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Exotic scales- The Byzantine scale

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by The Mock Turtle Regulator, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. moley's post about a tell-tale sign of a piece being in A minor as opposed to C major being the presence of a G# leading note got me thinking about the Byzantine (eastern, obviously) scale-

    in C we would have-

    C C# E F G G# B C

    so major 3rd and 7th, but flattened 2nd and 6th

    = G# in an apparently Cmajor tonality.

    a chart is on Dave Grossman's exotic scales page-

    okay, this scale is unusual in western music, but there have been uses of it-
    Iron maiden "Fear is the key", bass intro to Suicidal Tendencies' "Asleep at the wheel", George michael's "Father figure" keyboard intro/outro, and my band also used it in a song I linked to here a while ago ("Star of angels").

    what's intriguing about this scale is that the 7th often changes to a minor 7th when descending below the root.

    I found that this scale is the same as the Indian rag "Bhairav"- associated with feelings of awe, and is intended for playing at dawn.

    wow- found a page explaining Indian modes-
  2. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Still, a lot of exotic scales are not based on tertian harmony (every note having a relative 3rd), which explains why sometimes they are difficult to use, or may sound strange.

    Something I've notice about exotic scales is you hear them more as embellishments to the melody, rather than being the basis of harmony in a lot of western music. I would like to hear more harmony written off of exotic scales.

    edit: I went to that website and checked out the scale you were talking about. Very cool sounding scale.
  3. ashton


    Jan 4, 2001
    A 34
    D 235
    G 145

    my apologies for the tab......

    Is that how you would play it in C?
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    This is important: It's Db and Ab, not C# and G#
  5. yeah, I was wondering about that- I assume it's that way to denote which scale degree deviates from the standard C major.

    Ashton, yes, the scale can be played that way- although the 1st fret Ab on the g string is awkward- easier played 6th fret of the Dstring.

    today a guitarist told me the scale is a mode of the harmonic minor, which I worked out would be F harmonic minor (C byzantine appearing to be its fifth mode?) -
    the problem with this is the B note in the Byzantine scale- F harmonic minor has an A# instead (or is it called a Bb - the 4th is natural:confused: )

    so the scale that would fit as the fifth mode of Fharmonic minor would be what's listed on Dave Grossman's page as the Spanish scale, or Jewish scale- b2nd,b6th,b7th

    -but this still ties in with what I mentioned about the 7th of the Byzantine scale often changing to minor when descending below the root.
    crazy stuff.

    anyway, I'll check out the minor modes thread in the FAQ to see if this is covered.
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
  7. >so the scale that would fit as the fifth mode of Fharmonic minor would be what's listed on Dave Grossman's page as the Spanish scale, or Jewish scale- b2nd,b6th,b7th


    -and the name of this mode is...?
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Good question. At this moment in time, the answer eludes me. I'm not so familiar with the modes of the harmonic minor scale. Look at the list of links in DURRL's sticky thread at the top of this forum. One of them points to a thread about that.

    Anyway, it's Phyrgian with a major 3rd.

    EDIT: Oh no, that thread only has the modes of melodic minor.

    Ahh, well, in that case... hmm... invent a name!! Whatever you call it, anyway, it's characterised by b2 b6 b7.
  9. C Db E F G Ab B
    are the notes of the byzantine scale,

    starting on the 3rd degree E,

    E F G Ab B C Db

    E>G = minor 3rd, so isn't this a minor scale(of sorts)?

    also F>Ab =minor 3rd
  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Erm, not really. It's got Ab in it as well as G - and Ab is the enharmonic of G# - which is the major 3rd. So in terms of sound, it's sorta got both the major 3rd and minor 3rd!! (although technically, it's diminished 4th, not major 3rd).

    For it to be a mode of a minor scale - there would have to a minor scale (either harmonic or melodic) in which the only black notes are Ab and Db.

    There isn't.
  11. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK

    I don't know if "Major Phyrgian" is the standard name for it, or what (or if there is one). But yeah, that's the one. Phyrgian w/ major 3rd.
  12. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Phrygian natural 3 is indeed the dominant scale of the harmonic minor system.Before melodic minor modes became common the standard way of altering a dominant 7th chord was to"think harmonic minor",because the V7 chord/scale of harmonic minor has the diatonic b9 and b13.
  13. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I've heard it referred to as the Turkish "hijaz" scale. One of the pieces I play on guitar uses it.
  14. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    This got me thinking about one piece I've been working on lately (I've been considering posting it here for a little analysis :) ).

    I think I'll go ahead and post it before explaining it. :)

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