Oftentimes when a movie is expressing Asian culture, the first five notes of a pentatonic scale (usually in CM) plays in the background, sometimes preceded by a gong. I am wondering why this is and as to where/when/how the scale made its first appearance as an 'Asian' thing?

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    Can you link to some examples? To me, the clichéd whole tone association is with dream sequences, rather than Asia. – topo morto May 3 at 22:30
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    Ha! It wasn't the entire whole-tone scale I was talking about, more like a penta-whole-tone-scale. I'll change it. – Annie May 4 at 0:03
  • From Wikipedia: "Most Chinese music uses a pentatonic scale, with the intervals (in terms of lǜ) almost the same as those of the major pentatonic scale". Googling "pentatonic Asian music " returns 258.000 results. – Your Uncle Bob May 4 at 0:14
  • Thanks, I'll take that part out and clarify my question a bit more :) – Annie May 4 at 0:17
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    Some links would till be good. I've tried playing the first five notes of a whole-tone scale up and down the guitar and it really doesn't remind me of anything I'd commonly associate with Chinese culture (even in a 'film cliché" way). There is a different pentatonic scale which genuinely is one of the main features of Chinese music: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_musicology#Scale_and_tonality. Of course Chinese music isn't the only Asian music, and I've definitely noticed lazy directors using music from one Asian country with scenes from another! – topo morto May 4 at 7:54

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