Mathematics, Music

Why does our musical scale have twelve notes?

So you see, by getting into all that Jazz music, I do notice that my knowledge about music theory is a bit sketchy. I especially have trouble counting quickly between different tones. I need this to figure out how to form a chord.

Say, I want to C Major chord. I know that I need the Prime, Major Third and Major Fifth for that. I just learned that to be C, E and G. I can recall this pretty quickly now, but that’s only because I have memorized the combination of root note and interval.

When I want to do the same thing in A# I start getting in trouble, because I don’t have a list for that in my head. This thing just doesn’t scale up! (and I’m lazy) There has to be some other way of doing these calculations quickly and use it as a basis for improvisation?

My strategy at the moment is trying to use semitones and give them numbers. That way, I can use my primary school algebra to get me my numbers. Afterward I will convert them back into notes. Let’s see how that should work:

Music notes table

An overview of all the notes in the twelve-tone scale

We have to memorize this table and then we can use it to calculate chords more easily.

Hmm, this sounds like a good task for this week.

During my search to better understand music, I came across an interesting article. I mean, why are there 12 notes in our scale anyway? Turns out, there seems to be a curious mathematical coincidence has given us a scale that is not perfect, but (apparently) as good as it gets. Check it out:

Twelve-Tone Musical Scale

“More musings on music theory my man!”, you say. Well, more will surely follow.

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