noun \ˈhek-sə-ˌkrd\

Definition of HEXACHORD

:  a diatonic series of six tones having a semitone between the third and fourth tones


hexa- + Greek chordē string — more at yarn
First Known Use: 1730


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In music, a group of six tones in a specified pattern, specifically the interval pattern tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone (as in G-A-B-C-D-E). The hexachord was apparently conceived in the 11th century when theorist Guido d'Arezzo noticed that the scales of the church modes could be seen to overlap in their interval patterns. His system of solmization gave each hexachord the same syllables (ut-re-mi-fa-sol-la), and by means of overlapping hexachords the theorist could represent the complete “gamut” of pitches. Though counterintuitive to modern musicians, who think in terms of octaves, the concept of hexachords was fundamental to music theory throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.


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