twelve major scales

among the Greeks on account of having symmetry in itself. The primitive scale was doubtless that which is the model of all major music; and our minor model is its dual, as Ramsay has shown, which in its genesis indicates the duality of all the rest of the notes, although it is not probable that the Greeks saw the musical elements in this light. It is remarkable and significant that in their modes the Greeks did not lift up the scale of Nature into different pitches, preserving its model form as we do in our twelve major scales, but keeping the model form at one pitch they built up their symmetrical tetrachords, allowing the larger and lesser tones of the primitive scale to arrange themselves in every variety of place, as we have shown in the table of tetrachord modes above. Without seeing the genetic origin of music's duality they were led to arrange the modes by symmetry, which is one of the phases of duality. Symmetry is duality in practice. It may not always be apparent how symmetry originates in Nature; but in music, the art of the ear, duality emerges in the genesis of the minor scale; in the true mathematical build of the major on the root of the major subdominant F, and the true relation of the minor to it in the inverse genesis descending from the top of the minor dominant B. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 46]

that Nature has done so.1 And in every new key into which we modulate Nature performs the same operation, till in the course of the twelve scales she has cut every greater note into two, and made the notes of the scale into twelve instead of seven. These we, as a matter of convenience, call semitones; though they are really as much tones as are the small intervals which Nature gave us in the genesis of the first scale between B-C and E-F. She only repeats the operation for every new key which she had performed at the very first. It is a new key, indeed, but exactly like the first. The 5 and 9 commas interval between E and G becomes a 9 and 5 comma interval; and this Nature does by the rule which rests in the ear, and is uttered in the obedient voice, and not by any mathematical authority from without. She cuts the 9-comma step F to G into two, and leaving 5 commas as the last interval of the new key of G, precisely as she had made 5 commas between B and C as the last interval of the key of C, she adds the other 4 commas to the 5-comma step E to F, which makes this second-last step a 9-comma step, precisely as she had made it in the key of C.2 [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 48]

The various raisings and lowerings of notes in advancing keys, major and minor. - In each fifth of the majors ascending the top of the dominant is raised a comma. A40 in the key of C becomes A40 1/2 in the key of G; E60 in the scale of G is E60 3/4 in the scale of D; B90 in the scale of D is B91 1/8 in the scale of A. This alteration of the top of the dominant major goes on through all the twelve scales. Similarly, by the Law of Duality, each fifth in the minors descending has the root of the subdominant lowered a comma. D54 in the key of E minor is D53 1/2 in the key of A; G72 in the scale of A is G71 1/9 in the scale of D; C48 in the scale of D is C47 11/27 in the scale of G. This alteration of the root of the subdominant goes on through all the twelve minor scales. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 62]

The simple natural scale is the fifth; the compound natural scale is the octave; the harmony scale, or chord-scale, is the three fifths; the great genetic scale is six octaves; for, like the six creation days, it takes the six octaves to give birth to the elements of which the wondrous structure of our music is built up; the birthplace of B, the seventh of the octave scale, is the sixth octave of the great genetic scale. The area of the twelve major and twelve minor scales is twelve fifths or seven octaves, the twelfth fifth being a comma and the apotome minor in advance of the seventh octave. This is a quantity so small that it can be ignored in real music; and the two notes, say E# and F, joined to close the circle of this horizon of our music world. E# is the top of the twelfth fifth, and F is the top of the seventh octave; and they are practically, though not exactly mathematically, the same note. Illustrations of this will be found among the plates of this work. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 79]


The Plate shows the Twelve Major and Minor Scales, with the three chords of their harmony - subdominant, tonic, and dominant; the tonic chord being always the center one. The straight lines of the three squares inside the stave embrace the chords of the major scales, which are read toward the right; e.g., F, C, G - these are the roots of the three chords F A C, C E G, G B D. The tonic chord of the scale of C becomes the subdominant chord of the scale of G, etc., all round. The curved lines of the ellipse embrace the three chords of the successive scales; e.g., D, A, E - these are the roots of the three chords D F A, A C E, E G B. The tonic chord of the scale of A becomes the subdominant of the scale of E, etc., all round. The sixth scale of the Majors may be written B with 5 sharps, and then is followed by F with 6 sharps, and this by C with 7 sharps, and so on all in sharps; and in this case the twelfth key would be E with 11 sharps; but, to simplify the signature, at B we can change the writing into C, this would be followed by G with 6 flats, and then the signature dropping one flat at every new key becomes a simpler expression; and at the twelfth key, instead of E with 11 sharps we have F with only one flat. Similarly, the Minors make a change from sharps to flats; and at the twelfth key, instead of C with 11 sharps we have D with one flat. The young student, for whose help these pictorial illustrations are chiefly prepared, must observe, however, that this is only a matter of musical orthography, and does not practically affect the music itself. When he comes to the study of the mathematical scales, he will be brought in sight of the exact very small difference between this B and C♭, or this F# and G♭; but meanwhile there is no difference for him. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 108]


In the center column are the notes, named; with the lesser and larger steps of their mathematical evolution marked with commas, sharps, and flats; the comma and flat of the descending evolution placed to the left; the comma and sharp of the ascending evolution to the right; and in both cases as they arise. If a note is first altered by a comma, this mark is placed next to the letter; if first altered by a sharp or flat, these marks are placed next the letter. It will be observed that the sharpened note is always higher a little than the note above it when flattened; A# is higher than ♭B; and B is higher than ♭C, etc.; thus it is all through the scales; and probably it is also so with a fine voice guided by a true ear; for the natural tendency of sharpened notes is upward, and that of flattened notes downward; the degree of such difference is so small, however, that there has been difference of opinion as to whether the # and have a space between them, or whether they overlap, as we have shown they do. In tempered instruments with fixed keys the small disparity is ignored, and one key serves for both. In the double columns right and left of the notes are their mathematical numbers as they arise in the Genesis of the scales. In the seven columns right of the one number-column, and in the six on the left of the other, are the 12 major and their 12 relative minor scales, so arranged that the mathematical number of their notes is always standing in file with their notes. D in A minor is seen as 53 1/3, while the D of C major is 54; this is the comma of difference in the primitive Genesis, and establishes the sexual distinction of major and minor all through. The fourth of the minor is always a comma lower than the second of the major, though having the same name; this note in the development of the scales by flats drops in the minor a comma below the major, and in the development of the scales by sharps ascends in the major a comma above the minor. In the head of the plate the key-notes of the 12 majors, and under them those of their relative minors, are placed over the respective scales extended below. This plate will afford a good deal of teaching to a careful student; and none will readily fail to see beautiful indications of the deep-seated Duality of Major and Minor. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 109]

The twelve major scales
—The term key-note employed in the ordinary sense of the musician
—The twelve key-notes, with the six notes of each as they veer round in trinities, are written in musical clef, and the scales added
—The reversal of the four and three of the key-note and its trinities in the seven of its scale
—The twelve keys follow each other seven times through seven octaves linked into the lower and higher series
Keys mingled
—The modulating of scales, the eleventh notes rising to higher keys, . . . . . . 26 [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, Table of Contents2 - Harmonies]

"Oh, how unlike the complex works of man,

Heaven's easy, artless, unencumbered plan!"—Cowper.:: [Harmonies of Tones and Colours, Diagram IV - The Development of the Twelve Major Scales, page 26a]

See Also

Ramsay - PLATE VII - The 24 Keys and their Chords
Ramsay - PLATE VIII - The Mathematical Table of Majors and Minors and their Ratio Numbers
twelve minor scales

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Tuesday March 2, 2021 02:29:18 MST by Dale Pond.