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That's pretty much the question. Thanks. --Otis

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closed as off-topic by luser droog, Matthew Read Jul 21 '13 at 0:57

  • This question does not appear to be about music practice, performance, composition, technique, theory, or history within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This question appears to be off-topic because it must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the concepts being named. It appears to be little more than throwing words together. "What would the such a juxtaposition seem to mean?" Answering that (and describing any difficulty encountered) is the sort of effort we're looking for. –  luser droog Jul 19 '13 at 6:37
I don't think this question is anymore off-topic than the gobbledygook you just needlessly spewed onto the otherwise useful page of this site. Take a hint. Stay off the air, and stick your commentary where it belongs: nowhere! –  Otis Gilchrist Jul 19 '13 at 9:43
I retract my negative response. I'm sure, luser droog, you, the same as I do, have the best interests of this site at heart. What say, we agree to be helpful and constructive only. Thank you, friend. –  Otis Gilchrist Jul 19 '13 at 10:54
Agreed. I was trying to copy the language from other sites, and to give you more explanation. But it probably is gobbledygook. :( I sometimes try to squeeze too much into a few sentences. .... But take a look at the hover text over the voting buttons. "Effort", "usefulness" and "clarity" are the criteria we're supposed to use in voting. –  luser droog Jul 19 '13 at 18:28
Oh, okay, I see now (having hovered over the voting button). I should have given thorough background in the text box beneath my question headline; that is, background that showed I had put research effort into the question before posting. Sorry that I was quick on the trigger. I will try hard to mind my manners next time. Thank you, luser droog! –  Otis Gilchrist Jul 19 '13 at 22:27

2 Answers 2

Notes cannot be diatonic and chromatic simultaneously. This is like asking if a cat can also simultaneously be a dog. Since this does not occur (with the notable exception of Catdog,) the same may also be said for music theory.

Diatonic refers to pitches within a scale - such as a major / minor scale

Chromatic refers to all 12 chromatic pitches

If you were cheeky you could try and make the point that a chromatic scale is diatonic within itself, but it is a flimsy technicality at best and of course excludes the contingency of a tonal center. A chromatic scale might have a pitch center or pitch cell but it won't have a tonal center.

From here onward there could be endless discussion about which scales fall into which category; of which everyone would argue their own case.

In practical tradition, diatonic refers to and applies to the most common scales. Everything else is gray, and the chromatic scale does not apply.

This wiki article offers some further discussion and definitions for each terms.

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Okay, I'm not going to beat (no pun intended) a dead horse. I happened to be studying diatonic, vs. chromatic. The D note, for example, is found both in the diatonic C Major Scale and the chromatic scale. In this sense, the note is both diatonic and chromatic (versus, like, a D#, which is only chromatic when referring to the C Major Scale). But then, I suppose I'm trying to compare apples and oranges, as the two terms (diatonic and chromatic) define distinctly different contexts--to the point that one could not say a particular note is both diatonic and chromatic simultaneously. –  Otis Gilchrist Jul 19 '13 at 10:43
@OtisGilchrist Diatonic and chromatic are terms for groups of notes as the interval between them defines what we call them. So a single note is a particular multiples of some frequency neither chromatic nor diatonic. –  user1306 Jul 19 '13 at 12:38
Hey guys, don't forget how this all falls apart in atonal, 12 tone music, by definition each note has equal importance. –  filzilla Jul 19 '13 at 18:40

A note is Diatonic when it is part of the key you are in. There are lots of ways to use the term chromatic... so

Usually within a key someone will say a note is chromatic when it doesn't come from the scale. Such as when using a secondary dominant chord.

When studying late-classical/romantic music you see the use of "chromaticism", which describes using notes/chords from outside your diatonic scale, often modal borrowing.

If you speak melodically, a diatonic note can be a part of a chromatic run or passage but is only chromatic melodically/linearly and at the time of the specific passage, not harmonically.

I'm sure we could find more ways that a note could be diatonic and chromatic at once but in reality they are often used to distinguish between each other. To say something is chromatic means that it is not diatonic.

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