The Augmented Fourth

I’ve described eleven notes now, and each one has a piano key to go with it, an equal tempered equivalent. The one remaining black key has a lot of names. It’s the note between the 4 and 5, right in the middle of the octave — the tritone, devil’s interval, flatted fifth, augmented fourth. In…

The Major Scale

The notes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, clustered at the center of the lattice, constitute a major scale. This tuning uses the smallest ratios (the ones with the lowest numbers) available for each position in the scale. It goes back at least to Ptolemy in the 100’s AD. I find it visually…

The Major Seventh

The notes get more exotic as you move outward from the center. The ninth is quite consonant, but not nearly as consonant as the fifth. (Consonance and dissonance¬†are descriptions of feelings; they are part of the flavor of an interval, and I don’t think the last word has been written on them yet. I’ll be…

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Notes and Intervals

A note, in music, is a sound with a particular pitch.¬†Pitch is frequency, measured in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz). The faster the vibration, the higher the pitch. A vibration, at, say, 220 Hz, all by itself is a note by that general definition. But the note doesn’t acquire its distinct personality until it’s…