The Scale Degrees have these names for a reason. It get’s its name from being an interval of a 5th (dominant) below the tonic. Since then he's been working to make music theory easy for over 1 million students in over 80 countries around the world. The most important note in a scale is the 1st degree and it’s called the tonic. Scale Degree Names. This is a great article. The first scale degree is called the tonic. In music theory, the term scale degree refers to the position of a particular note on a scale relative to the tonic, the first and main note of the scale from which each octave is assumed to begin. Download my free eBook with all my favourite music theory resources. The degrees of a scale But, each scale degree has a special name too which are sometimes referred to as the technical names of the scale. Although this is a handy way to remember, it’s not actually why it’s called the subdominant. The tonic is the tonal center of a key; it … If you or someone you know would like to author some of the tutorials, please let me know by sending a message to me via the feedback form. The dominant always wants to resolve to the tonic and so a lot of harmony revolves around the dominant chord. Thanks Dan, this is a well explained and informative piece; answered all my questions. When referring to notes of a scale, we number them as the degrees of a scale. Example 2 shows these Scale-degree Names applied to an A♭ major scale, with half- and whole-steps labeled:. We’re going to jump a few notes ahead now to the next most important note in a scale which is the 5th degree called the dominant. To practice memorizing these, try taking the Scale Degree Names Quiz. Anthony, Your email address will not be published. This technical name comes from a Latin word which means ‘middle’. 1st - Tonic; 2nd - Supertonic; 3rd - Mediant; © Hello Music Theory 2020 | All rights reserved | Sitemap. All of the other technical names are the same. Thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions get in touch! He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. The word Sub means ‘below’ and it’s where we get words like submarine or subway from. One way you can remember this note is that it’s one note below the dominant, and so is the subdominant. The 2nd degree of a scale is called the supertonic. Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 10 years helping thousands of students unlock the joy of music. The first note is the 1st degree, the second is the 2nd degree and so on as shown below. An A♭ major scale with Scale-Degree Names. Feel free to tell me what you think about the topics covered or give ideas for new tutorials that you would like to see added. The first note is the 1st degree, the second is the 2nd degree and so on as shown below. These names apply to all major and minor scales. It’s called the super tonic because the word super means ‘above’ in Latin and so you can think of it as being the note ‘above‘ the tonic. The most important functions to understand are those of scale degree 1 (tonic), scale degree 5 (dominant) and scale degree 7 (leading tone or subtonic, depending on whether you are in major or minor, respectively). It’s definitely worth learning them, especially if you’re taking a music theory exam. It’s the same super from which we get the words supervisor from (someone who is above you) or superb (something that is above your expectations). For now, it is good to know the names. Every major and minor scale has 8 notes. We could number them 1-8, but this would get confusing when we start to talk about other numbers such as beats in a bar, chord numbers and fingering for instruments such as piano or guitar. It’s also where the name ‘tonic triad’ comes from as it’s a triad chord based on the tonic. You might wonder why it’s called the middle note as it’s not even close to being the middle of a scale but it get its name from when we form a triad chord. The 8th degree of the scale doesn’t have its own name as it’s actually just the tonic but an octave higher. You might be wondering why, and it’s because of the same reason that the subdominant gets its name. If possible could you provide a more detailed explanation of the function of each or the degrees Relative to their degree name, ie what does the sub dominant resolve to? Welcome to Hello Music Theory! Lastly, we have the 7th degree which is called the leading note or sometimes it’s called the leading tone. But, each scale degree has a special name too which are sometimes referred to as the technical names of the scale. Degrees are relative to the major scale. Your feedback is valuable! The 6th degree of the scale is a 3rd (mediant) below the tonic. Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published. It’s where we get the name of each scale from. The names of the degrees of the scale are used a lot in music theory and will come up a lot when talking about chords. For this reason a flattened 7th note is called the subtonic. The second is the Supertonic, the third is the Mediant, fourth is Subdominant, fifth is the Dominant, sixth is the Submediant, and last the seventh is the Leading Tone or a Subtonic in a minor chord. The 6th degree of the scale is called the submediant. If you have any questions that weren’t covered here post a comment below. Any seven note scale (diatonic scale) begins with the tonic, and other degree names are based on their position in relation to the tonic. Therefore, each degree of the scale is given a technical name: If you try playing a major scale you’ll notice that the 7th note sounds like it wants to lead us back to the tonic. The first and eighth scale degree are given the name of Tonic. Degrees are useful for indicating the size of intervals and chords and whether they are major or minor. Each note in a scale is called the degree of the scale depending on how many pitches away it is from the first note of the scale. For questions, please ask via the feedback form. Authors are compensated. I’m Dan and I run this website. We'll learn more about what those functions are in more advanced tutorials. When building a triad chord we use three notes: the 1st, 3rd and 5th degrees of a scale. It’s also where we get the name for the 4th degree of the scale which is the subdominant. Example 2 shows the notes of the A ♭ major scale in order. As we covered in our beginner’s guide to musical scales post here, a scale is a group of notes arranged in ascending or descending order of pitch. Second Scale Degree: Supertonic It is also known as the keynote because it is the most pivotal note in the scale. When referring to notes of a scale, we number them as the degrees of a scale. Example 3 shows the notes of the A♭ major scale out of order, with Scale-degree Names:. The names relate to their function and to their position to each other on the scale, for example the Tonic is the primary tone, the Subdominant is below the Dominant, and the Leading Tone "leads" to the Tonic. The tonic is the first note of any diatonic scale. In this post, I’m going to look at the different names of these degrees and how they got their names. And how does that resolution relate to it being called the sub dominant? Now we’ll take a look at each scale degree name in a bit more detail. Up next we have the 3rd degree of a scale which is called the mediant. Scale Degree Names. List of musical scales and modes Name Image Sound Degrees Intervals # of pitch classes Lower tetrachord Upper tetrachord Use of key signature usual or unusual 15 equal temperament: 15-tet scale on C. We'll learn more about what those functions are in more advanced tutorials. All of the scale degree names we’ve covered so far are from a major scale. It’s the same distance below the tonic as the dominant is above the tonic – a perfect 5th. Each note in a scale has a name that matches its function. It’s called this because it usually leads into the note above (the tonic). Example 3. The 3rd (the mediant) is in the middle of the 1st and 5th notes which is why it’s called the mediant. To author a tutorial or quiz, only written content is needed. These names apply to all major and minor scales. Each note in a scale has a name that matches its function. Why is it important that we think of the sub dominant a 5th below the tonic? Answers nearly all the questions I had. For now, it is good to know the names. Graphics and audio will be created by me based on your instructions. beginner’s guide to musical scales post here, An Overview Of The 20th Century Music Era, 7th degree – The leading note (or leading tone). These individual notes are called degrees of the scale. Example 2. Even though it may seem a bit confusing at first there is a reason each one is called what it is. Just remember that the 2nd degree is above (super) the tonic, and so is called the supertonic . This means that you just start again and carry on counting the degrees from the 1st again. It’s in the middle of the tonic and the subdominant. It’s also sometimes called the keynote as this note tells us what key we’re in. The natural minor scale is ever so slightly different though as the 7th degree of the scale is an interval of a tone (whole step) below the tonic instead of a semitone (half step) like the leading note.
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