7

In a major key, we have names for all seven scale degrees:

  • Tonic
  • Supertonic
  • Mediant
  • Subdominant
  • Dominant
  • Submediant
  • Leading Tone

To this we can add the subtonic, scale-degree ♭7 that rests a whole step below tonic instead of the leading tone's half step. We might also say that we colloquially refer to ♭2 as the Neapolitan scale degree.

I'm wondering if there are names (however rarely used) for other altered scale degrees. Scale-degree 6, for instance, has two common forms, yet to my knowledge we call them both "submediant."

This reaches a point of diminishing returns very quickly—surely there's no name for the raised third scale degree in major, since that's just enharmonic to the subdominant—so I'm mostly curious on whether common alterations like ♭3 or ♭6 have specific names.

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  • As far as I know, no. That said, I don't know very far. :)
    – user45266
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 3:43
  • Wonder if the answer lies in the term 'scale degrees'. Sub-tonic is found in natural minor, mediant is the third degree of either major or minor scale. Sub=under, so 'sub-mediant' isn't making sense as no.6, although in your list, shouldn't 6 be 'sub-mediant?
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 10:03
  • @Tim Yes, error on my part that I've now fixed. Thanks! But since 7 changes and we have different names for that scale degree, I'm wondering if we have names for the two forms of 3 and 6, as well. Those do appears in scales.
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 10:44
  • I'm guessing not - as mediant refers to both 3rd degrees in maj. and min. And sub-mediant refers to both notes in mel.min. Confusing, and theorists really ought to have that one covered...Flat mediant? Diminished mediant? Time for a christening!
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 10:52
  • @Richard the chromatic 6th note is often described as dur-moll (for raises six in minor) or moll-dur (for lowered 6 in major). Not sure if this fits the criteria of your question however.
    – 11684
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 15:00

2 Answers 2

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The Greek prefixes hypo- (literally below) and hyper- (literally above) are attached to those technical scale degree names to denote the lowering (hypo) or raising (hyper) of the scale degree by one-half step.

For example,

enter image description here

p.iv A Treatise on Harmony with Exercises: Part 1 Joseph Humfrey Anger, January 1, 1906 Boston Music Company

1
  • I'd never heard of this source, so the quirkiness makes me like it even more. But the hypo- and hyper- prefixes seem so obvious now; thanks!
    – Richard
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 5:04
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In Music Theory and Composition: A Practical Approach, Steven Stone names the forms of the 6th scale degree as "lowered submediant" and "raised submediant", but does not extend that logic to name an alteration to the 3rd scale degree as "lowered mediant".

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