by half step to the leading tone position, so the same as with the major scale group. This arrangement, termed the harmonic minor scale, is a rare bird indeed. A one of a kind really, as there are now three half steps in the one grouping within an octave span. Here are their respective pitches. Example 9a.

wiki ~ "Sunrise, Sunset"
scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
natural minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
3 ~ 1/2 steps
.
1/2
.
1/2
1/2
harmonic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G#
A

What we gain with harmonic minor. Three half steps in the one group creates some interesting options in creating melodies. Even right out of the box the group sounds fairly ancient, especially when used over a minor triad.

In the harmony? A real influence is specifically with the Five chord. For with the addition of the leading tone we gain the two pitch tritone interval between the 4th and 7th scale degrees. This translates into V7 and thus, all of the possibilities of the dominant chord type harmony begin to blossom. Examine the cadential motions in the following lines. Cool with the numbers? Upper and lower case Roman numerals? Five / One in 'A' minor. Example 9b.

The V7 is thought to be a more 'perfect', creating a more definite, 'directive' and 'resolved' sounding resolution and release of tension, coming to a place of rest in the music. All thanks to including the leading tone, resolving by half step motion to our chosen tonic pitch 'A.' Near any rootsy vibe organically wants to go with all minor chords, usually One, Four and Five. Yet, with adding the leading tone, there's now some blues hue in V7, for its two pitch tritone within has the blue DNA too.

Solid American roots. A nice example of the leading tone in a minor melody is "Go Down Moses", the 19th century gospel standard. Here in 'A' minor and starting out with a nice leap of a minor 6th, the line clearly sounds the leading tone / half step resolution at its close. Example 9c.

wiki ~ Go Down Moses

Feel the 'pull' of the leading tone to resolve? Cool, that's what the leading tone does, it leads us to another pitch. Know this melody yet? I first learned it way back when in elementary school, imagine that. Learn it here and now if need be.

Diminished 7th arpeggio ~ diatonic source. Taking full advantage of the major seventh leading tone of the harmonic minor grouping, we discover the only organic, and non-symmetrical source of fully diminished seventh arpeggio and resulting chord. Examine the letter pitches. Example 10.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
natural minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
harmonic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G#
A
diminished 7th
.
B
.
D
.
F
G# (Ab)
.

This is really the only true organically grown morph of the pitches, a scale ~ arpeggio ~ chord evolution for the double tritone interval, to create the fully diminished 7th colors. Really? Seems so. Just the one spot in the theory where this rare arrangement of four pitches, of all minor 3rd intervals, calls home sweet home.

B minor 3rd to D minor 3rd to F minor 3rd to Ab

B to F and D to Ab = 2x tritone

Mostly a jazz thing, its double tritone nears the top of our evolutions, becoming the 'b9' portal running on V7 juice, that through its multiple leading tones, energizes our travels to multiple relative and parallel key center points. Thus providing us a neat way to modulate to new key centers, beyond the diatonic realm.

While we've had the three note diminished triad since our evolution to the seven pitch major / minor group, in adding the leading tone seventh of harmonic minor, we create the fully diminished seventh chord. Which in this book's theory and practice, becomes a core catalyst to creating a pathway of the historical evolutions of our Americana harmony. Aurally examine the distillation of these pitches from 'A' harmonic minor. Example 10a.

Cool? Need some diminished 7th chord voicings ?

Augmented triad ~ diatonic source. Also from harmonic minor, with its leading tone 7th, we've an organic source for the augmented triad. While a rarely used component throughout our Americana musics, there are some super key spots where this 'augmented' color becomes the perfect puzzle piece. Not uncommon in blues and common in jazz, the occasional augmented chord in pop is refreshing and can become a key part of a song's hook. Examine the pitches from the root pitch 'A' and the basic sound evolutions of the color. Ex. 11.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
natural minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
harmonic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G#
A

As with the diminished colors, there's that perfect symmetry of interval in this whole tone triad. With its two major 3rd intervals, any of the three pitches in the triad can be the root pitch of the chord. So a 'three for one' deal, giving us some compositional options when composing beyond the diatonic or borrowing bits of color from other key centers to sparkle things up a bit. Examine the three sets of pitches. Example 11a.

C augmented triad / arpeggio
C
E
G#
E augmented triad / arpeggio
E
G#
C
G# augmented triad / arpeggio
G#
C
E

Same pitches / three unique triads. These three chords are different inversions of the same triad yes? Sure are. And this basic symmetry of the whole tone / augmented colors figures into an evolution in jazz that created a whole new pathway to explore.

Pioneered by John Coltrane, many who have come after have explored along this pathway. We come back full circle to our pentatonic colors, with their 'no bad pitches' improv abilities, though thanks to Coltrane, at a heightened position through this evolution.

Klezmer colors, an exotic 'modal minor' group. We can also dig into the harmonic group and create an important 'mode within a mode', that becomes one of the core group of pitches used in creating the popular Klezmer style of music. Known for its twisty half steps and toe tapping tempos, Klezmer melody and improvised lines often rely on the cluster of pitches in its lower tetrachord to create its character sound.

wiki ~ Klezmer

We create this group from within the harmonic minor by thinking from a fourth below the root to a fifth above. Fourth below to fifth above. Examine the pitches and a melody. In 'A.' Example 12.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
natural minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
harmonic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G#
A
Klezmer pitches
E
F
G#
A
B
C
D
E

Interesting sound yes? The half steps between tonic and Two, as in Phrygian and Locrian, and then again between Three and Four, as in the major scale, all combine to create the core uniqueness of this grouping. For it surely is a one of a kind.

A second evolution of natural minor. In our next evolution of the natural minor group, we'll again alter one pitch of the upper tetrachord. Needing our tonic and 5th scale degrees intact to maintain our tonal center, and that the 7th has already been altered, we are left with the 6th scale degree, which we now also raise by half step to create our melodic minor grouping of pitches. Compare the three groups. In 'A.' Example 13.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
natural minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
harmonic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G#
A
melodic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G#
A

Almost ... but not quite. From the pitches above, those in the know will see we've only a one pitch difference now between the groups of 'A' melodic minor and the diatonic 'A' major group of pitches. Examine their letter named pitches. Example 13a.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
natural minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
harmonic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G#
A
melodic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G#
A
A major pitches
A
B
C#
D
E
F#
G#
A

A 'tidal' motion. The gradual addition of pitches to the minor groups in a sense is a motion back towards the major scale. We get some of this 'tidal' motion, a pull between the major and minor, with the #15 arpeggios. Compare the sounds of the letter name pitches from the chart just above. Example 13b.

A classical approach. While not something at all common in the Americana musical sounds, there is a pure theory of the classical cats that stipulates that in using the melodic minor grouping, we use different pitches depending on the direction of the melodic line. Ascending we want the major 6th and 7th, descending is natural minor. Example 14c.

"Greensleeves." Might melodic minor be the best of both major and minor worlds combined into one grouping of pitches? This surely seems to be the case for the well crafted 16th century melody "Greensleeves." So again into the wayback we go, this time to find a melody line that uses aspects of each of our three minor group variations plus a hint of major into one gorgeous tune. Know this melody? Perhaps begin to learn it now if needed. Here are the first two phrases working the melodic minor pitches. Thinking in 'A' minor. Ex. 13d.

Bar 14 has the 'melodic' pitches, setting up a nice and solid settling to our tonic pitch 'A.' 1960's guitar master Wes Montgomery had a nice hit with "Greensleeves." Sounded in octaves, the line swings just fine even 400 years or so later, in a more jazz waltz, 3/4 setting.

wiki ~ Wes Montgomery

An important jazz color. The melodic minor group can be a key color player for the evolving jazz artist. Many modern leaning players might also call these pitches Lydian b7, which simply consists of a Lydian mode with a dominant blue 7th, which is a key mode found within this melodic minor grouping. Examine the pitches. Example 14.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
'A' melodic minor
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G#
A
scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
b7
8
'D' Lydian b7
D
E
F#
G#
A
B
C
D

Long story short for this discussion here, is that in jazz we often substitute one element for another. This is primarily done with chords of the songs we play. Once the chords are subbed out, our melodic, single note improvisations will have these 'subbed' out changes too, creating new melody pathways to explore.

Soloing over and through a song's written changes, and then finding additional substitution chords to spice things up and evolve the music, all have been a traditional part of the Americana blues and jazz art form since its inception back in the 1880's or so.

Probably stemming all the way back to the age old format of theme and variations, the harmony, sounded by single line notes through arpeggios, continues to the rule the day, and has been and is the basis of our evolutions over generations.

So if you venture far enough on the jazz path you should eventually bump into the V7b9 chord. Its arpeggio pitches from the 3rd through to b9 builds the fully diminished chord. We'll base many of our chord substitution choices initially on V7, then into the fully diminished chord's properties and capabilities as found within the V7b9 harmony.

What some players do is use the melodic minor grouping as they might use the diminished scale, to create lines over similar harmonic structures, tensions and motions. As we'll see in the following discussion, the symmetrical diminished color is a very bold and recognizable character. Which further down the road, might gradually wear thin on the ears and art for the advancing artist, necessitating a search for something new.

Melodic minor, with its closeness to the major scale interval formula and sound, becomes what I often term a 'softened' substitution choice of the diminished sounds, that when carefully and artfully applied, can retain much of the diminished colors cool essential colortone tensions, without invoking its symmetrical rigidness of construction, character and sound.

Thus, melodic minor is just more of a naturally melodic sounding group for substitution, that hones in closer to the select groups of a particular chords colortones. Here back in the key of 'C' major, in this next idea we grab a snip of the 'C' melodic minor color over V7+5 and resolve to 'C' major. Example 14a.

Cool with the above motion? While we're not really in Kansas anymore, we can begin to see how the theory generates ways to get 'out there' a bit and back home.

Beyond groups of seven pitches. Numerically getting past this seven pitch group finds us very near the edge of our Americana tonal limits. While there's a couple of interesting ways to go theorywise beyond this point, the music generally created and the ways it is crafted, are not something we would ever really hear on the radio, thus go beyond our immediate 'groups' discussions here.

Way beyond. That said, two modern theory methods for 'interesting compositional techniques', that move beyond using our core seven pitches, are often termed '12 tone' and 'serialism.' And while jazz cats will find and use all 12 pitches on a fairly regular basis, the compositional properties of 12 tone and serialism, is just a whole different way to get there. For in this approach to the pitches, we lose our sense of the diatonic center of one pitch, its related tonal center and tonality, the loyalty to a tonic pitch, This 'one pitch to rule them all' essentially bases all our Americana musics and music composed without it, gets marginal play over the airwaves.

wiki ~ 12 tone technique

wiki ~ serialism
~ symmetrical groups of pitches ~

Symmetrical groups of pitches. In our symmetrical groupings, the chromatic, whole tone and diminished groups, we create our scales based on symmetrical patterns of the two core scale building blocks; the half step and whole step. Not generally used as the parent scale in composing, an awareness of each of these three core symmetrical groups is helpful in completing our melodic palettes.

For these three colors often create a bit of color for the perfect line or a single chord to complete our musical puzzles. Survey the Stevie Wonder or Beatles song book and you'll discover bits of these three colors deftly woven into many of pop music's most well recognized, crafted, and loved songs of the last couple of generations.

wiki ~ Stevie Wonder
wiki ~ The Beatles

Parallel motion / constant structure. A rather neat feature of really anything 'symmetrically structured' is its ability to smoothly move up and down the neck by its core intervals, while retaining its 'theoretical' basis and key center relationships. Adding this theory with the built in, linear layout of fretted stringed instruments, and there's some real coolness just waiting to be explored for modern leaning artists.

Symmetrical scale; half steps only. Acquainted with the chromatic scale? Cool. No? Here goes :) Constructed exclusively by the half step interval, the chromatic color is used sparingly in composing, through our style spectrum of Americana musics.

More common is to use chromatic passages, or a half step (chromatic) lead in, to an important note or chord in the music we're playing. Blues and jazz cats do this an awful lot. With good timing and rhythm, using the half step lead in with a chunk of harmony, is one combined super powerful component in getting things to swing. Examine the pitches. Example 15.

chromatic scale formula
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
letter pitches
C
C#/Db
D
D#/Eb
E
F
F#/Gb
G
G#/Ab
A
A#/Bb
B
C

Ain't that a beauty. Well that's all of our pitches folks, well, one octave's worth anyway, our theory granddaddy of em' all, enharmonic equivalents included at no extra charge :) We can not only extract all of our musical elements from this now complete grouping of pitches, we can also create and and all of our musical elements, from each of the 12 pitches. Really ? Yep.

'Anything from anywhere.' The 'whole tamale.'

Here is the chromatic sound with the complete and perfect closure we seek :) Do sing along to check your vocal intonation. Example 15a.

How are your pitches as you sing along? It might take a couple of tries but it'll surely happen. Down the road, do strive to sing this group from just a starting pitch, a capella. No better way to dial in our stereo radar than strengthening up to deliver an accurate a capella vocal rendition of the chromatic scale pitches.

Chromatic scale melodies. Notable written melodies created with the chromatic scale are rather rare in our Americana literature. From 1880's Europe we do import the clearly chromatic constructed melody line titled "Entrance Of The Gladiators." Example 15b.

wiki ~ "Entrance Of The Gladiators"

Remember this line? From carnival days I'm thinking. It is a fairly easy line to quote due to its chromatic nature yes? Pretty much start on any pitch and just move lower while adding in it's rhythms, then back to the melody.

Any chromatic motion = half step. This next chromatic idea finds our melodic 'Coltrane's motiv', ascending by four half steps which resolves into a 'C' major bar chord, which then chromatically continues in chords before finally resolving, by half step, into the key of center 'Eb' major. Example 15c.

Did we just span seven major key centers in four bars? A to Eb is a tritone yes? Six half or three whole steps? Yep. Sense what moving one melody lick or chord shape by half step might do for us? There's bits of this chromatic motion all over the Americana sounds.

Tops on this list is probably the half step lead in, that quick slip of the pitch and fingers to enhance where we land, that we can use somewhere, somehow nearly in every style. Way essential in blues and jazz, this half step lead in might be the 'easiest trick in the book.' Also for those 'chromatically' inclined, there's of course a safety helmet available for adventurous jammings.

~ the symmetrical whole tone color / augmented colors ~

Symmetrical scale: whole step / whole step. We create the whole tone symmetrical grouping of pitches by exclusively employing the whole step interval. Often termed a whole tone scale, we generally associate this melodic group with any of the triads with an altered 5th (b5 / #5). Its character of sound is quite distinct and somewhat hard to tame at times, so just not a commonly used color overall through our Americana songbook.

When we do hear it in well crafted songs, the whole tone color will often create the perfect set-up chord for what is to come. Heard a bit in pop, blues and jazz, whole tone is cool in both the natural major and minor tonal centers. Examine the pitches from the root pitch 'C.' Ex. 16.

scale degrees
1
2
3
#4
#5
b7
8
whole step formula
.
1
1
1
1
1
1
whole tone pitches
C
D
E
F#/Gb
G#/Ab
Bb
C

Simple but rather potent. While our interval formula is quite elementary, its resulting sound and color are anything but. Here are the pitches and a common guitar scale shape for sounding them. Example 16a.

 

In practice. While often handled carefully by composers, improvising composers often come to love the poignancy of the whole tone color in some key spots in the music. In perhaps its most common chord position, here we use the whole tone color over V7+5, in the key of 'F' minor. Example 16b.

Interesting? A new musical color for you ? Read on !

Whole tone chords. With the harmony, the whole tone color is probably more common in the minor keys as depicted just above, as the augmented 5th note of the V7 chord is also the common tone minor 3rd of the tonic chord. Whole tone colors also mix up well with the b9, natural 9 and sharp 9, common dominant chord color tones in blues and jazz. In a major key, a most common spot for the whole tone color is between One moving to Four. Here's both motions, first resolving to a minor key center, then One to Four in major. Example 16c.

Cool? The pure theory gets a bit in the way with the enharmonic spelling of the pitches between the chords but surely the 'D#' of one equals up to the 'Eb' of the other in minor. The motion for augmented 5th in last two bars is chromatic, and lifted right out of the pop song "Because" by the Dave Clark Five, which got to #3 on the charts back in '65.' Great wedding tune, nice payday.

wiki ~ "Because" song
~ the symmetrical diminished color ~

Symmetrical scale: whole step / half step. This pairing of steps combine to create the minor third interval, which we can divide two ways. Commonly known as a diminished or whole tone / half tone scale, its exclusive reliance on the minor 3rd interval places this color towards the farthest edges of our minor hued colors.

Diminished scale formula. Looking to the following chart of letter name pitches, we see the reoccurring interval pattern whole step (1) then half step (1/2) creating the minor 3rd cell. Repeated four times, the formula closes the loop back to its starting pitch. This repeating pattern is the symmetrical basis of the group. Examine the pitch letter names from 'C.' Example 17.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
b5
b6
6
7
8
diminished scale formula
1
1 / 2
1
1 / 2
1
1 / 2
1
1 / 2
letter pitches
C
D
Eb
F
Gb
Ab
A
B
C

And a scale shape. This whole step / half step configuration grouping works fine for creating diminished color melodies over anything diminished. And for guitar, in the brighter tempos of some jazz music, it's often beneficial to have a movable scale shape that naturally lives right under our fingers.

Interesting perhaps is that the symmetrical and theoretical qualities of the diminished group also provides a symmetrical fingering shape, even with the guitar's traditional, unsymmetrical perfect 4th / major 3rd sequence of its 'concert' tuning scheme. Dig the symmetrical diminished scale shape. Thinking 'A' diminished. Example 17a.

Find the symmetry in the scale shape? It surely can follow the four finger / four fret potential for our fretboard hand, thus potentially blaze-o-matic, with the three pitches per string thing too.

Symmetrical scale flips to half step / whole step. In this pairing of whole and half steps steps, we can flip the above symmetry to create half to whole, our second division of the minor 3rd interval. Examine the pitches building from the root pitch 'C.' Example 17b.

scale degrees
1
b2
b3
4
b5
b6
6
7
8
whole step / half step
1/ 2
1
1 / 2
1
1/ 2
1
1 / 2
1
letter name pitches
C
Db
Eb
E
Gb
G
A
Bb
C

The half / whole symmetry group quickly highlights three colotones associated with any V7, a Five chord type. Here thinking 'C'7;

Db = b9 / passing tone / chord color

Eb = #9 / blue note / chord tone

Gb = b5 / blue and jazz note / chord tone

Using the same diminished shape just included above, here is a 2 / 5 / 1 lick featuring this diminished scale shape 5th position, a full run of all the available pitches while resolving towards 'F' major. Example 17c.

Quite a bit of color within just four frets yes? Just jazzing it up? Pretty much.

Compare the two splits. These two divisions of the minor 3rd interval create two 'similar but different' groups of pitches. Examine and compare their letter name pitches. from the root pitch 'C.' Example 17d.

whole / half step pitches
C
D
Eb
F
Gb
Ab
A
B
C
half / whole step pitches
C
Db
Eb
E
Gb
G
A
Bb
C

Shared pitches. From the above chart we can see the shared pitches between these two symmetrical groups. Highlighted in blue, these pitches spell our fully diminished 7th arpeggio and chord, from the root pitch 'C.' So what about the other pitches in the above chart?

The first group is whole step / half step. The second is the half step / whole step construction. These are the two other fully diminished 7th arpeggios. These are built from the roots 'Db and D.' Combining these pitches creates ... ?

Three's a charm. In this next chart, we simply extract the three possible combinations that create our fully diminished 7th arpeggios, which we could stack and sound together to create the fully diminished 7th chords. Note that our pitch 'A' natural is enharmonically entered as 'Bbb', the proper fully diminished 7th interval pitch / letter name as measured from the root pitch 'C.' Ex.17e.

C diminished 7th arpeggio
C
Eb
Gb
Bbb (A)
Db diminished 7th arpeggio
Db
E
G
Bb
D diminished 7th arpeggio
D
F
Ab
B

Numerically we can add all these pitches up and be right back to our ' # of eggs in a dozen', #'s on a clock, pitches of the chromatic scale, i.e., 12. Imagine that, yet again that perfect closure of the pitches :)

Multiple root pitches. Further, that due to the perfect symmetry of the diminished colors minor 3rd intervals, that in each four note group, each pitch can be the root note pitch for the group. And while these arpeggios could be viewed, and are true chord inversions, they also function as root position chords within any song storyline.

So we get the best of both. Root position chords, that perfectly invert themselves every three frets. Examine the pitches and chords within a 'C' diminished 7th chord, rearranged to create the four possibilities. Example 17f.

C diminished 7th arpeggio
C
Eb
Gb
A
Eb diminished 7th arpeggio
Eb
Gb
A
C
Gb diminished 7th arpeggio
Gb
A
C
Eb
A diminished 7th arpeggio
A
C
Eb
Gb

Cool huh? Read the chart left to right or up or down, same results. And the same theory applies to our other two arpeggios from the roots 'Db and D?' Yes absolutely. Examine the pitches, 17g.

Db diminished 7th arpeggio
Db
E
G
Bb
E diminished 7th arpeggio
E
G
Bb
Db
G diminished 7th arpeggio
G
Bb
Db
E
Bb diminished 7th arpeggio
Bb
Db
E
G
D diminished 7th arpeggio
D
F
Ab
B
F diminished 7th arpeggio
F
Ab
B
D
Ab diminished 7th arpeggio
Ab
B
D
F
B diminished 7th arpeggio
B
D
F
Ab

Cool? Perfect symmetry of intervals creates these potentials. Well, we went a bit beyond 'groups' and were heading, yet again, for that whole tamale. That's the coolness of our theory; its own perfect closure of loop creates and endless number of ways to slice and dice the pitches and still end up with whole tamale. And the more of the tamale that turns purple, the more we understand n'est-ce pas? Click the link to the right for more diminished studies discussions.

Other groupings of pitches? There is a major scale / flat 6 group and its minor Four triad to consider. There's a hybrid blues and the Bebop scale. If or when our tuning evolves to include quarter tones new groupings will emerge. There's the 'make-your-ownian' mode with any number and intervals of 12 tones.

Also, we might look to the Near East to explore a music whose pitch theory and tuning retain our earlier, Western tunings before equal temperament. These Eastern traditions 'group' pitches as ragas, as well as rhythms into 'modes.'

There's the global 'folk' community of local musics of a thousand cultures to explore. The internet or 'cable' music is packed with variety. Suffice to say that there's tons of cool to explore for those so inclined.

That's all for this third chapter folks. OK with the idea of groups of pitches? And how they can all be extracted from the chromatic scale? In terms of creating the written and improvised Americana melodies, we surely rely mostly on our two main groupings, the blues and diatonic major / relative minor. Modal and slight pitch variations of these groups, plus our symmetrical scales, round out a common pitch resource we've now used for a couple of thousand years, if not more.

Now that we have established this idea of a group of pitches, we'll use this concept in a couple of ways throughout this text; examining improvisation and creating lines over and through chord changes. Also, in discussing the idea of parent scales, which in reality are simply our 'groups of pitches to create melodic ideas from', with any given triad, chord or harmony.

The idea of groups of pitches will also play a role in our more complex musical techniques such as sequencing, parallel motion, plane-ing or constant structure ideas, all of which also involve pitches and intervals. We'll also use the concept of groups of pitches in more general terms when the idea of a set group of pitches, which forms a perfectly closed and balanced loop, is simply the best way to describe the relationship between the theory and the art we create with it.

So what's next? Now that we have begun to define the exact sets of intervals / pitches we use in crafting Americana musics, our next theory step will be to transform our scale groups into their arpeggios. This becomes the intermediate point between groups and chords, our two main compositional components that energize our musical stories.

"If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants."

wiki ~ Sir Isaac Newton