Ballads and Performance: The Multimodal Stage in Early Modern England

"Ballads on the Brain: A Neurobiological Hypothesis"

Gapped pentatonic scales are commonly found in folk songs throughout the world because these sets of notes arise from natural harmonics rather than being based on any invented tuning scheme. The intervals between the notes are only “gaps” relative to our modern notion of scales based on octaves and dividing octaves into seven steps. Many simple shepherd flutes and horns can only produce the notes we would call gapped scales, and such instruments may have played a key role in the origin of these tunes (Hirt 2013).

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