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#2239380 - 03/01/14 06:22 AM Black key octaves in C5-C6 used a lot in Chinese music?
Jayden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
Was just messing and I noticed that playing octaves on the black sharp/flat keys in the C5-C6 area of the piano sounds very distinctly reminiscent of traditional Chinese music; especially when played quickly a couple of times before moving up to the next sharp/flat and doing the same.
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#2239396 - 03/01/14 07:42 AM Re: Black key octaves in C5-C6 used a lot in Chinese music? [Re: Jayden]
kaanguner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/13
Posts: 91
Yeah messing around earlier I noticed the same thing too. Maybe someone knowledgable might gives us some informnation.

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#2239428 - 03/01/14 09:28 AM Re: Black key octaves in C5-C6 used a lot in Chinese music? [Re: Jayden]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
The black keys form what's called a pentatonic scale, which is the basis of the vast majority of "well-known" traditional Chinese music. However, pentatonic scales are used in many other cultures, and even in Classical and Romantic music.
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#2240138 - 03/02/14 01:32 PM Re: Black key octaves in C5-C6 used a lot in Chinese music? [Re: Jayden]
Distortion Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/14
Posts: 2
Loc: New England
That's actually the C# major pentatonic scale. And yes, it is used in some oriental music, also in Celtic music, but pentatonic scales(both major and minor) are used in western music as well; it is used in blues, rock, hymns, classical, and many others genres.

In classical music—I would say— the pentatonic scale began to be more widely used during the romantic era. You can clearly hear it in compositions of Debussy(Clair de lune, Arabesque no.1, etc.)

The major pentatonic scale is just the inonian mode with the omition of the third and seventh degree.


Edited by Distortion (03/02/14 02:17 PM)
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#2241044 - 03/04/14 01:46 AM Re: Black key octaves in C5-C6 used a lot in Chinese music? [Re: Jayden]
kaanguner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/13
Posts: 91
Thanks for sharing.

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#2241061 - 03/04/14 03:06 AM Re: Black key octaves in C5-C6 used a lot in Chinese music? [Re: Distortion]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 979
Originally Posted By: Distortion
The major pentatonic scale is just the inonian mode with the omition of the third and seventh degree.
Actually the scale you are talking about is called the "Yo" scale, and it's common in traditional Japanese music. The major pentatonic scale takes out the fourth and the seventh scale degree. 1-2-3-5-6. On the black keys it would start at F#. Much traditional Chinese music is based on the major pentatonic scale (and as Derulux pointed out, many culture's music, including western music). They may use the same notes, but it all depends on where you start and stop, what is considered the tonic or home base.

So to clarify:
Major Pentatonic: 1-2-3-5-6 or black keys starting on F#
Minor Pentatonic: 1-b3-4-5-b7 or black keys starting on Eb
Yo Pentatonic: 1-2-4-5-6 or black keys starting on C#
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#2241304 - 03/04/14 02:15 PM Re: Black key octaves in C5-C6 used a lot in Chinese music? [Re: Brian Lucas]
Distortion Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/14
Posts: 2
Loc: New England
You are are right. I realized after I posted, but forgot to correct it. Also, I didn't know it was named 'Yo'.

Thanks.
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