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#1152962 - 11/09/08 01:48 PM whole tone or whole step - terms?
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
I'm not sure where this question belongs. I know that in Britain there are quavers while in other parts of the English world there are quarter notes. How is it for "tone" and "step"? In discussing intervals, my Canadian theory refers to "tone and semitone". I like using "whole tone" just to be double sure. Recently I was told that this is not the standard term, and that "whole step" and "half step" are correct.
I thought that "step" referred to the physical distance that your fingers travel on instruments such as piano and string instruments, and "tone, semitone" referred to the distance in sound. Actually I never thought about it.
Is it "step" in the U.S. and "tone" in Canada and maybe Britain? In an international community the American terms seem to prevail - I'd like to get it right.

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#1152963 - 11/09/08 09:06 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
8ude Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
The terminology I've always used is whole- and half-step. The only time I used "whole-tone" is when I'm describing the scale consisting of only whole-steps (e.g. c-d-e-f#-g#-a#)
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#1152964 - 11/09/08 10:49 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
currawong Offline
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Loc: Down Under
The English (and Australian) terminology is TONE and SEMITONE for whole and half step. We would use the term WHOLE TONE when talking about the whole-tone scale, for example because to say the scale has six tones might be misunderstood.

What is "standard" depends on where you are. I would consider both to be "correct".

If I could dare to suggest why the American terms seem to prevail in an international forum - I think it's because we quaver and semitone people are more aware of the American system than the Americans are with ours. Perhaps because of all the beginner piano books which have the American system.
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#1152965 - 11/09/08 11:01 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
keystring Offline
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Thank you 8ude and Currawong.

8ude, I had not thought of the "whole tone scale" before. "Half step scale" would sound odd. I did see "half step / whole step scale" in guitar forums, which I think is another name for the octatonic scale. (Doesn't it also have another name? The oct. is the one that has continual minor thirds, and so continual diminished sevenths, I think.)

Currawong - thinking - it's an international forum based in the U.S. but also, we have to be using some kind of terminology and maybe remain consistent so we can understand each other. I've seen both 'quaver' and 'quarter note' used in PW.

I did some googling. Wikki suggests that it is actualy a controversial question. They say that possibly "step" is American, and "tone" belongs to the other countries, but they're not sure.
Wikki article
Bottom footnotes:
Semitone, half step, half tone, halftone, and half-tone are all variously used in sources. Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and others use "half tone". One source says that step is "chiefly US",and that half-tone is "chiefly N. Amer."

The theory book used by the RCM (Canadian) uses the term "tone, semitone", but the practical book for violin refers to "step, half step".

For this reason, I thought that "tone, semitone" referred to the interval as sound, and "step" referred to the distance the fingers take on some instruments such as piano and violin.

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#1152966 - 11/09/08 11:15 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Currawong - thinking - it's an international forum based in the U.S. but also, we have to be using some kind of terminology and maybe remain consistent so we can understand each other. I've seen both 'quaver' and 'quarter note' used in PW.
[/b]
Oh yes, me too. In fact, when I'm talking about quavers and crotchets for example, I'll usually put "eighth notes and quarter notes" in brackets, just to be sure. I personally don't like the quarter note type terminology and it goes against the grain to use it, like spelling favourite as "favorite" \:\) but I'm ok with using both, just for clarity. And also so that people know that there are two systems which are both "correct".
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#1152967 - 11/09/08 11:19 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
currawong Offline
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By the way, I'd known about the half-note, quarter-note terminology for ever, but it's only fairly recently I've realised that Americans don't usually use the terms tone/semitone. I was rather surprised. I'd heard the terms "half-step" etc, but I actually thought it was just a simplified way of describing semitones, perhaps for young piano students.

I tend to always type "bar"(English) instead of "measure"(US) on the forums because, well, it's less typing, isn't it \:\) .
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#1152968 - 11/09/08 11:29 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
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Registered: 12/12/06
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Loc: Denver, CO
Here's a couple of references for terms:

http://www.dolmetsch.com/introduction.htm

http://ninagilbert.googlepages.com/British.html

I'm not sure how accurate some portions of the latter are, especially the section on cadences.

Rich
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#1152969 - 11/09/08 11:51 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
8ude Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:

I did see "half step / whole step scale" in guitar forums, which I think is another name for the octatonic scale. [/b]
Interesting - I've never heard that referred to as a "half-step/whole-step" scale, the only term I'm familiar with for that one is octatonic.
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#1152970 - 11/09/08 11:57 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
daro Offline
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Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 168
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
 Quote:
I tend to always type "bar"(English) instead of "measure"(US) on the forums because, well, it's less typing, isn't it.
Bar and measure seem to be completely interchangeable in the US, with the exception that no-one here, or hopefully anywhere, would ever describe a particular type of music as a "12-measure blues." ;\)

yd

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#1152971 - 11/10/08 12:24 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
 Quote:
I personally don't like the quarter note type terminology and it goes against the grain to use it
You mean that you are a fan of "hemidemisemiquaver?" ;\) Do you think that the words actually affect how one perceives the note?
 Quote:
it's only fairly recently I've realised that Americans don't usually use the terms tone/semitone
Yesterday, for me.
 Quote:
tend to always type "bar"(English) instead of "measure"(US) on the forums
Hey, that's another one I was wondering about. "Measure" sound so sophisticated, though.

What I'm wondering is whether there is any official "standard" of terminology belonging to countries.

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#1152972 - 11/10/08 12:32 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
keystring Offline
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Loc: Canada
DragonPianplayer, thanks for the links. Dolmetsch points out some important things - the difference between "note/tone" and the fact that "tone" can simply mean a sound. I prefer to write "whole tone" instead of just "tone".

Actually the one thing we don't see in the link is usage in Canada (or Australia). We seem to be British for tone/semitone, but American for quarter note etc.

In Canada, we have the additional handicap of being officially bilingual French/English. So you'll be in a choir where some people are accustomed to "do re mi" and the others "C D E".

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#1152973 - 11/10/08 12:41 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
keystring Offline
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I'm lifting this out of DragonPianoPlayer's second link:
 Quote:
American Cadences
British Equivalents

Authentic cadence
Perfect cadence
My Canadian theory book uses both terms. Is it in order to span both countries? Or do we use both terms over here?

(This is getting interesting)

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#1152974 - 11/10/08 12:51 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Gary D. Online   content
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
In fact, when I'm talking about quavers and crotchets for example, I'll usually put "eighth notes and quarter notes" in brackets, just to be sure. I personally don't like the quarter note type terminology and it goes against the grain to use it, like spelling favourite as "favorite" \:\) but I'm ok with using both, just for clarity. And also so that people know that there are two systems which are both "correct".
Do you really prefer hemidemisemiquaver to 64th?

Oops… Just saw that KS mentioned the same thing. (Eerie…)

To me this is like holding on to the US measurements and resisting metrics, which I find infinitely more practical. I mean using metrics!

For semitones or halfsteps, I have no preference. Both seem equally clear. \:\)
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#1152975 - 11/10/08 01:21 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
From Dolmetsch:

Tone/Whole-step, Semitone/Half-step
In Britain, "a tone" (in musical usage) is defined as an interval of a major second. Americans refer to this as a "whole-step".

A semitone is half a tone, the interval of a minor second, one-twelfth of an octave, the smallest interval between two notes on a piano. Americans call this a "half-step".

A major scale consists of the intervals TTSTTTS where T=tone and S=semitone.

PLEASE NOTE THIS AS WRITTEN ABOVE (A major scale consists of the intervals TTSTTTS where T=tone and S=semitone) IS IN ERROR (BP)because the diagramming of 2 tetrachords requires 8 tones being accounted for. (Please read the "What are missing in lessons" topic where I made my last response about what the error was as I see it.)

I am sying this is NOT correct: A major scale consists of the intervals TTSTTTS where T=tone and S=semitone.

It would be nice if we could see and verify what the problem is and maybe even fix it. Is my concern for how this is being inaccurately said being understood?

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#1152976 - 11/10/08 02:06 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:

A major scale consists of the intervals TTSTTTS where T=tone and S=semitone.

PLEASE NOTE THIS AS WRITTEN ABOVE (A major scale consists of the intervals TTSTTTS where T=tone and S=semitone) IS IN ERROR (BP)because the diagramming of 2 tetrachords requires 8 tones being accounted for. ...
I am sying this is NOT correct: A major scale consists of the intervals TTSTTTS where T=tone and S=semitone.
[/b]
TTSTTTS not correct? Or correct? I can't work out from your post which you are saying.

8 notes ARE being accounted for. T and S refer to the distances between the notes. The diagram TTSTTTS really means:
1-T-2-T-3-S-4-T-5-T-6-T-7-S-8, where the numbers are the notes themselves, and the T or S the distance between them.
There are certainly 8 notes there!
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#1152977 - 11/10/08 02:13 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gary D.:
Do you really prefer hemidemisemiquaver to 64th?
... To me this is like holding on to the US measurements and resisting metrics, which I find infinitely more practical. I mean using metrics! [/b]
Yes I do - though I don't find I have much occasion to actually say hemidemisemiquaver \:\) . I suppose it boils down to what you learnt first. I think quarter notes work well when you're explaining time signatures, so you know what that bottom number means, but I have seen some confusion about odd things like "three-quarter time" being somehow not a "whole" bar \:\) . Truly.

I'm with you on the metrics. We've had metrics here for 35 years.
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#1152978 - 11/10/08 02:16 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Gary D. Online   content
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
8 notes ARE being accounted for. T and S refer to the distances between the notes. The diagram TTSTTTS really means:
1-T-2-T-3-S-4-T-5-T-6-T-7-S-8, where the numbers are the notes themselves, and the T or S the distance between them.
There are certainly 8 notes there!
Question to all:

Is there any way to imagine that "T" is not two notes, meaning moving a whole tone or whole step or two keys (both colors) from a starting place?

TTSTTTS

OR

WWHWWWH means to me:

X-2-2-1-2-2-2-1(octave of X)

X is just the starting point…
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#1152979 - 11/10/08 02:26 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Gary D. Online   content
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
Yes I do - though I don't find I have much occasion to actually say hemidemisemiquaver \:\) . I suppose it boils down to what you learnt first. I think quarter notes work well when you're explaining time signatures, so you know what that bottom number means, but I have seen some confusion about odd things like "three-quarter time" being somehow not a "whole" bar \:\) . Truly.
Really? \:\)

OK, stupid question! I say "three quarter" time.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to say:

A dotted 16th is a 16th plus a 32nd.

A dotted semiquaver is a semiquaver plus a semidemiquaver.

Is there even a slight hesitation when you say to a student:

Four crotchets equal a semibreve. That doesn't seem as mathematically precise as "four quarters equals a whole", which is mathematical. I wonder how we (US) inherited the German system, which does the same thing?
 Quote:

I'm with you on the metrics. We've had metrics here for 35 years.
Trust me when I tell you that few people here could tell you how hot it is when it is 25C, or how tall you are if you are 2 meters tall. ;\)
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#1152980 - 11/10/08 02:26 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
keystring Offline
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That is an interesting question, Gary. I must say that in my mind's ear a "tone" is a whole thing, and a "semitone" is a partial thing. But if I had started on piano instead of voice I would probably seen it as two semitones and one semitone. I think it has to do with the solfege, which was my first introduction to music. The solid steps of a ladder with two uneven rungs, but most of the rungs were a whole tone apart. So mentally for me a semitone is like a whole tone that has been split in two.

I think that the semitone might be a more accurate unit to think in. ??

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#1152981 - 11/10/08 02:29 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Gary D. Online   content
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
I THINK that I started out with the concept of a whole step or tone as being more or less that default, with BC and EF being the exceptions. But we get to chromatic scales and movement so quickly at the piano. I describe a minor third as three half steps, but a major third as two whole steps, not four half steps. So I probably flip from system to system, according to what is most handy at the moment. \:\)
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#1152982 - 11/10/08 03:48 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gary D.:

Is there even a slight hesitation when you say to a student:
Four crotchets equal a semibreve.
That doesn't seem as mathematically precise as "four quarters equals a whole", which is mathematical. I wonder how we (US) inherited the German system, which does the same thing?
[/b]
No, there's not even a slight hesitation \:\) . I have to stop and think when I translate it into whole notes and quarter notes, though. I have got a bit better at this through using Finale, where the shortcuts are "q" for quarter note, "e" for eighth etc.

With my littlies, I tend to use Kodaly time-names a fair bit (you know, ta, ta-a, ti-ti.
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#1152983 - 11/10/08 11:03 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
It depends on the context. In the US, you
would say "go up a half-step" or "go
down a half-step." The phrase "go up/down
a half-tone" (or just the term "half-tone")
is avoided in the US in almost all contexts.
Similarly, you would say "go up/down
a whole-step." However, the
term "whole-step" is awkward in adult
speech in the US. This sounds like something you
would say to a child. Thus, you'd might
hear instead, "go up/down a major second."

The term "whole-tone" would not be used
in casual speech, as in "go up/down a
whole-tone." This term would be reserved
for only the most serious theoretical discussions.

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#1152984 - 11/10/08 11:10 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The term "semitone" would not be used
in casual speech in the US, as in "go up/down
a semitone." This term would be reserved
for serious theoretical discussions only.

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#1152985 - 11/10/08 11:12 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
keystring Offline
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Loc: Canada
Thank you, Gyro.

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#1152986 - 11/10/08 11:23 AM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
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Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
This term would be reserved
for only the most serious theoretical discussions. [/b]
Had any lately?
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#1152987 - 11/10/08 05:04 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
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Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Betty,

There are eight notes, but only seven intervals between them.

A tetrachord is WWH or TTS. 4 notes separated by 3 intervals.

The two tetrachords are separated by a W (T).
So it is
WWH W WWH
or
TTS T TTS

Rich
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#1152988 - 11/10/08 07:23 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thank you Rich, I know that.

If you are teaching a young person how to find notes in tetrachord formation it is important to show each and every note of the 8 note tetrachord pattern.

The key note must be included as the starting place.

In key of C, the C is the first and last note to play.

Learning tetrachords is about which note to play - which note sounds - it is not about the distance of the interval between except to help us find the note to play. The notes that gets placed on the music staff in major scale order.

8 is the accountability note.

In teaching someone else, it needs to be explained as I am doing. If you have never taught someone sitting next to you to do tetrachords (and lets ask that you have also taught all 12 degrees as the starting point of the tetrachords, and then written them on the music, or had access to show the written music as the outcome of your work in finding the 8 notes of the tetrachord.

I am asking for accurate work and accurate explanation.

You are leaving out some things if you do not provide what I think is the most important note of the sequence - the keynote.

* W W H is this not a tetrachord?
* W W H is the second tetrachord, yes?
Both are joined together by a whole step.
Joined by a whole step to another tetrachord?

Therefore the formula is:

* W W H *W W W H
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Do you use fingers LH 5 4 3 2 and 5H 2 3 4 5 in teaching the tetrachord from keynote to keynote, or do you count the intervals between with your pointer or your eyes?

Using the fingering for a tetrachord position may enlighten why this is necessary to be explained this way in teaching others to play tetrachords to form the major scales.

C D E F G A B C
5 4 3 2 2 3 4 5 (Fingering Left to Right)

Explore this with the other notes on which a scale could start, and you have achieved what I am saying.

When you take a short cut you do not get all of the instruction or the understanding at one time.

Finding the distances between notes says little (minimum) about how and why one would use my approach.

To teach comprehension, my job is to identify all 8 notes of the major scale using tetrachords, being able to finger them consistently, being able to identify them my name, knowing how to write them on the music, and understanding key signatures and sightreading scales accurately because they have been learned in every potential domain of teaching. (Visual, tactile, Aural.)

I am teaching major scale degrees when I teach tetrachords and I expect the information to last a life time if done properly with a focused student.

So, those who are not in agreement with me, or haven't read my posts about tetrachords, believe me, I am not off in what I am preaching here.

If you would follow through what I am saying, just maybe you would see the difference.

A teacher not knowing or using tetrachords to teach with is really doing injustice to the learning of major scales, and all other scales.

Patterns is what music is built upon, let's teach patterns. Tetrachord being 8 notes, needs 8 notes to discuss the intervals with - it is the 8 notes that are the answers you are looking for.

The tetrachord pattern is the helping device (pattern) to accomplish that. Every major scale needs 8 tones. Thus you need to account for the key note (the first tone you are building upon).

I think this difference in opinion between us is an important one to seriously consider by checking out what I am saying at the piano using the suggested fingering and writing the results of the named notes on paper.

Are we teaching in depth, or are we short-cutting?

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#1152989 - 11/10/08 07:45 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Betty, the fact that someone may not use your notation (the asterisk representing the starting note) does not mean that they are not teaching the concept. I think this is the point.
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#1152990 - 11/10/08 08:16 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13817
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There's also a language problem. A scale does not have 8 "tones" in the British sense of the word. It has 8 notes.

Also, the use of tetrachords seems to be something of a matter of preference among teachers. It's basically a tool for teaching students to find the notes of any given scale. Other teachers simply use the "W W H W W W H" approach just as effectively.

And another matter of language, a 'tetrachord' has four notes in it. The notes in a major scale make up two tetrachords, both of which have the same intervallic content.

I also think it's a mistake to assume that student understanding is dependent upon the method of instruction. Different students understand in different ways. I have seen students' eyes opened by the tetrachord explanation, and I have seen students in the same class become completely confused.

If it was possible for a single explanation to guarantee student understanding, there would be only one theory textbook. No others would be necessary. But teaching theory is often a matter of preference. Just as in piano pedagogy, there are many different flavors of theory pedagogy, all of which are valid when the right students and teachers connect.
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#1152991 - 11/10/08 11:16 PM Re: whole tone or whole step - terms?
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
A teacher not knowing or using tetrachords to teach with is really doing injustice to the learning of major scales, and all other scales.
Oh rot!

I have repeatedly said that I never heard of tetrachords until I watched a college professor, mine, teaching them to other vocal students who had no instrument to relate to physically.

Meanwhile, whose of us who played instruments well all knew all the scales backwards, forwards and upside down. We were bored.

You keep preaching the gospel of tetrachords as if it is the solution to all problems, and you insist that your method of teaching them is the only way.
 Quote:

Patterns is what music is built upon, let's teach patterns.
Good grief, do you think we are all morons? You can't MOVE a whole step without starting somewhere. W to me means to MOVE a whole step, from some point. OK, if you feel the need to put in an asterisk, fine. But there are SO many ways you could use these patterns, creatively.

How about one per key?

F = F G A Bb
C = C D E F
G = G A B C
D = D E F# G

Just learn the first four notes of any scale. Just four. Then combine sets.

F set + C set = F scale.
C set + G set = C scale.
G set + D set = G scale.

This is not rocket science. There are unlimited ways to think about this and combine, morph, play around.

The first four notes always go:

WWH

OR
* W W H

OR
X-2-4-5

OR
X-2-2-1

The METHOD does not matter. It's the pattern itself that matters, and the way people think patterns and internalize them is not the same from person to person. I just throw different solutions at different people, looking for something that makes the quickest and most intuitive connection. The same method most definitely does not work for all people.

Some people count keys but don't make a quick "sound connection". Some people just link sound to keys, at first, and analyze later. Some use key counting *and* sound, from the beginning. But no matter what you do, the tetrachord system is key counting. Everyone does not count the same way.
 Quote:

Are we teaching in depth, or are we short-cutting?
Are we adapting our teaching to individuals, or are we insisting that all individuals adapt to our method?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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