chromatic scale


: a musical scale consisting entirely of half steps

Examples of chromatic scale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The upper limits of baritone range were successfully traveled by Jonathan Nussbaum as the humorously demonic valet, whose one-note recitative slowly, uncomfortably climbs up the chromatic scale with each line. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 June 2023 Resisting this hurry, Jyoti’s voice drags, slips backward down a chromatic scale, stops, changes keys, rises, turns corners and reconsiders. New York Times, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 26 Apr. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chromatic scale.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1789, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chromatic scale was circa 1789

Dictionary Entries Near chromatic scale

Cite this Entry

“Chromatic scale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition

chromatic scale

: a musical scale that has all half steps

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