Hexatonic scale

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The scales listed here are mostly artificial constructions and do not form the basis of any lyrical tunes which is why none have been proposed below. However Irish and Scottish and many other folk traditions use six note scales. They can be easily described by the addition of two triads a tone apart. ie Am and G as in tunes like Shady Grove. This scale is a very large part of the aural history of music. I encourage anyone who is actually interested in six note scales to look at a book of folk tunes and observe how many omit either the fourth or the sixth from the seven note diatonic scale and are therefore hexatonic in character.

In music and music theory, a hexatonic scale is a scale with six pitches or notes per octave. Famous examples include the whole tone scale, C D E F G A C; the augmented scale, C D E G A B C; the Prometheus scale, C D E F A B C; and what some jazz theorists[weasel words] call the "blues scale", C E F G G B C. A hexatonic scale can also be formed by stacking perfect fifths, this results in a diatonic scale with one note removed (for example, A C D E F G).

Whole tone scale[edit]

Main article: Whole tone scale

The whole tone scale is a series of whole tones. It has two non-enharmonically equivalent positions: C D E F G A C and D E F G A B D. It is primarily associated with the French impressionist composer Claude Debussy, who used it in such pieces of his as Voiles and Le vent dans la plaine, both from his first book of piano Préludes.

This whole-tone scale has appeared occasionally and sporadically in jazz at least since Bix Beiderbecke's impressionistic piano piece In a Mist. Bop pianist Thelonious Monk often interpolated whole-tone scale flourishes into his improvisations and compositions.

Whole tone scale About this sound Play .

Augmented scale[edit]

The augmented scale, also known in jazz theory as the symmetrical augmented scale,[1] is so called because it can be thought of as an interlocking combination of two augmented triads an augmented second or minor third apart: C E G and E G B. It may also be called the "minor-third half-step scale" due to the series of intervals produced.[1]

Augmented scale About this sound Play .

It made one of its most celebrated early appearances in Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony (Eine Faust Symphonie). Another famous use of the augmented scale (in jazz) is in Oliver Nelson's solo on "Stolen Moments". It is also prevalent in 20th century compositions by Alberto Ginastera,[2] Almeida Prado,[3] Béla Bartók, Milton Babbitt, and Arnold Schoenberg, by saxophonists John Coltrane and Oliver Nelson in the late 50s and early 60s, and bandleader Michael Brecker.[1] Alternating E major and C minor triads form the augmented scale in the opening bars of the Finale in Shostakovich's Second Piano Trio.[citation needed]

Prometheus scale[edit]

Main article: Mystic chord

The Prometheus scale is so called because of its prominent use in Alexander Scriabin's symphonic poem Prometheus: The Poem of Fire. Scriabin himself called this set of pitches, voiced as the simultaneity (in ascending order) C F B E A D the "mystic chord". Others have referred to it as the "Promethean chord".

Prometheus scale About this sound Play .

Blues scale[edit]

Main article: Blues scale

Since blue notes are alternate inflections, strictly speaking there can be no one blues scale,[4] but the scale most commonly called "the blues scale" comprises a flatted seventh blue note, a flatted third blue note, and a flatted fifth blue note along with other pitches derived from the minor pentatonic scale: C E F F G B C.[5][6][7]

Most common "blues scale" About this sound Play .

Tritone scale[edit]

The tritone scale, C D E G G() B,[8] is enharmonically equivalent to the Petrushka chord, C C E F G A.

Tritone scale on C About this sound Play .

The two-semitone tritone scale, C D D F G A, is a symmetric scale consisting of a repeated pattern of two semitones followed by a major third now used for improvisation and may substitute for any mode of the jazz minor scale.[9] The scale originated in Nicolas Slonimsky's book Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns through the, "equal division of one octave into two parts," creating a tritone, and the, "interpolation of two notes," adding two consequent semitones after the two resulting notes.[10]

Two-semitone tritone scale on C About this sound Play .

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Workman, Josh. Advanced: "Secrets of the symmetrical augmented scale", Guitar Player 41.7 (July 2007): p108(2).
  2. ^ Johnson, Timothy. "Modernism". Ithaca College. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ Corvisier, Fernando. "The ten piano sonatas of Almeida Prado: the development of his compositional style". University of São Paulo/Academia.edu. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ J. Bradford Robinson/Barry Kernfeld. "Blue Note", The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Second Edition, London (2002)
  5. ^ Ferguson, Jim (2000). All Blues Scale for Jazz Guitar: Solos, Grooves & Patterns, p.6. ISBN 0-7866-5213-6.
  6. ^ Arnold, Bruce (2002). The Essentials: Chord Charts, Scales and Lead Patterns for Guitar, p.8. ISBN 1-890944-94-7.
  7. ^ Harrison, Mark (2003). Blues Piano: Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series, p.8. ISBN 0-634-06169-0.
  8. ^ Busby, Paul. "Short Scales", Scored Changes: Tutorials.[unreliable source?]
  9. ^ Dziuba, Mark (2000). The Ultimate Guitar Scale Bible, p.129. ISBN 1-929395-09-4.
  10. ^ Nicolas Slonimsky. Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Music Sales Corp. ISBN 0-8256-7240-6. Retrieved Jun 2, 2009. [page needed]

External links[edit]