In the world of music, scale holds a vital position in shaping the essence, mood, and tonality of a composition. Just as the key determines the overarching framework, the scale represents a subset of musical characteristics that further refine the melodic landscape.
Scales are like musical patterns or sequences of notes. They provide a framework for creating melodies and harmonies. Scales follow specific patterns of steps or intervals between notes, creating different musical flavours.
For example, the major scale sounds cheerful and uplifting, while the minor scale has a more sombre or introspective quality.
Traditional handpans are manufactured in a certain key and scale, limiting the instrument to a singular musical landscape. The Lumen Handpan is the latest evolution of the handpan with acoustic and electronic features for musicians to explore a vast array of scales and open up a world of creative possibilities.
In this article, we delve into the significance of scale in music, its influence on mood and tone, and how the Lumen Handpan empowers musicians to craft their unique musical map.
What is a Music Scale?
A musical scale is the grouping or ordering of specific notes that work in combination to form a fundamental key with a certain mood, emotion, or sound. Songs in the major scale are typically happy & uplifting. Songs in the minor scale are typically emotional & thought-provoking.
There are many other scales to discover that cover the widest array of musical moods.
Some of the most popular scales and modes (being variations of the original scale) include:
- Natural Minor
- Pentatonic Major
- Pentatonic Minor
- Mixolydian (mode)
- Dorian (mode)
- Phrygian (mode)
What is a Music Key?
A key can be regarded as an individual note, or tone, that makes a specific sound in a certain pitch, and which becomes the basis for the rest of the notes, chords, and scale of a music piece.
When more than one key is played simultaneously, that starts to represent a chord, which is when 2 or more keys are played together.
Understanding Scales on a Handpan:
Traditional handpans are manufactured in a specific scale and specific key.
The result is a unique and beautiful percussion instrument that provides a canvas for playing through a singular musical landscape, as it is tuned to a specific sound.
The most popular scale on a handpan (/hand pan) is the minor scale, typically D3 Minor (being the key of D in the 3rd octave). Handpans can however be tuned to a wide array of scales and keys, typically between B2 and F6, and ranging across the full spectrum of known scales from Major and Minor to Mixolydian and Amara.
The Significance of Scale in Music:
A scale represents a specific sequence of musical notes within an octave, defining the fundamental framework upon which melodies are built. Each scale possesses its own unique pattern of intervals, contributing to its distinctive character and emotional impact.
Whether it’s the major scale with its uplifting and joyful quality, the minor scale with its melancholic and introspective nature, or the exotic scales that transport us to distant lands, each scale has its own voice in the realm of music.
The choice of scale profoundly influences the mood, tone, and feeling of a melody or composition. Major scales tend to evoke a sense of brightness, happiness, and optimism, while minor scales often evoke emotions of sadness, introspection, and longing.
Exotic scales, such as the Phrygian dominant or the Mixolydian b6, create a unique and adventurous atmosphere.
The Interplay of Scale and Key:
Scale and key are interconnected elements in music. While the key represents the overarching tonal centre, scale refines the melodic landscape within that key.
This interplay between scale and key allows for endless variations and artistic expressions, ensuring that each musical piece becomes a unique sonic journey.
Unlocking the Scale on a Handpan:
The Lumen Handpan is the latest evolution of the traditional handpan, and includes professionally recorded samples of handpans and percussion instruments in different scales and keys.
One of the most sought-after features of the Lumen Handpan is the ability to change the scale of your handpan instrument, at any time while you are playing.
Our audio processing makes it possible to change the layout of the notes on the tapping pads by adding, removing, or rearranging notes automatically, into your scale of choice.
By changing the scale on the Lumen Handpan, musicians can infuse different tonal colours and textures into their compositions while maintaining the tonal framework of the key.
Examples of Scale in Music:
The scale of a song directs the emotional range and tone of the song.
To illustrate with examples, here’s a list of 10 popular scales, with 5 popular songs for each:
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles
“Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
“Clocks” by Coldplay
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
Natural Minor Scale:
“Hotel California” by Eagles
“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica
“Blackbird” by The Beatles
“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
Pentatonic Major Scale:
“Wonderwall” by Oasis
“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
“Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty
Pentatonic Minor Scale:
“Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin
“The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King
“Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains
“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
“Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana
“Stormy Monday” by T-Bone Walker
“I Can’t Quit You Baby” by Willie Dixon
“Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
“Sweet Home Chicago” by Robert Johnson
“Crossroads” by Cream
Harmonic Minor Scale:
“Malagueña” by Ernesto Lecuona
“In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg
“Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles
“Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig van Beethoven
“Asturias” by Isaac Albéniz
Melodic Minor Scale:
“Autumn Leaves” by Joseph Kosma
“Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones
“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
“Autumn Leaves” by Joseph Kosma
“Fly Me to the Moon” by Bart Howard
“Scarborough Fair/Canticle” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Oye Como Va” by Santana
“Moondance” by Van Morrison
“So What” by Miles Davis
“Scarborough Fair” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream
“Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band
“No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley
“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
“All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix
“Spanish Caravan” by The Doors
“Symphony of Destruction” by Megadeth
“Children of the Damned” by Iron Maiden
“Enter Sandman” by Metallica
“Miserlou” (Pulp Fiction Theme) by Dick Dale