I found a very interesting way to build a hexatonic (or 6-tone) scale using just two adjacent triads, with no overlapping notes or common tones. Here is the diagram of the six tones from low to high, and a diagram showing how the two triads are complementary and how they are interlocked:
The dulcimer TAB below the notes is for DAD tuning, and the important thing here is to see the 7 – 5 – 4 of the D, and then the 8 – 6 – 5 of the Em. Each triad adds three essential ingredients to the hexatonic scale: there is no overlap. I’ve been using this scale referenced to Em as the tonic chord, so we have: the notes E (Root) – F# (2) – G (b3) – A (4) – B (5) – D (b7).
So for the great round Hey, Ho, Nobody Home–which does an endless cycle of Em / D / –this scale works wonders going consecutively down or up, and in many patterns that can be sequenced over the repeating chords.
I’m just getting started now with a mountain dulcimer oriented blog After some research and reading of some other blogs (as well as reading the excellentWordPress the missing manual, by Matthew MacDonald, I have decided to make a kind of “blog-in-progress” and let the structure and categories gradually sort themselves out.
We’ll see what happens with this. In the meantime, you may want to check out my main web site:
Here is the second version of my 3-page, 96 measure set of half-note guide tones on my rs7 or “OneLife” progression. Measures 33-64 — the whole of page 2 — are my favorites for composing out the structure into a jaunty hornpipe-ish kind of thing. The rest of the modifications on pages 1 and 3 just fixed some of the glaring problems with flow and direction.
I’m making some real headway right now, so I should have something soon that actually sounds like a tune!
Here are 96 measures of half-note guide tones around my rs7 (OneLife) progression. They won’t sound like much if played exactly as written, but if you use your imagination, you can fill in on the quarter and eighth-note levels. I seem to be gravitating toward a lazy hornpipe feel, but it also works as a jig if you pretend the half notes are really dotted quarters
As the article says, these two terms are most often used in pairs, because they mean very different things.
The section on “modern meanings of diatonic scales” is particularly interesting to me, because it confirmed my suspicion that there is no generally agreed convention with regard to whether the melodic and harmonic minor scales should be considered diatonic. They are not in my book, because you can’t play them on a folk harp.
I actually like what the Harvard Dictionary of Music says: basically that diatonic refers to the white keys of the piano. This is where I learned the mode system, and I think most students get it this way too. It’s really fun to hear each of the diatonic “Church Modes” over a Root-5th-8th drone in the left hand.
On the mountain dulcimer, we have to remember that the 6+ fret, which is added to most modern dulcimers, changes the game a little bit, as does playing across the fingerboard as opposed to just going up and down the melody string.