Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Origins of the Tempered Musical Scale

The tempered scale consists of 12 notes that have been modified to fit equally over the distance of an octave. Tempered scales make ensemble playing and the creation of instruments that can play a full chromatic scale standardized. Without the tempered scale, intervals would not be equally spaced from each other. A minor second between one scale degree wouldn't be consistent. This would also make the difference between each enharmonic more pronounced as a C# scale would sound slightly different than a Db scale.

The truth is that the tones that are available are much greater than the minimal system of 12 pitches.There are notes in between our minor seconds which are not currently being used. This means that in the future, and this is already beginning to happen, there may exist scales with more than just 12 pitches.

There are various ways to produce these notes on instruments, but there isn’t a set of standard instruments that could play these in an orchestral setting.The first step for these tones to be available is the creation of instruments that can perform them. These "notes between the notes" are called microtones. Several composers have tried to incorporate them in compositions.

Most likely, these new instruments will come in the form of electronic manipulations of sound. In fact, that is one of the effects that electronic music has been able to incorporate so easily into music. Maybe in the future these tones will become more familiar and instrument makers will devise new ways in which to create instruments that can play these tones.When the number of notes in a tempered system is increased, music gets closer to the sounds available in nature.