Symmetrical scales are those that have exactly the same sequence of intervals when played in ascending and descending ways. In other words, we use the same idea (intervallic structure) to run the scale in both senses: From up to down and vice-versa.
The chromatic scale is an example from symmetrical scale, because its intervallic structure is: semitone – semitone – semitone – semitone, etc. Therefore, to perform it from down to up or vice-versa we follow the same logic.
Asymmetrical scales are those that are not symmetric. The major scale, for example, is asymmetrical, because its formation sequence is not the same in the execution going up comparing from going down. It is made by the sequence: tone – tone – semitone – tone – tone – tone – semitone.
Check now that this scale seen from down to up is: semitone – tone – tone – tone – semitone – tone – tone. In other words, the intervallic sequence is not the same in both senses (going up x going down).
Almost all the scales are asymmetrical. This makes that the symmetrical scales be a peculiar one. With a sonority (in most of the cases) easy to be distinguishable.
The application of this scale, however, needs to be studied separately. But don’t worry about that, the team of Simplifying Theory will show you in details how to use each one of them, with simplified theoretical explanation and practical examples!
Go to: Chromatic approach chord
Back to: Module 9