1) By ageometricprogression, with any number of equalintervals, such as
the common Western mode, the Equal Temperament with 12 semitines aand other numbers.
A geometric progression is a sequence in which each term (after the first) isdetermined by multiplying the preceding term by a constant. This constant is calledthe common ratio of the arithmetic progression. The octave sequence is also ageometric progression; so is the golden section.
2) Byproportionswith low number ratios, E.g.. Just Intonation with itstriads of major Thirds, or by other harmonic relations to the tonic (Modalmusic), E.g.. Pentatonic or Septonic (E.g. Indian music).
System of proportions are used in Modal music, E.g. the harmonic mean and thearithmetical mean in the division of an octave.
3) BygeneratingFifths, E.g. Pythagorean Tuning or The Chinese Scale.
There are hybrids too, such as the. Mean tone Temperaments.
The habits of hearing
The reason there are so many different ways to divide the octave and displaysuch a bouquet of scales, can be found in the fact that there are no formulathere can fit the octave perfectly - unless some notes or keys sounddisharmonious. The different ratios expressed in numbers are prime inter-related so acommondivisor is not possible in an octave.Different musical traditions embrace this schism depending of what theyconsider best fit for their musical expression. The culture in which themusical scale has emerged is a profound reflection of that particularlyculture.The Eastern music tradition consider the fine tuned intervals of much moreimportance than the Western, which prefer harmonious chords in any keyfirst. Consequently there are intervals which are perceived consonant in theWest but are considered dissonant in the East.What it comes down to is habits. A musical scale is deeply ingrained. Itshapes the way one hears tones in succession in a fixed pattern. There has tobe at least three elements for a definition of a mode, just as three notes areneeded to define a chord.In the modulatingcyclicsystems, where very sound is mobile, it isnecessary to repeat the "body of harmony", (tonic, fifth or fourth and octave)in order to establish the meaning or mood of the note, but in themodal system one note alone, by changing its place, can produce the effect of achord.