What does diatonic mean? How do you play diatonic scales?

In musical terms, it makes reference to using only the 7 tones of the standard scale … thus: C, D, E, F, G, A and B (in a C major scale). The chromatic notes (sharps/flats) are not used.

diatonic [?da???t?n?k]


1. (Music, other) of, relating to, or based upon any scale of five tones and two semitones produced by playing the white keys of a keyboard instrument, esp the natural major or minor scales forming the basis of the key system in Western music Compare chromatic [2]

2.(Music, other) not involving the sharpening or flattening of the notes of the major or minor scale nor the use of such notes as modified by accidentals

[from Late Latin diatonicus, from Greek diatonikos, from diatonos extending, from diateinein to stretch out, from dia- + teinein to stretch]

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