Advanced Scales

If you have read through the Music Theory Essential Guide, you might be wondering what are the possible scales left out there. 

Other than Major and Minor scales, there are still existing lots of different scales, such as church mode scales, blue scales, pentatonic scales, etc. And now we are going to discuss it.

A musical scale (Major and Minor Scales) consists of 8 notes, starting from the Root (1st), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th. 

And the technical names for the degree of notes are tonic (1st), supertonic (2nd), mediant (3rd), subdominant (4th), dominant (5th), submediant (6th), leading note (7th), and tonic. 

Church Modes

Church Modes derived from the Renaissance Period. It mainly used to sing Gregorian Chants at that time. The modes in sequenced are Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian. 

You can always think of a funny sentence yourself to memorize the order of Church Modes. For me, “I Didn’t Play Loud Music At Library”.

  • I = Ionian
  • Didn’t = Dorian
  • Play = Phrygian
  • Loud = Lydian
  • Music = Mixolydian
  • At = Aeolian
  • Library = Locrian
Pentatonic Scales

Pentatonic Scales (Pentatonic derives from the name “Penta” which means 5. We can have a lot of combinations of pentatonic scales, the most common will be Chinese Pentatonic (1,2,3,5,6)

Blue Scales

Blue Scales, the hexatonic (6 notes) consists of the minor pentatonic scale plus the b5th degree. (1, b3, 4, #4/b5, 5, b7)

Whole Tone Scales

Whole Tone Scales consists of 6 notes. There are only two groups of whole-tone scales are available in music theory, because no matter how you change the order it still belongs to the same group).

As you can see, all of the intervals are in the same distance (interval), therefore there’s no leading tone occurring in this scale. The whole tone is built in two augmented triads (two major 3rd intervals.)

Giacomo Puccini, Alban Berg, Béla Bartók etc use the Whole Tone scale in their compositions.

Octatonic Scales

Octatonic Scales consists of 8 notes. There are only two Octatonic Scales available as well. 

1. First start with tone, then semitones, subsequently follow the same order until it meet the same note) 

2) First stat with semitone, then tone

You can find some of the examples work from Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Oliver Messiaen, etc.

Chromatic Scale

Chromatic Scale consists of 13 notes in total included the same final note. It means from the first note play semitone (half step) all the while until it meets to the next same note. 

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