The Architecture of Music

Organizing Scales

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Using The Perfect Symmetrical Scales to Organize Scales

During research of scales it became apparent that all 2,048 possible scales could not be diagrammed within a single book. And at some point in time, only a few scales had to be chosen so the books would not become overwhelming. But which scales? Using the circle of fifths, many scales were found to be exceptionally resonant, making them virtually impossible to play.

For instance, the Whole-Step scale (next page) has a space in between every single note around the circle of fifths. Thus, no note in the scale has a harmonic relationship with any other note. For this reason, this scale can be considered one of the most, if not the most, resonant scales. Try playing it, no traditional harmonic chords can be played with this imperfect/symmetrical pattern. We would need to explore new and different chords that contain no harmonic relationships to play it.

Since there are so many possible scales (most of which being imperfect/asymmetrical), the five perfect/symmetrical scales were used to begin a larger logical order in which to place the 1,816 possible scales. In other words, all scales are seen as variations of the five perfect/symmetrical scales. The diagram on the next page uses the circle of fifths and a logical ordering system to organize scales in relationship to each other. It is the complete list of scales contained within The Architecture of Music series and represents most of the scales that have ever been used in the entire history of Western music. Organizing scales into a single chart should aid in the exploration of scales by visually describing what they will sound like as well as begin to describe how to play them.

All scales stand independent from style, genre, and rhythm. They are diagrammed here to be used by you in whatever way you see fit. These 42 scales should keep you occupied for some time. In fact, one could spend the remainder of their musical career exploring just these scales in music and sound.

Remember, no scale ever stands alone, and each scale has a number of modes equivalent to the number of notes within that scale. If we could move through the diagram on the following page three dimensionally, we could begin to describe all the modes of these scales. And as we continue this logical method of variation, we begin to describe a larger harmonic organization of all chords and scales. Though this scale list is incomplete and only represents 16% of all the possible scales, it is the beginning of the greater organization of scales. What is most interesting though, is that most of the scales in the chart are variations of the five perfect/symmetrical scale, meaning the entire history of Western music is based on variations of the five perfect/symmetrical scales.

Perfect/Symmetrical Scales List