Japanese musical scales

A variety of musical scales are used in traditional Japanese music. While a twelve-tone (dodecaphonic) Chinese scale has influenced Japanese music since the Heian period, in practice Japanese traditional music is often based on pentatonic (five tone) or heptatonic (seven tone) scales.[1] In some instances, harmonic minor, like in the famous piece Sakura Sakura, is used, while the melodic minor is virtually unused.

Pentatonic scales

Further reading

  • Koizumi Fumio. Musical Scales in Japanese Music. Heibonsha, Tokyo, 1977
  • Sir Francis Taylor Piggott, Thomas Lea Southgate. The Music and Musical Instruments of Japan. B.T. Batsford, 1893
  • William P. Malm. Traditional Japanese Music and Musical Instruments. Kodansha International, 2000. ISBN 4770023952, 9784770023957
  • Cargill Gilston Knott. Remarks on Japanese musical scales. Asiatic Society of Japan, 1891


  1. Apel, Willi (1969-01-01). Harvard Dictionary of Music. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674375017.

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