twelve minor scales

The various raisings and lowerings of notes in advancing keys, major and minor. - In each fifth of the majors ascending the top of the dominant is raised a comma. A40 in the key of C becomes A40 1/2 in the key of G; E60 in the scale of G is E60 3/4 in the scale of D; B90 in the scale of D is B91 1/8 in the scale of A. This alteration of the top of the dominant major goes on through all the twelve scales. Similarly, by the Law of Duality, each fifth in the minors descending has the root of the subdominant lowered a comma. D54 in the key of E minor is D53 1/2 in the key of A; G72 in the scale of A is G71 1/9 in the scale of D; C48 in the scale of D is C47 11/27 in the scale of G. This alteration of the root of the subdominant goes on through all the twelve minor scales. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 62]

The simple natural scale is the fifth; the compound natural scale is the octave; the harmony scale, or chord-scale, is the three fifths; the great genetic scale is six octaves; for, like the six creation days, it takes the six octaves to give birth to the elements of which the wondrous structure of our music is built up; the birthplace of B, the seventh of the octave scale, is the sixth octave of the great genetic scale. The area of the twelve major and twelve minor scales is twelve fifths or seven octaves, the twelfth fifth being a comma and the apotome minor in advance of the seventh octave. This is a quantity so small that it can be ignored in real music; and the two notes, say E# and F, joined to close the circle of this horizon of our music world. E# is the top of the twelfth fifth, and F is the top of the seventh octave; and they are practically, though not exactly mathematically, the same note. Illustrations of this will be found among the plates of this work. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 79]

The Plate shows the Twelve Major and Minor Scales, with the three chords of their harmony - subdominant, tonic, and dominant; the tonic chord being always the center one. The straight lines of the three squares inside the stave embrace the chords of the major scales, which are read toward the right; e.g., F, C, G - these are the roots of the three chords F A C, C E G, G B D. The tonic chord of the scale of C becomes the subdominant chord of the scale of G, etc., all round. The curved lines of the ellipse embrace the three chords of the successive scales; e.g., D, A, E - these are the roots of the three chords D F A, A C E, E G B. The tonic chord of the scale of A becomes the subdominant of the scale of E, etc., all round. The sixth scale of the Majors may be written B with 5 sharps, and then is followed by F with 6 sharps, and this by C with 7 sharps, and so on all in sharps; and in this case the twelfth key would be E with 11 sharps; but, to simplify the signature, at B we can change the writing into C, this would be followed by G with 6 flats, and then the signature dropping one flat at every new key becomes a simpler expression; and at the twelfth key, instead of E with 11 sharps we have F with only one flat. Similarly, the Minors make a change from sharps to flats; and at the twelfth key, instead of C with 11 sharps we have D with one flat. The young student, for whose help these pictorial illustrations are chiefly prepared, must observe, however, that this is only a matter of musical orthography, and does not practically affect the music itself. When he comes to the study of the mathematical scales, he will be brought in sight of the exact very small difference between this B and C♭, or this F# and G♭; but meanwhile there is no difference for him. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 108]


The middle portion with the zigzag and perpendicular lines are the chromatic chords, as it were arpeggio'd. They are shown 5-fold, and have their major form from the right side, and their minor form from the left. In the column on the right they are seen in resolution, in their primary and fullest manner, with the 12 minors. The reason why there are 13 scales, though called the 12, is that F# is one scale and G♭ another on the major side; and D# and E♭ separated the same way on the minor side. Twelve, however, is the natural number for the mathematical scales as well as the tempered ones. But as the mathematical scales roll on in cycles, F# is mathematically the first of a new cycle, and all the notes of the scale of F# are a comma and the apotome minor higher than G♭. And so also it is on the minor side, D# is a comma and the apotome higher than E♭. These two thirteenth keys are therefore simply a repetition of the two first; a fourteenth would be a repetition of the second; and so on all through till a second cycle of twelve would be completed; and the thirteenth to it would be just the first of a third cycle a comma and the apotome minor higher than the second, and so on ad infinitum. In the tempered scales F# and G♭ on the major side are made one; and D# and E♭ on the minor side the same; and the circle of the twelve is closed. This is the explanation of the thirteen in any of the plates being called twelve. The perpendicular lines join identical notes with diverse names. The zigzag lines thread the rising Fifths which constitute the chromatic chords under diverse names, and these chords are then seen in stave-notation, or the major and minor sides opposites. The system of the Secondary and Tertiary manner of resolution might be shown in the same way, thus exhibiting 72 resolutions into Tonic chords. But the Chromatic chord can also be used to resolve to the Subdominant and Dominant chords of each of these 24 keys, which will exhibit 48 more chromatic resolutions; and resolving into the 48 chords in the primary, secondary, and tertiary manners, will make 144 resolutions, which with 72 above make 216 resolutions. These have been worked out by our author in the Common Notation, in a variety of positions and inversions, and may be published, perhaps, in a second edition of this work, or in a practical work by themselves. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 115]

See Also

minor mode
minor scale
Ramsay - PLATE VIII - The Mathematical Table of Majors and Minors and their Ratio Numbers
twelve major scales

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Friday January 1, 2021 04:23:10 MST by Dale Pond.