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Hungarian minor scale

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\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
\relative c' {
  \clef treble \time 7/4
  c4 d es fis g aes b c2
} }
The Hungarian minor scale on C, ascending[1]

The Hungarian minor scale,[2][3][4][5][6] double harmonic minor scale,[7] or Gypsy minor scale[4][8] is a type of combined musical scale. It is the fourth mode of the double harmonic scale. It is the same as the harmonic minor scale, except that it has a raised fourth scale degree[2][3][4][6][7][8] to introduce an additional gap, or augmented second. It is a symmetrical scale with a slightly ambiguous tonal centre, due to the many half steps.

Its step pattern is W, H, +, H, H, +, H, where W indicates a whole step, H indicates a half step, and + indicates an augmented second (three half steps, enharmonically equivalent to a minor third but functionally distinct). In intervallic terms, it would be described as: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.
The scale contains two augmented seconds,[5] one in each tetrachord.[1] It also contains an augmented fourth between the first and fourth degree.
This scale (and its modes like the double harmonic scale) is one of the few perfectly balanced seven-note subsets of the equally tempered chromatic scale: when its pitches are represented as points in a circle whose full circumference represents an octave, their average position (or "centre of mass") is the centre of the circle. Other examples include the Dorian mode of major and fifth mode of melodic minor.
The axis of balance for the Hungarian minor passes through the fifth and the flat nine, which is not included in the pitch set.[9]

The scale may be used with minor or m+7 chords.[2][6] See: chord-scale system. Chords that may be derived from the B Hungarian minor scale are Bm(maj7), C75, Dmaj75, E6sus25, Fmaj7, Gmaj7, G7, Am6 and more.

This scale is obtainable from the double harmonic scale by starting from the fourth degree of that scale, so the C Hungarian minor scale is equivalent to the G double harmonic scale.[7]

In Indian classical Carnatic music, Hungarian minor scale corresponds to Simhendramadhyamam, while the Gypsy variant corresponds to Shanmukhapriya.

The Turkish makam equivalent of this scale is Neveser.[10]

This scale is sometimes also referred to as "Gypsy Run", or alternatively "Egyptian Minor Scale", as mentioned by Miles Davis who describes it in his autobiography as "something that I'd learned at Juilliard".[11]

Gypsy (Aeolian 4) scale on C

An alternative (and less common) version is the asymmetric Aeolian ♯4 scale, the only difference with the Hungarian minor scale being that the 7th degree of the scale is not raised.[12][13] This form of the scale can also be used in the fourth mode and would then be referred to as the Neapolitan scale.



Measures 5–6 of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

Tchaikovsky’s piece, “Marche slave”, has a main theme using the Hungarian minor scale.

The Pink Panther Theme, originally played in the key of E minor, is noted for its quirky, unusual use of chromaticism which is derived from this scale.[14]

Joe Satriani has composed several songs using the Hungarian minor scale (“Musterion[15]).

Oli Herbert of the American melodic metalcore band All That Remains uses the Hungarian minor scale in his playing (“Become the Catalyst[16]).

Cannibal Corpse’s song “Rabid” off of their Torture album is written in the Hungarian minor scale.[17]

The second section of Klaus Schulze's long composition “Ludwig II” from the album X has a theme built on an ascending Hungarian minor scale.

The song “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony features a saxophone riff written in this scale.

The theme tune from the 1983 animated TV series “Inspector Gadget[18] uses this scale.

In a song by Will Wood, BlackBoxWarrior - OKULTRA, Will references “A hymn out in Hungarian Harmonic”. Following this lyric is a walk up the Hungarian Minor scale.

It was also used in Ozzy Osbourne’s album Diary of a madman on the last track: it can be heard in the solo.

Much of the album The Hand of the Wicked One by Wynter Kills was written in the Hungarian Minor scale, with many sections harmonized in Hungarian Minor.


Mode Name of scale Degrees
1 Double Harmonic Minor 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
2 Oriental 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
3 Ionian 2 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
4 Locrian double flat3 double flat7 1 2 double flat3 4 5 6 double flat7 8
5 Double harmonic major or Phrygian Dominant 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
6 Lydian 2 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
7 Ultraphrygian or Phrygian 4 double flat7 1 2 3 4 5 6 double flat7 8

See also



  1. ^ a b Kahan, Sylvia (2009). In Search of New Scales, p. 39. ISBN 978-1-58046-305-8. Cites Liszt. Des Bohémians, p. 301.
  2. ^ a b c Christiansen, Mike (2000). Guitar Scale Dictionary, p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7866-5222-8.
  3. ^ a b Stetina, Troy (2007). Fretboard Mastery, p. 126. ISBN 978-0-7935-9789-5.
  4. ^ a b c Kent Cleland, Mary Dobrea-Grindahl (2010). Developing Musicianship Through Aural Skills, p. 495. ISBN 978-0-415-80244-4
  5. ^ a b Carlos Agon, Emmanuel Amiot, Moreno Andreatta, Gérard Assayag, Jean Bresson, John Manderau; eds. (2011). Mathematics and Computation in Music, p. 89. ISBN 978-3-642-21589-6. "'gypsy'[sic] (or 'Hungarian minor') scale."
  6. ^ a b c Christiansen, Mike (2003). Complete Guitar Scale Dictionary, p. 16. ISBN 978-0-7866-6994-3.
  7. ^ a b c Podolsky, Joshua Craig (2010). Advanced Lead Guitar Concepts, p. 111. ISBN 978-0-7866-8236-2. Also "Gypsy scale".
  8. ^ a b Hanson, Paul and Stang, Aaron (1996). Shred Guitar, p. 114. ISBN 978-1-57623-604-8.
  9. ^ Milne, A. J., Bulger, D., Herff, S. A. Sethares, W. A. "Perfect balance: A novel principle for the construction of musical scales and meters", Mathematics and Computation in Music (Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 9110, pp. 97–108) Heidelberg: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-20603-5 ISBN 978-3-319-20602-8
  10. ^ "NEVESER". TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi (in Turkish). Retrieved 2024-06-04.
  11. ^ Davis, Miles; Troupe, Quincy (1990). Miles, the Autobiography. Simon & Schuster. pp. 64. ISBN 0-671-72582-3.
  12. ^ Kadmon, Adam. (2002), The guitar grimoire., Carl Fischer, ISBN 0-8258-4907-1, OCLC 613326594
  13. ^ Celentano, Dave. (1992). Monster scales and modes : a complete compilation of scales, modes, exotic scales, and theory. Centerstream. ISBN 0-931759-59-5. OCLC 28615218.
  14. ^ Silverman, Carol (24 May 2012). Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora. Oxford University Press. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-19-530094-9.
  15. ^ Hungarian Minor Archived 2013-02-08 at archive.today”, NextLevelGuitar.com.
  16. ^ Dissecting Oli Herbert's "Become The Catalyst" – Guitar Lesson”, RockHouseMethod.BlogSpot.com.
  17. ^ Cannibal Corpse “Torture” Studio Video: Guitar and Bass Tracking on YouTube
  18. ^ "Inspector Gadget Theme by Shuki Levy and Haim Saban Chords, Melody, and Music Theory Analysis - Hooktheory".

Further reading