Home > Music, Music Theory, Psychology > Playing around with the Pentatonic Scale

Playing around with the Pentatonic Scale

I was checking out Skepchick’s blog, (primarily to see what all the hub-bub about the skepchick calendar was about and to preorder my skepdude calendar for Myles come next Xmas) and came upon this video.  The performer in this video remarks at the end that no matter where he performs this act, every audience uses the pentatonic scale.  This seemed odd to me, as the majority of Arab songs are written in the “eastern scale”.  When I was in Morocco, every song used this Eastern or Persian scale; songs on the radio, snake charmers, even people whistling as they walked down the street.  I guess they are raised to hear that scale and hold a preference towards it, but perhaps if the beginning of a pentatonic scale is played, the mind will deduce how the rest of the scale is formed.

I don’t know if I embedded the video correctly, so here’s a link http://vimeo.com/5732745

Update: embedded. -JayAaroBe

  1. JayAaroBe
    2009-07-29 at 09:57:26

    Here are the instructions from WordPress.com on how to embed video from Vimeo (the instructions are the same for pretty much every video site): http://support.wordpress.com/videos/vimeo/

  2. ronular
    2009-08-22 at 17:54:13

    Thanks for highlighting my lack of musical talent! I had to ask a coworker who is not tonally challenged. Cool that you were able to pick that out, in even peoples whistles.

  3. JayAaroBe
    2009-08-23 at 00:17:20

    As far as I know, the reason for people having an affinity for the scale is tied in with the concept of consonance and dissonance. When a note is dissonant, it sounds unstable/temporary, and our brain wants it to resolve into a note that is consonant, which feels stable and comfortable. So when a few notes of a scale are played and if you stop on a note that is dissonant, people will universally have a tendency to “resolve” that note by singing or playing the next note which is consonant. It gives the feeling of “building, building, building….. release!

    Of course, there are a variety of scales that have consonance and dissonance. It would seem logical that if you’re surrounded by a particular type while growing up, that would be your default choice.

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