# controversial "trivia" question.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Brad Barker, Nov 16, 2002.

Apr 13, 2001
berkeley, ca
yesterday after school, i was practicin' with my school's academic a team (a jeopardy-esque type dealy where the questions are academically oriented).

one of the questions was as follows:

"which of the following scales has an augmented second: major, [natural] minor, harmonic minor, or melodic minor."

i answered melodic minor because of those choices, it seemed to make the most sense to me, but the answer key begged to differ. it said that the harmonic minor scale has an augmented second.

can any scale buffs assess the validity of that?

2. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
It's a poorly worded question. When I first read it I thought that none of them did (since the second degree of all the scales are the same). Then I realized they're talking about the interval between the 6th and 7th degrees of the Harmonic minor scale. (b6 to natural 7 is an augmented second)

3. ### Chris FitzgeraldStudent of LifeStaff MemberAdministrator

Oct 19, 2000
Louisville, KY
What PLANKMAN said...he beat me to the punch again, as usual.

But actually, when I play any of the aforementioned scales on my DB, any or all of them could have an augmented 2nd at any given time. So in a way, it's a trick question...

4. ### BoplicitySupporting Member

Showing my ignorance big time here, but I'm really curious as I don't know the finest points of theory. I had never heard of an augmented second, so I assumed it would be the equivalent of a flat third or minor third. With that (probably erronous thinking), I don't see why it would be the interval between the sixth and seventh degrees of the Harmonic Minor scale.

Oh, wait! Now I do see that. It is ANY interval in the scale. Man, that was a tricky question indeed! I fell into the trap of thinking of an augmented second as meaning a root, augmented second (minor third), etc. The question refers to any interval of a minor second anywhere in the scale. Whew! What mental gymnastics.

5. ### Aaron

Jun 2, 2001
Bellingham, WA
Is there a name for the 6th mode of harmonic minor?

Apr 13, 2001
berkeley, ca
okay, you all gave the exact answer i was expecting!

(including the "poorly worded question" part!). i think every word said in this thread ran through my head!

after having answered the question wrong, i realized that the "augmented second" the author had in mind was between the sixth and seventh of the harmonic minor scale.

i may have nailed the question if it were worded "which parent scale contains a mode containing an augmented second?"

and that mode would be the sixth mode of the harmonic minor scale, which PoT alluded to.

(and its name? lydian #2 maybe?).

okay, so now the question is would i be right to tell the author of that question that it was faulty?

7. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
Might as well.

Apr 13, 2001
berkeley, ca
well, i'll go find out the precise wording of the question.

it could have been what you suggested, pacman. sometimes what someone says and what i hear are two COMPLETELY different things!

Apr 13, 2001
berkeley, ca
okay, so here is the official wording:

"Which one of the following four scales contains an augmented second in its construction:

1. natural minor
2. major
3. harmonic minor
4. melodic minor"

with this wording, wouldn't "all of the above" be the right answer?

i'll go tell the author of pacman's wording of the question, since it is far superior.

okay, so where is the lesson--if one at all exists!--in this?

a) it is acceptable to count in seconds (2nds) as opposed to half/whole steps (i guess? this is the second--no pun intended--time i've seen seconds used as opposed to steps/tones)

b) make sure that you are not a pompous ***...(?)

10. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Nope. See, an augmented 2nd is a major second, widened by a semitone. So, for example, C to D is a major second, therefore C to D# is an augmented second. Note that C to Eb, however (although it sounds the same) is a minor 3rd. If you look through the intervals that make up those scales, you'll see only harmonic minor contains this interval. In the harmonic minor scale, the 6th is minor, and the 7th is major, this is what creates the augmented second. For example, A Harmonic Minor goes A B C D E F G# A. The 6th is F, and the 7th is G# - this is an augmented second. If the G were natural (as in the natural minor scale), the interval between the 2 notes would be a major 2nd. But, the G is sharpened, making the interval a semitone wider - which makes in an augmented 2nd.

11. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
exactly. the key is to realize that the minor 3rd is not an augmented second.

12. ### BoplicitySupporting Member

According to page 48 of "The Bass Grimoire" by Adam Kadmon, the sixth mode of the harmonic scale is , indeed, called "Lydian #2".

It consists of the root, augmented second, major third, sharp fourth, perfect fifth, major sixth and major seventh degrees.

Apr 13, 2001
berkeley, ca
fair enough. but would there be any instance where the seventh degree would be flatted so that no letters were skipped (thereby qualifying the interval as a minor third)?

...okay, i've done some thinking. the answer to my question is "no."

and all this time, i've thought of that interval as a minor third...

also, i think that moley's argument is strong enough to deter me from not combatting the question. (and i do appreciate any efforts to help elaborate/belabor any sort of concept of theory for myself and/or others).

but i still believe that jon packard's wording is much more clear...

...i think i'll just give up the struggle. i know when i'm defeated!

one final theoretical conceptual question: the harmonic minor is the ONLY scale (of those four) where an augmented second appears (without the use of adding in chromatic passing tones)? those step-and-a-half intervals between nonadjacent notes are considered minor thirds?

(oh, and boplicity--don't think that i just pulled that obscure mode name from the top-o'-me-noggin'. i had a thread a while ago asking for help on the modes of harmonic minor--"modes of harmonic minor" i believe it was called--wherein gard gave me a link to a site where i printed off a sheet with the names and fretboard "tabs" of 'em. )

14. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
I just thought of something... C to E is a major 3rd, C to E# is an augmented 3rd... so what is Cb to E#? A double-augmented 3rd? I probably do (or should) know the answer to that, but at this time in the morning it eludes me...

15. ### Peter McFerrin

Jul 4, 2000
Valencia, CA 91354
Lydian aug9, maybe?

16. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
nothing. you won't have flats and sharps in the same scale.

17. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Well, sure, not in the same scale, but forget the context of a scale for the moment... what would you call the interval on it's own? And what about in a piece? You could conceivably have Cb E# in a piece. I can't think of an occasion where you'd want to tho

EDIT: By the way, you can have flats and sharps in the same scale, the aforementioned augmented second in the harmonic minor, for example. e.g. D harmonic minor has Bb and C#.

18. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
You are correct, I was mistaken.

Cb to E# is a tritone.

You probably wouldn't see it a lot since you've named it with two enharmonics - you'd either see Cb to F, B to F, or B to E#.

Ed? Chris? Want to ring in on this?

19. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Yup, you're right about that, it's a tritone...

Indeed, it's not something I recall ever seeing written... when I was writing the post explaining augmented 2nd and minor 3rd, I was just gonna say that "any C to any E is a 3rd of some kind", then it occured to me, what is Cb to E#? There's gotta be a name for it? And I would suppose it would have to be a kind of 3rd, cuz the notes are C and E... Double-augmented? I'm trying to remember if they taught us that one when I did A-Level Music...

EDIT: or, for that matter, something like C to F double sharp... double augmented 4th? or C to Gbb... double diminished 5th? Or Cbb to E double sharp! Geez what kind of a 3rd is that?!?

20. ### Chris FitzgeraldStudent of LifeStaff MemberAdministrator

Oct 19, 2000
Louisville, KY

I think you're right that you wouldn't see this in a real piece of music. Most bizarre enharmonic spellings that I've seen have occurred in mid to late romantic "legit" music as a result of an increasingly chromatic harmonic language which many composers still attempted to write within the "rules" dictated by earlier conventions. Brahms, for instance, sometimes modulates into enharmonic "keys" that don't really exist during his development sections - I was reading a four hands version of one of his symphonies once with my (piano) teacher, and one passage ended up in Fb major...thank god it only lasted for about 16 bars or so.

At any rate, in the "legit" tradition, the main reason for spelling a note as a sharp or flat is to convey its resolution tendency - leading tones tend to be written as raised ("sharped") spellings to show upward resolution, and 7ths tend to be written with lowered (flatted) spellings to show downward resolution tendencies.

In the case of the interval being described above (Cb to E#), I think it's unlikely because both tones would tend to resolve in the opposite direction. In addition, melodic skips of a tritone are all but forbidden before the late romantic period.

So, to make a short answer long, I'd be surprised to run into an Cb to E# leap...