I am currently analysing Variation 12 of the Mozart Piece called "Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman". One of the questions I am doing says to "Describe the chromatic scale and whether it is ascending or descending". I'm just a bit confused about what this actually means. Is ascending or descending just referring to the contour of the piece?

1 Answer 1


Before I looked at the sheet music, my answer was to describe how oftentimes the accidentals of the chromatic scale tell you its role. An ascending chromatic scale will use raised pitches (sharps with some naturals if there are flats in the key signature) while a descending chromatic scale will use lowered pitches (flats with some naturals if there are sharps in the key signature). This is just a practical matter to prevent too many accidentals, as shown in the image below; don't the first four measures look much cleaner than measures 5--8? It's the difference between using (in this case) 5 accidentals as opposed to 10.

enter image description here

But then I looked at the sheet music, because I couldn't remember exactly which variation was the twelfth one. Now I say: Whoever asked you this question could have asked it much, much more clearly. I'm even wondering if it's actually meant for Variation XII, as this question seems to apply to Variation X a bit better.

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    "...as this question seems to apply to Variation X a bit better." It would apply even better still to the second half of Var. VIII (the minor-key contrapuntal variation). There are chromatic notes in Vars X and XII but it doesn't make much sense to describe them as any type of scale IMO.
    – user19146
    Aug 4, 2016 at 20:20
  • As a 'newbie', I would say the first example is in, the C Chromatic Scale. The Second example, is the same Scale, in the 'En-Harmonic Equivalent'. C# is equal to, and the same as, D flat. Oct 3, 2016 at 21:44

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