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Arabian/Middle East sounding scales

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kirbywrx, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Hey all

    since ive restrung my bass EADGC i found that i can get an almost sitar sorta sound playing things with the open G and one note on the C. Sorry to tab this out, but its the only way i can explain it: EG:


    That sorta thing. It almost sounds evil :D. Anyway ive decided that im going to make a little run like this into a little bass doodle/solo, so, could anyone give me some insight to some arabic sounding scales or modes? What are some characteristics of Arabian Music that make it sound Arabian?

  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    sus4 chords and major 4th intervals in harmonies sound very arabic. shoot, standard sus chords can have a very large element of that "lawrence of arabia" sound.

    there's a riff in the song hemispheres by rush that has a very arabic sound to it - it's a root-3rd-5th-7th progression, with the same progression a 1/2 step up, including a bunch of sus notes. sounds really cool, try it out (c-c#-e-f-g-g#-b-c).
  3. maxy


    Jun 24, 2004
    Do a major scale with a flat 2 and flat 6. Thats really like the best arabic sound.

    Its like


    This is like E minor mode for C major scale with a normal 3rd instead of a b3rd.
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I'm a big fan of the half-whole diminished scale. Not exactly Arabic, but it does have some elements of that. To play this scale, play a note, then a half step up, then a whole step, then a half step, etc. Fun!
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, jaco used that a lot.
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Intersting.. I suspect it sounds middle eastern because of the two augmented 2nds (minor 3rds) in the scale. The same interval that give harmonic minor it's distinctive sound.
  7. daddyo


    Jun 9, 2004
    British Columbia
    Try a harmonic minor scale with a sharp 4th. I learned this as the Ritchie Blackmore scale.
  8. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Different mode of the same scale that maxy mentioned. Yours starting on A is

    A B C D# E F G# A

    Maxy's scale is the 5th mode of that:

    E F G# A B C D#

    (E major w/ flat 2 (F) and flat 6 (C)).
  9. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    The Phrygian and Locrian modes (eg C scale starting on E or B) are good. Kirby, if I were to extrapolate a scale from your notes I'd call it Phrygian -- minor 2nd, flat 7th. If the 5th (D) was flat though, call it Locrian.

    Also, various modes of harmonic minor -- the Turkish "hijaz" scale is the 5th mode of harmonic minor. In A that would be:

    A Bb C# D E F G
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    yeah, i kinda like the 5th mode of h minor... i've heard it called the spanish scale. i know naming scales is irrelevant, but often it helps me remember them.
  11. maxy


    Jun 24, 2004
    It seems there a lot more modes than the major/minor scales. Its just exploration right?

    I searched the scale up in gt pro and its the byzantine scale.
  12. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    There are seven modes of the major scale (one of which, the Aeolian, is known as the "natural minor" scale).

    Then there are seven modes each of the melodic minor scale, and seven modes of the harmonic minor scale.

    There are many other scales that are not already included in these 21, and they will have more modes of their own (not all will have seven -- for instance, there are only four modes of the whole-half octatonic scale; and only one mode of the whole-tone scale).
  13. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Something similar to the 5th form of the harmonic minor -- raise the 7 and add a 7##, so the whole thing in C would be C Db E F G Ab Bb B. Definitely my favourite of the "arabian" scales.