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das monde:
My understanding from your diaries is that major keys are more harmonic (their intervals represent "smaller" fractions), aren't they?

It's interesting that you can split the scale into equal steps without breaking anything too badly, so it could just be that there's a tendency to pick the first X ratios which can be distinguished by a typical listener and can be made practically distinct on an instrument.

If you try to work with a finer split you get more notes than people can hear, can play, can write, and can be bothered to remember.

So scales will tend to have a small number of notes - 5, 7, 12 - modified by local rules about ordering, ornaments and intonation, which will give each scale its flavour. Scales based on harmonics seem to be the most natural, but others are possible, and the exact ratios will always be a little fuzzy, and not quite perfect physics.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:06:42 AM EST
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