How many musical scales are there in the world?

A musical scale is a set of notes arranged from the lowest pitch to the highest. Western composers – those from the U.S.A., Europe, and Australia – call the notes in their scale A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The distance between a note and the next highest note by the same name is called an octave.

An octave also includes sharps – half tones above notes – and flats – half tones below notes. The distance between a note and its sharp or a note and its flat is called a half step. The letter notes and half steps add up to a total of 12 full steps in the Western scale.

Music from countries in the eastern part of the world, such as China, India, and Saudi Arabia, sounds different from Western music, because Asian music has more kinds of notes than Western music has. For example, the Arab scale has 17 steps in each octave. The Indian scale has even more – 22 steps.

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