3

Typically when describing a scale its very typical to describe the pattern in terms of semitones and tones or half steps and whole steps as follows:

A major scale is a diatonic scale. The sequence of intervals between the notes of a major scale is:

whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half

Source

But there are scales like the harmonic minor and Phrygian dominant that have an augmented second interval which goes beyond the typical semitone and tone or half step and whole step and create situations like this:

The sequence of steps comprising the Phrygian dominant scale is:

half – augmented second – half – whole – half – whole – whole

Source

So is there a better term to use in place of augmented second in these situations?

  • 1
    Maybe semiditone? – Tom Sep 21 '15 at 0:48
5

I think it's probably the best term. In A minor, for example, the step between the 6th and 7th notes is a second. F to G. When this changes, in harmonic minor, it's stretched to F and G#, the interval is still a second, but is now called an augmented second. It certainly won't be a minor third ! If the letter names remain the same, but the gap is widened, it's augmented. But you knew this already, Dom, I'm sure.

4

A Whole-and-a-half step. For example, a harmonic minor sequence of steps goes as follows:

W, H, W, W, H, WH, W

Where W = Whole step, H = Half step and WH = Whole-and-a-half step

Source

  • One of the Wiki tables used + for the augmented step. But that's a symbol, not a term. – hpaulj Sep 21 '15 at 5:06
3

I agree that the combination of "half", "whole", and "augmented second" is not very satisfactory. An alternative would be to use

1/2, 1, and 1 1/2

or

0.5, 1, 1.5

instead. I've definitely seen this before, at least the first version, but I can't remember the source right now.

1

I present some alternative ways to describe a chord or scale (assuming 12-note temperament). When dealing with intervals bigger than a tone (like your agumented second), I prefer the integer notation to avoid confusion.

A pitch class set describes the notes when voiced in closed position as integers in number of semitones away from the root note.

  • Major Scale: 0,2,4,5,7,9,11

An interval pattern describes the relative intervals, either in integers or other symbols in semitones between each note in closed position.

  • Major Scale: 2,2,1,2,2,2,1
  • Major Scale: T–T–S–T–T–T–S
  • Major Scale: W-W-H-W-W-W-H

But there are scales like the harmonic minor and Phrygian dominant that have an augmented second interval which goes beyond the typical semitone and tone

Harmonic Minor:

  • pitch class set: 0,2,3,5,7,8,11
  • interval pattern: 2,1,2,2,1,3,1

Phrygian Dominant:

  • pitch class set: 0,1,4,5,7,8,10
  • interval pattern: 1,3,1,2,1,2,2
0

Occasionally, as an abbreviation of sorts for "augmented second", I've used "leap". "Leap" covers that pretty well, as long as you don't need to be very specific, and so I'll use that occasionally when I know I'm talking to people who know what I mean. Wouldn't advise it for beginners, though.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.