This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Semitones)
This article is about the musical interval. For the printing method, see halftone.
It has been suggested that Minor second be merged into this article or section. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2012.
Inverse major seventh (for minor second); diminished octave(for augmented unison);augmented octave (fordiminished unison)
minor second or diatonic semitone; augmented unison and diminished unison or chromatic semitone
16:15 or 25:24
24 equal temperament
In Pythagorean tuning.) See Interval (music)#Number for more details about this terminology. is the smallest musical interval commonly used in Western tonal music. "semitone" refers to a family of intervals that may vary both in size and name. they differ by the Pythagorean comma of ratio 531441:524288 or 23. seven of them are diatonic. e. This implies that its size is exactly or approximately equal to 100 cents. In twelve-tone equal temperament all semitones are equal in size (100 cents). It is defined as the interval between two adjacent notes in a 12-tone scale (e.2 cents). while the other five are chromatic. from C to C♯). a distinction is made between a diatonic semitone. see below. a whole tone or major second is 2 semitones wide. a twelfth of an octave.g. A semitone.g. and it is considered the mostdissonant when sounded harmonically. In quarter-comma meantone. For further details. any interval can be defined in terms of an appropriate number of semitones (e. and 76.2 cents).7 cents (Pythagorean apotome).7 cents) and 27:25 (133. Asymmetric five-limit tuningyields chromatic semitones with ratios 25:24 (70. and the other five are chromatic. In other tuning systems. but are not the same thing in meantone temperament.Just intonation 112 or 71 Minor second Play (help·info). e. from C to C♯).1 cents wide. and diatonic semitones with ratios 16:15 (111. a major third 4 semitones.2 cents (Pythagorean limma). In music theory.5 cents. where the diatonic semitone is distinguished from and larger than the chromatic semitone (augmented unison. 12-tone scales tuned in just intonation typically define three or four kinds of semitones. These are enharmonically equivalentwhen twelve-tone equal temperament is used. with ratio 256:243 or 90. they differ by the lesser diesis of ratio 128:125 or 41.1 cents. Contents [hide] 1 Minor second 2 Augmented unison .g. In a 12-note approximately equally divided scale. with ratio 2187:2048 or 113. and 117. and a perfect fifth 7 semitones. seven semitones out of twelve are diatonic. or minor second (an interval encompassing two staff positions. also called a half step or a half tone.g. For instance.7 cents) and 135:128 (92.0 cents wide. from C to D♭) and achromatic semitone or augmented unison (an interval between two notes at the same staff position.
Its inversion is the major seventh (M7.3 Well temperament 4. . It also occurs in many forms of the imperfect cadence.2 Equal temperament 4. The minor second occurs in the major scale. Listen to a minor second in equal temperament (help·info).4 Pythagorean tuning 4. or +7). 3 History 4 Semitones in different tunings o o o o o o 4. (mi (E) and fa (F) in C major). Here. it appears as the falling of the subdominant to the mediant. which is a tone 100 cents sharper than C. It is also called the diatonic semitone because it occurs between steps in the diatonic scale. and is of particular importance in cadences.1 Meantone temperament 4.6 Other equal temperaments 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading Minor second The melodic minor second is an integral part of most cadences of the Common practice period. middle C is followed by D♭.5 Just intonation 4. The minor second is abbreviated m2 (or −2). Melodically. In the plagal cadence. and between the seventh and eighth degree (ti (B) and do (C) in C major). this interval is very frequently used. wherever the tonic falls to the leading-tone. In the perfect and deceptive cadences it appears as a resolution of theleading-tone to the tonic. and then by both tones together. between the third and fourth degree.
Bach's Prelude in C major from the WTC book 1. Frédéric Chopin's Étude Op. No. For instance. Augmented unisons often appear as a consequence of secondary dominants. . 5 opens with a melody accompanied by a line that plays fleeting minor seconds. More recently. 47–49. the interval usually occurs as some form of dissonance or a nonchord tone that is not part of the functional harmony. mm. This kind of usage of the minor second appears in many other works of theRomantic period. the minor second can add a great deal of character to the music. 25.S. mm. 102 No. This eccentric dissonance has earned the piece its nickname: the "wrong note" étude. and in many added tone chords.Harmonically. These are used to humorous and whimsical effect. Augmented unison Augmented unison on C. the music to the movie Jaws exemplifies the minor second. such as those in the soprano voice of thissequence from Felix Mendelssohn's Song Without Words Op. It may also appear in inversions of a major seventh chord. 3. The opening measures of Frédéric Chopin's "wrong note" Étude. A harmonic minor second in J. which contrasts with its more lyrical middle section. The minor second may be viewed as a suspension of the B resolving into the following A minor seventh chord. In unusual situations. 7–9. such as Modest Mussorgsky's Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks.
the interval produced by the augmentation. an augmented unison very frequently occurs when proceeding to a chromatic chord. does not occur between diatonic scale steps. because the interval of the diminished unison does not exist. E. Though it would later become an integral part of the musical cadence. E♭. augmented unisons are quite rare in tonal repertoire. This is because a unison is always made larger when one note of the interval is changed with an accidental. Its inversion is the diminished octave (d8. but instead between a scale step and a chromatic alteration of the same step. Guido of Arezzo suggested instead in his Micrologus other alternatives: either proceeding by whole tone from a major second to a unison. Melodically. F. In the example to the right. written enharmonically as D. Harmonically. Franz Liszt's second Transcendental Etude. It is also called a chromatic semitone. of the perfect unison. a diminished seventh chord. e. The augmented unison is also the inversion of theaugmented octave. The augmented unison is abbreviatedA1. . measure 63. or widening by one-half step. regardless of harmonic underpinning. each having moved a whole tone. D. such as Iannis Xenakis' Evryali for piano solo. Its use is also often the consequence of a melody proceeding in semitones. such as a secondary dominant. or aug 1. (Restricting the notation to only minor seconds is impractical. or an augmented sixth chord. or dim 8). Here E♭ was preferred to a D♯ to make the tone's function clear as part of an F dominant seventh chord. History The semitone appeared in the music theory of Greek antiquity as part of a diatonic or chromatic tetrachord. D♯ . harmonic augmented unisons are frequently written in modern works involving tone clusters.g. The various modal scales of medieval music theory were all based upon this diatonic pattern of tones and semitones. and the augmented unison is the result of superimposing this harmony upon an E pedal point. and it has always had a place in the diatonic scales of Western music since. In addition to this kind of usage. or an occursus having two notes at a major third move by contrary motion toward a unison. G . Liszt had written an E♭against an E♮ in the bass. in the early polyphony of the 11th century this was not the case. as the same example would have a rapidly increasing number of accidentals. F♭. A ). F♯.The augmented unison.
the tonal harmonic framework was fully formed. Its function remained similar through the Classical period. By the 16th century. there is only one. and found other uses for the semitone. no “tendency was perceived of the lower tone toward the upper. The second tone was not taken to be the ‘goal’ of the first.”  A dramatic chromatic scale in the opening measures of Luca Marenzio's Solo e pensoso. the half step was avoided in clausulae because it lacked clarity as an interval. The . sometimes even appearing as an augmented unison in very chromatic passages. composers such as Arnold Schoenberg. By the Baroque era (1600 to 1750). see: passus duriusculus. In the 20th century. however. the early piano works of Henry Cowell). and pianto. Meantone temperaments have two distinct types of semitones. The composer was free to write semitones wherever he wished. in the 16th century the repeated melodic semitone became associated with weeping. These cadences would become a fundamental part of the musical language. enharmonic equivalence was a commonplace property of equal temperament. beginning in the 13th century cadences begin to require motion in one voice by half step and the other a whole step in contrary motion. and though it was used more frequently as the language of tonality became more chromatic in the Romantic period. Some composers would even use large collections of harmonic semitones (tone clusters) as a source of cacophony in their music (e. the musical function of the semitone did not change. Semantically. as the irrational [sic] remainder between the perfect fourth and the ditone . Semitones in different tunings The exact size of a semitone depends on the tuning system used. having no resolution. and the various musical functions of the semitone were rigorously understood. but in the exceptional case of Equal temperament. Instead.g. 1580. the semitone had become a more versatile interval. even to the point where the usual accidental accompanying the minor second in a cadence was often omitted from the written score (a practice known as musica ficta). By now. ca.” In a melodic half step. Béla Bartók. ( Play (help·info) However. and Igor Stravinsky sought alternatives or extensions of tonal harmony.“As late as the 13th century the half step was experienced as a problematic interval not easily understood. Often the semitone was exploited harmonically as a caustic dissonance. and instrumental use of the semitone was not at all problematic for the performer. or of the upper toward the lower. Later in this period the adoption of well temperaments for instrumental tuning and the more frequent use of enharmonic equivalences increased the ease with which a semitone could be applied. lament bass.
0 1006. There are many approximations.2 E♭ 310. because its circle of fifths has no break. but there is more flexibility for the musician about whether to use an augmented unison or minor second. This is a ratio of 21/12 (approximately 1.6 A 889.1 117. Meantone temperament In meantone systems. To cite a few: suggested by Vincenzo Galilei and used by luthiers of the Renaissance. and chromatic semitones come from one that does.1 117.7 B♭ B C 1200. All diatonic intervals can be expressed as an equivalent number of semitones. Pythagorean tuning.1 117. which makes an unbroken circle of 31 fifths.3 E 386. there are two different semitones. suggested by Marin Mersenne as a constructible and more accurate alternative. 0 76.unevenly distributed well temperaments contain many different semitones. or 100 cents. discussed below). For instance a whole tone equals two semitones.0 C C♯ 0.4 F♯ 579.3 F 503.9 117.6 G♯ 772. and is 11.0 76. Each semitone is equal to one twelfth of an octave. This results because of the break in the circle of fifths that occurs in the tuning system: diatonic semitones derive from a chain of five fifths that does not cross the break.1 117. Equal temperament 12-tone equal temperament is a form of meantone tuning in which the diatonic and chromatic semitones are exactly the same. allowing the choice of semitone to be made for any pitch. but in other systems of just intonation there are many more possibilities. to the equal-tempered semitone. the chromatic and diatonic semitones are 76. has two. In the common quarter-comma meantone. The chromatic semitone is usually smaller than the diatonic.1 117.1 117. used by Julián Carrillo as part of a sixteenth-tone system.5 G 696. rational or otherwise. Chromatic semitone Pitch Cents Diatonic semitone 76.8 1082. similar to meantone tuning.1 cents wide respectively.31tone equal temperament is the most flexible of these. tuned as a cycle of tempered fifths from E♭ to G♯.7 cents narrower than the 16:15 ratio (its most common form in just intonation.0 76.0 and 117. .0 76.1 Extended meantone temperaments with more than 12 notes still retain the same two semitone sizes.0 D 193.0 76.05946).
Pythagorean apotome as seven just perfect fifths. Pythagorean apotome on C. Well temperament was constructed so that enharmonic equivalence could be assumed between all of these semitones. each key had a slightly different sonic color or character. in these systems. Play (help·info).For more examples. Every semitone in a well temperament has its own interval (usually close to the equal-tempered version of 100 cents). Play (help·info). and whether they were written as a minor second or augmented unison did not effect a different sound. Pythagorean tuning Pythagorean limma on C. beyond the limitations of conventional notation. . and there is no clear distinction between a diatonic and chromatic semitone in the tuning. Instead. Well temperament There are many forms of well temperament. but the characteristic they all share is that their semitones are of an uneven size. see Pythagorean and Just systems of tuning below. Pythagorean limma as five descending just perfect fifths from C (the inverse is B+).
and functions as a diatonic semitone in aPythagorean tuning. Pythagorean tuning is a broken circle of fifths. these semitones are rational. It is  or It can be thought of as the difference between four perfect octaves and seven just fifths.Like meantone temperament. and is often called the Pythagorean limma. It can be thought of as the difference between three octaves and five just fifths.) play (help·info)). Also. and functions as a chromatic semitone in aPythagorean tuning. It is also sometimes called the Pythagorean minor semitone. the chromatic semitone is larger than the diatonic.2 cents. It may also be called the Pythagorean apotome the Pythagorean major semitone. (See Pythagorean interval. in contrast to diatonic and chromatic semitones in meantone temperament and 5-limit just intonation. It is about 90. This creates two distinct semitones. but because Pythagorean tuning is also a form of 3-limit just intonation. The Pythagorean chromatic semitone has a ratio of 2187/2048 ( about 113. Just intonation 16:15 diatonic semitone. The Pythagorean diatonic semitone has a ratio of 256/243 ( play (help·info)). The Pythagorean limma and Pythagorean apotome are enharmonic equivalents (chromatic semitones) and only a Pythagorean comma apart. .7 cents. unlike most meantone temperaments.
 e..0416. between D♭ and D: .. Two other kinds of semitones are produced by 5-limit tuning.7 cents. or minor. or major. or larger limma.. (approximately 111." An augmented unison in just intonation is another semitone of 25:24 ( play (help·info)) or 1. The 12 semitones produced by a commonly used version of 5-limit tuning have four different sizes. 'Larger' or major limma on C Play (help·info). e. or smaller.g.7 cents). chromatic semitone. since it is the difference between a perfect fourth andmajor third ( ). A chromatic scale defines 12 semitones as the 12 intervals between the 13 adjacent notes forming a full octave (e. or major chroma.16:15 diatonic semitone Play (help·info). and can be classified as follows: Just. or a flat to indicate a note is lowered 70. It is the difference between a 5:4 major third and a 6:5 minor third. (approximately 70.7cents).g. This is a practical just semitone. chromatic semitone. between E♭ and E: Larger. "the sharpest dissonance found in the scale. called the just diatonic semitone.0666.. and is.7 cents. Composer Ben Johnston uses a sharp an accidental to indicate a note is raised 70.g. The 16:15 just minor second arises in the C major scale between B & C and E & F. A minor second in just intonation typically corresponds to a pitch ratio of 16:15 ( play (help·info)) or 1. from C4 to C5).
Just.g. but it lies on the boundary between the minor and major second (150. between C and D ♭: Larger. Finally. and S4 only once. while Harry Partch used the latter as part of his 43-tone scale. Under 11-limit tuning. although the former was often implemented by theorist Henry Cowell.g.6 cents). while the inner semitones differ by the diaschisma(2048:2025 or 19. between A and B♭: The most frequently occurring semitones are the just ones (S3 and S1): S3 occurs six times out of 12. S1 three times. but most of them are impractical.6 cents). There is also a smaller septimal chromatic semitone of 21:20 ( play (help·info)) between a septimal minor seventh and a fifth (21:8) and an octave and a major third (5:2). e. e. In 7-limit there is the septimal diatonic semitone of 15:14 ( play (help·info)) available between the 5-limit major seventh (15:8) and the 7-limit minor seventh (7:4). the Pythagorean semitones mentioned above). or smaller. The smaller and larger chromatic semitones differ from the respective diatonic semitones by the same 128:125 diesis as the above meantone semitones. Other ratios may function as a minor second. S2 twice. In just intonation there are infinitely many possibilities for intervals that fall within the range of the semitone (e. diatonic semitone. Both are more rarely used than their 5-limit neighbours. or minor. The smaller chromatic and diatonic semitones differ from the larger by the syntonic comma (81:80 or 21.6 cents). or major. diatonic semitone. .5 cents). the outer differ by the greater diesis (648:625 or 62. there is a fairly common undecimal neutral second (12:11) ( play (help·info)).g.
2 cents (help·info)). the major diatonic semitone is 15:14 or 119. their musical function is not the same as the two meantone semitones.7 cents (help·info)) See also List of meantone intervals List of musical intervals Approach chord Major second Neutral second Pythagorean interval Regular temperament . 15:14 would usually be written as an augmented unison. tuning systems that match these just intervals closely will also distinguish between the two types of semitones and match their just intervals closely. These distinctions are highly dependent on the musical context.4 cents ( Play (help·info)).7 cents (help·info)) and 7 ( steps of its scale. For instance. 53-ET has an even closer match to the two semitones with 3 and 5 steps of its scale while 72-ET uses 4 ( play 66. In general. Other equal temperaments 19-tone equal temperament distinguishes between the chromatic and diatonic semitones. and the minor diatonic semitone is 17:16 or 105.3 cents (help·info)). which become 2 and 3 steps of the scale.In 17-limit just intonation. 31-tone diatonic semitone is two ( equal temperament also distinguishes between these two intervals.0 cents. play 116. the chromatic semitone is one step of the scale ( play 63. and just intonation is not particularly well suited to chromatic usage (diatonic semitone function is more prevalent). respectively. and the play 126. functioning as the chromatic counterpart to a diatonic 16:15. because the two semitones can be viewed as the difference between major and minor thirds. and the difference between major thirds and perfect fourths. in this tuning. Though the names diatonic and chromatic are often used for these intervals.
2005. Mississauga. 19." 2. Sound: An Elementary Text-book for Schools and Colleges. and that halftone is "chiefly N. I. [Indianapolis. ^ Day and Pilhofer (2007). Amer. p. Michael. 4. "Since lowering either note of a perfect unison would actually increase its size. ^ Semitone. Aaron Copland. Barbara (2010). 6. Elementary Rudiments of Music (2nd ed. Music Theory for Dummies.". "There is no such thing as a diminished unison. p. . you are adding half steps to the total interval. half tone.References 1." 7. 17. ^ Capstick. Music: In Theory and Practice. the perfect unison cannot be diminished. Andrew. ^ Benward & Saker (2003). IN]: Alpha. ISBN 978-1-55440-283-0. ISBN 0-7645-7838-3. Leonard Bernstein. ON: Frederick Harris Music. Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians. Cambridge University Press. ^ Kostka and Payne (2003). Karen Farnum Surmani. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0. and half-tone are all variously used in sources.21.54. Tonal Harmony. 3. p. Morton Manus (2009). p.113. Specific example of an A1 not given but general example of perfect intervals described. John Walton (1913). Vol. ^ Miller. half step. 5. "There is no such thing as a diminished unison. 135: Alfred Music Publishing. ISBN 007-285260-7. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory." 8. halftone. because no matter how you change the unisons with accidentals.). p. ISBN 0-7390-3635-1.  One source says that step is "chiefly US". 2nd ed. pp. ^ Wharram. ^ Surmani. only augmented. 153. p. ISBN 159257-437-8. and others use "half tone".
p. p. p. 1990. pp. Robert O. ISBN 0-415-12411-5. ^ Paul. Oscar (1885). Vol. G. digitized Feb 26. Routledge. p. Dave (2006). Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. No. Theodore Baker. ". Harmony. 10.the 25/24 ratio is the sharp (#) ratio. 2008). Princeton University Press: Princeton.454. Carl. 14. 2 (Summer. Music: A Mathematical Offering. Gjerdingen. ISBN 0-521-85387-7.. p. Volume 2.325. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. 106–137. "Ben Johnston's Extended Just IntonationA Guide for Interpreters". 2 (Summer. 1991).6 cents.this raises a note approximately 70. ISBN 1-41021920-8. A manual of harmony for use in music-schools and seminaries and for self-instruction. p. Harvard University. 15. 106–137. Ebenezer (2004). Schirmer. No. 11. Volume 30. ^ John Fonville.109. ^ Royal Society (Great Britain) (1880.369.. Perspectives of New Music.9. 12. trans. 17. trans.. "Ben Johnston's Extended Just IntonationA Guide for Interpreters".) (1996).. p. ^ Hermann von Helmholtz (1885).109. pp. 29. Roshdi (ed.588 and 608. ISBN 0-691-09135-8. p. On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music. 1991)." 16. . 13. ^ Rashed. ^ Prout.165. Studies in the Origin of Harmonic Tonality. Perspectives of New Music. Vol. 29. ^ John Fonville. ^ a b Dahlhaus. ^ Benson.531.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.