Roger brushing a guitar

Roger the Blogger

 

My name is Roger and I’ve been an amateur musician since junior high. Sounds like introducing myself to people at some 12 step program. Maybe it is. I also have a home business repairing stringed musical instruments, although I have been doing less and less of that, by choice. I’ve made guitars and learned to play quite a few instruments, playing some of them reasonably and some poorly. I have an advanced degree and know something about chemistry, physics, and electronics.

From about 1995 to 2004 I played violin, mandolin, and pennywhistle with the Tucson Friends of Traditional Music’s Slow Jam, its successor, and one spinoff.  At the Slow Jam I met Catherine and limell’. They introduced me to the Mount Lemmon Marching Mandolin Band, and later to the String Bean Folk Orchestra (SBFO).  In 2009 I joined the SBFO, playing a banjo tuned an octave below the mandolin. Lately I’ve been playing violin III and clarinet.  After a layoff of about 30 years, I’m back on woodwinds. Yay!

In 2010, Catherine started Minute2Minute (M2M), with me on clarinet, bass clarinet, penny whistles, and, lately, ocarina. I have begun typesetting music by computer and arranging a few pieces for performance by both M2M and the SBFO.  Maybe we’ll introduce the tarogato. (I have one, and can play it, but you should Google tarogato to figure out what it is. For that matter, you should Google the ocarina.)

Some of what I will write in this blog concerns the technical aspects of musical instruments.  Some will be background into the history and evolution of musical styles, and some will be music theory.  I do not claim to be a musicologist, but I know how to do research and how to be skeptical about what I read, especially on the internet.  I will present literature references for my source materials and will indicate which are my conclusions and which are those of the experts.

 

 
 
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Descriptions of Some Musical Scales. Part 1

M2M plays many pieces in unusual, minor, exotic sounding scales. In order to understand the differences among, say, Klezmer scales or Andalucian scales, and Major scales, we’ll look at how they are constructed, beginning with Major and proceeding to the more exotic

 

My opinion is that keeping track of the "semi-tones" between intervals is easier than learning all the scales by rote, or whether or not the 3rd and whatever steps are flatted. If you are serious, you should learn both the semi-tone and flatted interval methods.

M2M plays many pieces in unusual, minor, exotic sounding scales. In order to understand the differences among, say, Klezmer scales or Andalucian scales, and Major scales, we’ll look at how they are constructed, beginning with Major and proceeding to the more exotic. We’ll stick to musical scales based on western ideas of 12-tone chromatic scales (no micro-tones).

Major Scale The familiar Major scale ascends and descends using the same notes. Starting on C, playing only the white keys on the piano, these would be C,D,E,F,G,A,B,(c). Starting on D, these would be D,E,F#,G,A,B,c#,(d). We’ll put “interval” numbers on them as 1 to 8 and look at the number of semi-tones between them. A semi-tone is the smallest separation between notes on the piano. I’ll also use part of the convention that upper case letters signify a lower octave and lower case letters signify a higher octave. See pianoscales.org

C Major Scale:     C,     D,     E,     F,     G,     A,     B,    (c).
Interval:                1,     2,      3,     4,      5,     6,      7,    8
Semi-tones:              2       2    1     2      2      2      1.

Another example:

D Major Scale:     D,     E,    F#,    G,     A,     B,     c#,    (d).
Interval:                1,      2,    3,      4,      5,     6,      7,      8
Semi-tones:              2       2      1       2      2      2       1.

Natural Minor Scale The familiar natural minor scale ascends and descends using the same notes as its “relative” major scale, but starts at a different place in the sequence. For instance, A Natural uses only the white piano keys but starts and ends on A. (A is the 6th or VIth step of the relative Cmajor scale – see the diagram above). You will also see this described as “the same notes as Amajor with the 3rd, 6th, AND 7th flatted”. (That's what the b means in the diagram below.)  See pianoscales.org/minor.html#natural


Feature 2

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Feature 3

M2M plays many pieces in unusual, minor, exotic sounding scales. In order to understand the differences among, say, Klezmer scales or Andalucian scales, and Major scales, we’ll look at how they are constructed, beginning with Major and proceeding to the more exotic.



 

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