Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
mcm

Chromatic Vs Diatonic

Recommended Posts

can someone please explain in layman's terms the diff between chromatic and diatonic

 

thank you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With regards to Western music, chromatic refers to having a scale (series of notes or tones per octave) containing 12 tones. The interval between them is called a "semitone" (I know that sounds confusion, but that's just the way it is). An instrument that is fully chromatic can play in any key and in any mode (how easily it can do that is another matter...).

 

Diatonic refers to having a scale of only the seven "standard" tones. The intervals between these tones consists of 5 (full or whole) tones and 2 semitones (the order in which you you do these in results in the various musical modes). An instrument that is limited to a single diatonic key can play an amazingly large percentage of traditional dance tunes. And many diatonic instruments can play in several diatonic keys.

 

Most Western tunes are diatonic in nature though many will often use some chromatic notes from time to time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition to Richard's excellent reply...

 

Chromatic is all the keys on a piano [black and white]..

 

Diatonic is just the white keys. [Do ray me so fa la te do].

 

Simplistic yes, but it's always helped me remember. :)

 

Cheers

Morgana

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose we should also mention here definitions that are commonly used among squeezebox players although they are not really "correct."

 

Instruments that play the same note in and out are sometimes called "chromatic," while instruments that play different notes in and out are sometimes called "diatonic." If you think about it, this is because instruments that play the same note in and out are usually set up to include all the notes of the chromatic scale while instruments that play different notes in and out are generally tuned to diatonic scales, although many of them contain more than one diatonic scale and enough extra accidental notes to be able to play chromatically.

 

But it is not the in-out property itself that determines whether the instrument is chromatic or diatonic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×