chromatic scale


Definition of chromatic scale

: a musical scale consisting entirely of half steps

Examples of chromatic scale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Resisting this hurry, Jyoti’s voice drags, slips backward down a chromatic scale, stops, changes keys, rises, turns corners and reconsiders. New York Times, "Freddie Gibbs was always weirder than we thought.," 11 Mar. 2021 Under its dictates, a musical work must deploy all 12 notes of the chromatic scale in precisely equal proportion throughout, foregoing the stable tonal center that had underpinned Western music for centuries. Margalit Fox, New York Times, "Jacques-Louis Monod, Modernist Composer With a Lyrical Touch, Dies at 93," 2 Oct. 2020 The quick march returns, but this time a dramatically slow rising chromatic scale for woodwinds, brass and strings brings the emotional level to its zenith with the last climactic repeat of the trio melody. Barrymore Laurence Scherer, WSJ, "A Joyful Song of Proud Tradition," 4 Sep. 2020 The band’s lawyers argued that what little the two songs had in common — a chord progression and a descending chromatic scale — were musical elements too basic to be protected by copyright. Ben Sisario, New York Times, "Led Zeppelin Prevails in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Appeal," 9 Mar. 2020 At the 2016 trial, Led Zeppelin’s lawyers argued that what little the two songs had in common — similar chord progressions and a descending chromatic scale — had popped up in music for over 300 years. Ben Sisario, New York Times, "Original or Copied? ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Is Back in Court," 22 Sep. 2019 The overture began promisingly, sedate and serene — with the Pilgrim’s Chorus theme, which returns near the end in the brasses, played over quiet, downward chromatic scales in the strings. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "Review: A New ‘Tannhäuser’ Brings Burger King to Bayreuth," 26 July 2019 One method, the Von Luschan chromatic scale, invented 36 different categories by comparing skin color to opaque colored tiles. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Pinterest Wants to Diversify Your Search Results," 26 Apr. 2018 Now, rather than being limited to the five digits that evolution has given us, a pianist could playing by issuing mental instructions to 12 virtual fingers, one for each note on the chromatic scale (all the white and black keys in an octave). R. Douglas Fields, Scientific American, "Wristband Lets the Brain Control a Computer with a Thought and a Twitch," 27 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chromatic scale.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chromatic scale

circa 1789, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of chromatic scale was circa 1789

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Last Updated

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chromatic scale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for chromatic scale

chromatic scale

chro·​mat·​ic scale | \ krō-ˈma-tik- \

Kids Definition of chromatic scale

: a musical scale that has all half steps

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