I was wondering the historical origin of the diatonic/chromatic scale and how it ended up looking the way it does now in our equal temperament system. And whats the difference between chromatic and diatonic from a historical point of view? I've read that the chromatic scale is relatively recent but I've also read that the ancient Greeks used something called chromatic tetra-chords if I have not completely misunderstood.

I would love it if someone could give me an overview of historical events that led us to the diatonic/chromatic scale.

  • I just want to point out that this answer would be very long and in-depth given any bit of appropriate care. However, an extraordinarily concise theme that each generation inherits what the previous had and tries to "do better" with it, whether it be to please God with consonance or incite emotion with dissonance. I will point out that what we have now is as transient as everything before it, and there's no guarantee that future generations won't prolifically use quarter tones or, perhaps in the aftermath of global war, go back to the church modes and try to eschew any dissonance whatsoever :) – LSM07 May 5 '18 at 23:58

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