Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's different about this song? The answer

click to enlarge

In comments to the previous post I said a hint was which notes you don't see. A quick scan of this piece will reveal that there are no Fas or Tis: no half steps. This is a scale which is used in different variations all over the world for many different kinds of music. However, this is the first time I've ever seen a song in any hymnal that was written in a pentatonic scale.

As I said before, another odd thing about it is that it ends on Re, which leaves a feeling of it being unfinished to western ears (this particular song being based on a Japanese melody). But since that last post, I have come across a few other songs which appear to be in a minor key, beginning on a minor chord (La-Do-Mi) as one would expect, but ending on a chord based on Re (either Re-Fa-La or Re-Fi-La). Such endings are outside my experience and training and I'm still trying to figure out what exactly is supposed to be going on.

UPDATE: Click on Here O Lord to download a simple mp3 version of this song if you want to hear what the tune sounds like.


  1. Aaahh, the pentatonic scale. Nice. Anything written that way is gonna sound pretty cool.

  2. What about "Be Thou My Vision"? Other than one accidental, it's in Pentatonic.