Dalcroze Rhythmic C-to-C Scales

Note: All audio tracks are downloadable


The Dalcroze C-to-C scales are an excellent way to understand melodic and harmonic function. By function, we refer to the dynamic relationship among all of the scale degrees that give each pitch its own distinctive character and feel. In this way, each note of the scale functions in a hierarchy that ultimately creates a strong drive towards the Tonic (Scale Degree 1). By placing each scale within the octave from C-to-C, students can begin to feel the push and pull of each scale degree and eventually begin to hear the harmonies that support these pitches.

Rhythmically, we hold the pitch C (the first and last notes of each ascent and descent) longer than the other pitches in the scale, so that we have time to absorb its color and character. As you work through each scale in class, you will notice that certain scale degrees hold a specific value. The selection of the particular rhythms we use is somewhat arbitrary. The point is that moving the scales while singing on pitch names and identifying scale degree function rhythmically allows us to embody tonal music in a whole new way. — Jeremy Dittus, Diplôme Supérieur, Embodying Music