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LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

topic posted Mon, March 6, 2006 - 12:03 AM by  Rick
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Using the western chromatic system I think it would be really cool if people would be into submitting
their favorite World Music Scales (or any scales for that matter) from C to C.
Very obviously, many world music scales are not authentic if they are tuned to the Western tempered
12 note to an octave scale but let's just assume that you have a piano that for some reason you are
not allowed to prepare or retune. What scales sound cool in that given situation.

I also know that a lot of people in this tribe are really into harmony but I'm on a scalar/modal kick
right now and listening to a lot of music that utilizes these scales without changing the harmony.

As an example, here are two scales I'm hanging out with a lot these days
that can be thought of as alterations of the Diatonic modes.

LYDIAN Flat 7 scale (oops, I forgot what Rag this is officially in Indian music)

C D E F# G A Bb C
1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7 8va

The other one is a Middleeastern scale that can be thought of as a

PHYGIAN with a natural 3

C Db E F G Ab Bb C
1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7 8va

Anybody else into submitting what turns them on in this vein (or what has turned them on).

If peeps are into it, I'll collect them all and we can publish them in one big list or even in a list at a special
page at my website as a resource for everyone to use.
posted by:
Rick
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  • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

    Mon, March 6, 2006 - 10:54 AM
    My current favorites:

    A 6-tone symmetric scale: C D# E G Ab B C (Bob Mintzer calls it "a scale for all occasions").

    This one: C D E F G Ab Bb C (I call it "descending melodic major", a mode of the Lydian b7 you mentioned).

    I think of these more in a jazz context, not as world music scales, but I wouldn't be surprised if they pop up in other cultures (allowing for detuning etc.)
    • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

      Mon, March 6, 2006 - 1:20 PM
      I'm still obsessing over...

      (descending)

      d c A G# F# (e eb) D
      • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

        Mon, March 6, 2006 - 5:35 PM
        Cool Josh,

        Although that scale sounds more beautiful to me as a hexatonic (is that the right word?)
        scale both ascending and descending

        D E F# G# A C D
        1 2 3 #4 5 b7 8va which is back to my Lydian flat7 scale (minus the 6th degree)


        or even with the Eb as:

        D Eb F# G# A C D
        1 b2 3 #4 5 b7 8va

        My ear has a hard time with the E down to Eb combination in your scale.


        Do you guys have names for these two scales? It seems like the Indian rags covers about every permutation there is.
        I have the excellent Ragopedia by my friend Ashwin Batish (which I can highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn
        a lot about Indian classical melody in a Western context.

        When I have time I'll root around and see if I can find a name for it.

        By the way, apropos of absolutely nothing (with the exception that I'll probably hanging around a lot of Locrian and Phrygian
        territory), I will be a featured solo performer at this coming weekend's DARK ELEKTRONIKA FESTIVAL in San Francisco this weekend. I rarely get up to the city from where I play so if anyone is in the upper Bay Area and wants to see me play
        I'll be there on Saturday night. There is more info at the Dark Techno tribe (although I will be doing a combination of
        found and invented sound, exteneded vocal techniques with dark textures, rhythms and harmonies and will not be doing
        Dark Techno at all).
        • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

          Tue, March 7, 2006 - 7:32 PM
          I have a bit of a distaste for hexachord reference.

          I prefer to hear my scale as 5-28TnI embedded in/extended by 7-28TnI, not as more than or less than a symmetrical set.
          • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

            Wed, March 8, 2006 - 10:40 AM
            What exactly does "5-28TnI" mean? I can guess that the 5 means 5 pitch classes in one octave of the scale (ie pentatonic in a generic sense). What does the 28 refer to? Is this scale actually made of notes from a 28-tone chromatic scale (instead of 12)?

            Also, is it common for "hexatonic" or "hexachord" to imply symmetry?

            (Sorry if this is hijacking the thread.)
            • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

              Wed, March 8, 2006 - 4:24 PM
              In Forte's list of the types of collections of 5 pitches, the one I like is the 28th.

              'Hexatonic' and 'hexachord' by no means dictate symmetry, but they greatly suggest it as a possibility.

              People often hear 5-28 as included to a 6-member set consisting of two 3-11 sets in T relation at ic6, probably because it is so often used in this way by film composers and death metal bands.

              One thing I particularly love about the 5n sets is the basic lack of symmetry.
              • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                Thu, March 9, 2006 - 12:34 AM


                A quick question, Josh........................if you pick an Indian rag that has a constraint
                of six notes.......................are you opposed to using it, musically.

                it's just a bunch of pitches that either sound good with each
                other to your ear or don't the way I see it, no matter what your theoretical explanation of the scale.

                I, personally, had a hard time with your scale from an aesthetic standpoint and when I reduced it by one
                note, it sounded aesthetically pleasing to my ear and I wrote a beautiful piece with it.

                I hear that you might not like the constraint but is it for theoretical reasons or for aesthetic reasons?

                Do you dislike all 6 note Indian rags, as an example?

                I'm not trying attack you here..............I just am not understanding where you are coming from and I don't have the terminology set to understand the explanation that you just gave for not liking 6 note scales.

                I asked Deepak Ram about this very same thing last year..................why would you choose the 6 note scale over the
                7 note scale that is nearly identical. He said that the constraint really makes you think differently.
                Intrigued by this I have been looking at shorter note rags to play in.

                I may be coming from a far less sophisticated space than you guys are, but melody is really important to me. Even when I hear harmony that is unusual, it implies melody to me. Perhaps you guys don't think this way.

                Elucidate me, please.
                • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                  Thu, March 9, 2006 - 10:29 AM
                  I've really not much to add with the qualifiers of intonation cutting me out of this discussion. I did however find this site as an off shoot of my meandering on the subject and wondered if any of you were familiar with the parent site 'Scala'? I'd put that one up but don't want to be accused of spamming, from what I gather it's free anyway from the link at the top of the page. My music is so simplistic compared to what I find you folks doing so this may not be as interesting to you. Let me know if any of you think ‘Scala’ worth the space on the hard drive; I’m unsure if I could find a practical use for it.

                  www.xs4all.nl/~huygensf/d...odename.html
                • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                  Thu, March 9, 2006 - 1:31 PM
                  My problem isn't so much with the 6-tone collections, themselves, but with the tendency of music analysts to try to use them to explain all other collections, rather than looking (specifically) at the 5 member sets and the 7member sets as complementation/inclusion phenomena.

                  Looking at the black keys and white keys on the piano, there's no obvious reason that we should constantly try to explain either of these collections as a 6 member collection with something added or omitted. Moreover, it makes at least as much sense (in terms of the way these collections are actually used) to see two pitches added/subtracted as to see one pitch added/subtracted.

                  I tend to prefer thinking of 2 pitches in the 7 part sets as being 'extra', rather than to think of them as being left out of the 5 parts sets, but either of these things makes more sense than the 6-reference when dealing with scalar music.

                  6 reference is great for writing and analyzing serial/aton music, and I consider the 6 angle whenever I'm dealing with such matters, such as at the ends of development sections (as I've said).

                  In general, though, 6-part sets are sort of boring. Every pich is on an apogee relation to one other specific pitch and this tends to stifle all kinds of cyclical shapes in oblique motion that are much encouraged by the 5 and 7 member sets. In 5 I hear 5 dyads. In 6 I tend to hear 3 dyads or 2 triads; there's a kind of contrapuntal inertia to the number 6.

                  Many times I have decided to prove something to myself by writing a piece strictly from hexachord reference, but I have never really been satisfied with the result.

                  Maybe it is just me, though.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                    Thu, March 9, 2006 - 2:01 PM
                    Wow. I'm learning a lot about music set theory from this thread.

                    For completely different reasons, I also think that 5- and 7-note sets (or scales) are somewhat more natural than 6, with a 7-note scale being a sort of expansion of a more basic 5-note scale. Oddly, I think of 5- and 7-note scales as being *more* symmetric than 6. It's like there's a center pitch surrounded by 2 (or 3) other pitches on each of its two sides.

                    Weird.
                    • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                      Thu, March 9, 2006 - 2:29 PM
                      Come to think of it, that does seem like part of the problem; an even-numbered set has two haves but no center.
                      • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                        Thu, March 9, 2006 - 3:25 PM
                        Oh, I see, now, thanks for the explanation.

                        You were responding to trends in the academic world about syntactic descriptions of musical sets
                        as opposed to the scales themselves.

                        thanks for taking the time to explain.

                        Also, I think it's dandy that you like to add both the e and the eb to your scale.
                        I hope it's okay with you that I eliminate one when I use it.

                        Also, a little queery..............why did you parenthesize the (e eb) in your scale...............is that an ascending descending
                        order?
                        • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                          Thu, March 9, 2006 - 3:56 PM
                          >ou were responding to trends in the academic world about syntactic descriptions of musical sets
                          as opposed to the scales themselves.

                          I think they're separate problems.

                          There are some really useful 6-n and some almost useless 5-n.

                          Cardinality is only a avery vague index of set utility.

                          It's not just academics that want to do things like explain the 5-28/7-28 complex as derived from 6-n. Other musicians will often do this because they want to see everything break down into major or minor triads. IMHO, its a bt of a waste to write or play the 5-28/7-28 complex in this way; it detracts from Z-tetrachord content in something like the way that we lose the emphasis on ic5 when we treat the diatonic scales like they're just another subset of the chromatic.

                          Ultimately, if you want a pitch collection that does everything, you have to use all the pitches.

                          I hope I won't have to explain why I think that this as a general approach may easily lead to rather uninteresting music...
                        • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                          Thu, March 9, 2006 - 4:00 PM
                          BTW: I parenthesized (e...eb) because I think the 'extra' tones sound better when they're treaded as 'extra'.

                          More and more I like to show scales descending because it's closer to the way actual melodies tend to sound; feel free to play my example backwards... if there's anything Satanic in there, i assure you it's unintentional.
                          • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                            Sun, March 19, 2006 - 5:04 PM
                            After all that, Josh, I have found myself all week long in love with this scale:

                            C Db Eb E F# G A
                            1 b2 b3 3 #4 5 6

                            It's just fascinating me and I love how, to my untrained ears that it doesn't seem to want to resolve
                            to the octave for some reason...............maybe because the intervallic jump is too great.

                            Also for some reason I just don't like it with any kind of 7th degree.

                            What am I listening to, in your way of looking at things?
                            • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                              Sun, March 19, 2006 - 5:37 PM
                              7-31.

                              I've had limited success in using it as an expression of 5-31, which is a 5-n particularly difficult to extend without losing what's great in it
                              At the risk of seeming to contradict myself, I might say 7-31 so close to a 'symmetrical octatonic' that I can't blame people for hearing an unstated Bb in your example. Props to you for not going there straight away. You might consider using B natural as a sustained bass tone, though, at some point in a piece after 7-31 is well-established in its own right. B natural sort of says 'This is not Bb', which is the kind of thing I like to say in some way*.

                              One caution in approaching facets of 5-31..

                              CEbF#A and (Db or E or G) is that among the 4-n that 5-31 includes, the 'diminished 7th chord' tends to recede and lose interest rather quickly compared to the others.







































































































                              * This idea is not copyrighted.
                    • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                      Fri, March 24, 2006 - 12:39 AM
                      I agree with you, Harvey, about your perception of the symmetry of the 7 note scales.

                      I was kind of shocked playing with that scale (and I stumbled on it).

                      It fascinated me that it didn't want to go up to the octave but that it felt complete
                      on the sixth degree.

                      I'm learing in on chanter, recorders, guitar, bass and this beautiful new deeper ocarina I got at NAMM
                      (greatest place to score interesting instruments at an incredible discount if you can ever get into the show).
      • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

        Thu, December 14, 2006 - 5:45 PM
        I'm still obsessing over...

        (descending)

        d c A G# F# (e eb) D

        Is this a chordal progression, using lower case letters as minors and capitals as majors or a scale. If its a scale what do You mean by the case differences? Thanks
        • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

          Fri, December 15, 2006 - 10:35 PM
          Sorry.

          It's just a descending scale of pitches.

          It should read...

          d c A G# F# (E Eb) D

          Now, though, I've started to hear it more like...

          c A G#... F# (Eb E) D
          • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

            Wed, December 20, 2006 - 7:25 PM
            ... and I believe the lowercase notes indicate a higher octave, ie 'c' is a minor 3rd above 'A'.
            • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

              Wed, December 20, 2006 - 8:50 PM
              thanks, I was wondering about that, Harvey.

              By the way:

              Merry Christmas, Happy Channukha and a bodacious Kwaaza
              to everyone.
              I hope you are all doing well and surrounded by people who love you
              and let you know it.

              thanks for this tribe. I've learned a lot here.
              Rick (who just got fantastic new reeds for his Armenian Duduk and Turkish Saz)
              • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                Tue, May 29, 2007 - 11:57 PM
                The scale I tend to use a lot in my trance music is: C Db E F G Bb B C
                Sometimes while going across octaves I might use a b7 instead so it doesn't get too chromatic with the 7, 1 and b2
                • Re: LIST OF WORLD MUSIC SCALES: C to C

                  Wed, May 30, 2007 - 4:15 AM
                  Nice one, Ra.

                  without the inclusion of the b7 this is the Indian Raga called Bhairava (pronounced BIE RAHV)

                  I actually love this one a lot precisely because it has that chromatic run while also containing
                  two minor third jumps.

                  I've been playing the hell out of that exact Raga the past couple of weeks on piano, voice and fretless bass.

                  It's very eastern and exotic sounding to my ears.

                  I also love Lydian flat Seven for a similar reason (it sounds really exotic and eastern).................I've probably watched to many
                  cheesy American 50's and 60's exotic films. Indian classical musicians must just cringe when they hear some of those soundtracks......lol

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