octatonic scale

The octatonic scale is an eight-note scale associated with the late-nineteenth-century Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. It consists of half tones and whole tones in alternation: i.e., go up one half-step, then two half-steps, then one half-step, then two half-steps, and so on. The scale may also start with a whole tone and alternate from there. Stravinsky, Rimsky's student, used this scale extensively, as did Olivier Messiaen; both composers prized its ability to produce tonal chords without following tonal rules.