location of the half steps
If by examining the various loops of the melodic groupings of pitches, i.e., ( scales / modes ) in regards to the location of the half steps in their intervalic construction as locked into the equal tempered system, can we get a potentially clearer sense as to their overall tonal color? Well... This is very subjective to say the least, but I started this process years ago to try and better understand the relationship of the church modes as created from the major scale / Ionian mode. It did help me in understanding and using the various modal colors within equal temper and since then I've applied this idea to other resources.
So to start this search, locate the "built in" half steps in the graphic of a piano keyboard which follows. Example 1.
Look familiar? The absence of a black key between the pitches E and F and B and C dial in the location of the half steps for the C major scale / C Ionian mode. This equal tempered tuning the of pitches and location of the half steps as created by a well tune piano is in essence the foundation of our present day musical resources right?
So, what about scales without half steps? Well, they don't apply here of course, and there is only one we commonly use, but the vast majority of our melodic resources do. Isn't the half step interval the one that creates the leading tone? Exactly, and as we examine various groups for the half step, we discover some rather "non leading tone" half step possibilities within, and is it these half step points within the scale that seems to zero in on creating the particular color, emotional character of the group? Again, big stretch of ideas, but as food for thought and exploration, perhaps worth a closer look. The following melodic ideas simply zero in on the half steps, looking to invoke the color and character of each of the seven church modes.
Major scale / Ionian mode. Example 1.
Dorian mode. Example 2.
Phrygian mode. Example 3.
Lydian mode. Example 4.
Mixolydian mode. Example 5.
Natural minor / Aeolian mode. Example 6.
Locrian mode. Example 7.
Other scales worth examining for their half step properties? Harmonic and melodic minor are possibilities. Of course the diminished color, with it's multiple half steps. Your call.
The blues scale perhaps? Alternating the minor and major third is quite common with blues specialists. Example 8.
So perhaps at some point in your shedding, examine your favorite groups of pitches and look for the half steps within it's construction and noodle around these points in the pitches and see what shakes loose for you. Oh, what about the half step lead in? Are you hip?
|Where to next?|
Other artistic concepts in this section? How about artistic techniques?
Knowing what you can do creates opportunities... Sharon Elliott