Exotic Scales?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bassline1414, Sep 23, 2001.

  1. Hello,
    I've been trying to expand my musical boundaries a lot and I've been trying to figure out odd scales and modes. Right now I'm looking for middle eastern-ish scales. Any advice is to where I could find some of if you know of any, please respond.
    Thanks! :)
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Try this book:

    The Bass Grimoire -Complete (by Adam Kadmon)
  3. Yeah, my friend has the Guitar Guimore, but I haven't seen the bass version anywhere. :(
    It's a very cool book, though.
  4. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    here try some of these:
    Arabian Minor Scale:
    1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 7
    Balinese Gamelan
    1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 7
    1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7 8 9 b10 11
    1 b2 b3 3 #4 5 b7 8
    1 b2 3 4 b5 b6 b7 8
    1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 (hmm, remid you of anything?)
    Indian Raga Todi
    1 b2 b3 #4 5 b6 7
    Bhairvi Raga
    1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
    Malkos Raga
    1 b3 4 b6 b7
    Asvari Raga
    1 2 4 5 b6 b7 b6 5 4 b3 2 1
    Laotian (molam)
    1 2 4 5 6
    1 b3 4 b6 b7
    Vietnamese Bac
    1 2 4 5 6 9 11
    Javanese Pelog
    1 b2 b3 5 b6 b9 b10 12 b13
    Japanese Insempo
    1 b2 4 5 b7 b6 5 4 b2 1
    Japanese Iwato
    1 b2 4 b5 b7 8
    Verdi's Enigmatic Scale
    1 b2 3 #4 #5 #6 7 8

    There are LOTS more.....did you know that around the world there are some 387,000 scales? Good luck learning 'em all!
  5. Thanks for list, Max. I'm gonna try toying with some of those scales and see if I can come up with something cool. :)
  6. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    And that's only on a single mackerel! ;)
  7. Ari Schor

    Ari Schor

    Mar 3, 2000
    i was just about to make a post about this!

    Thanks Max!:)
  8. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA

    I've been meaning to ask this question since I learned the Blues Scale: How do you apply such scales and these exotic scales to songs? Does the whole song revolve around the said scale or do you just add the scale in there for flavor?

    For example, say you want to play one of the scales Max mentioned, let's say, Verdi's Enigmatic Scale: 1 b2 3 #4 #5 #6 7 8. So I wanna use C as the first note so it would be:

    C Db E F# G# A# B C

    If I was writing a song and I wanted to use this scale, would I still be writing the song in the key of C major? If I wanted to use a C major chord, would it still be major, being that the G is sharp, or would it be augmented to fit the scale? Or....would I just use this scale sparingly, and not throughout the whole song, and just use accidentals when writing down the scale?

    Just a little confused. I find these scales (including the Blues scale) interesting and would like to apply them to some of my writing.

    Thanks :)
  9. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Good questions! The thing about scales is there is no real correct or incorrect usage; it is all about sound. But, in theory.....
    In the case of the Enigamatic scale in C, technically yes, it would be aug due to the G#....and since chords are formed by harmonizing the notes of the given scale, your standard major scale cycle of chords would now be changed.
    With the blues scale, it is a little different. It can work over both major and minor chords (due to its unique formula), but sometimes works with neither! (Geez, there's an enigma for you!) Harmonizing the notes of the blues scale would give some different chord sequences than a standard maj or minor, and therefore some other options.
    But again, it comes back to what is sounds like, and what your intention is. The wonderful thing about music theory is you can rationalize and substantiate anything after the fact. But the point is does it sound good?
    There are different ways to approach scales in tunes or progressions. Sometimes it is best to find the key center of the tune and use a scale from there. Other times you can "play the changes" by using a different scale for each chord. Still other times you can create "compound" or "composite" scales by converging two scales together (a little of this and a little of that) to go over complex chord cycles.
    It is all different approaches to the same task: fullfilling your intention in a desired and musical way.
    As an example: "I Am The Walrus" theoretically should not work. John Lennon wrote that tune on a dare from George Martin that he could write a tune using only major chords. George had told him, yes you could, but that doesn't mean you should! But he did...against all advice...to prove his point: music theory and all the laws of harmony have nothing to do with music. They are there as a study to better understand and justify this somewhat ephermeal and mystical thing we call music.
    Now does that leave you dazed and confused? If so sit down and practice your Javanese Pelog scales in fourths and create a list of chord harmonizations from there. Then, compose a three minute Etude using those harmonies, and superimpose a lydian melody upon it.....
    all the while repeating your mantra: "does it sound good?"
  10. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    If I were writing a tune, say in the key of C, and somewhere along in the song I wanted to mess around with that Enigmatic Scale, now, would the key signature change or would it still remain at C? I think that's what I'm really confused about. I know in Blues (or is it Jazz? or both?) the key is constantly changing.

    LOL. Yup :D but I will have to read through this..a little..more..slowly. I appreciate your help Max. Just been feeling a little brain-dead lately. LOL.

    Thanks again,
  11. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    I don't know if this will help anyone, but here's a few more scales I found on the net...
  12. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Err... that comes out as a bit of a mess when you load the attachment in Explorer. If you save it to disk as a text file, and then load it into Notepad, it should look a lot better.
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    And that sad part is the only one I know is C major.

    :) :D :cool:
  14. Hi all,

    Neat thread. Now I'll kill it for sure. :)

    While you fretted players out there may be stuck with the half-tones, it's worth noting that e.g. the Javanese scales are built on a totally different basis: their scales are steps in a TEN-per-octave system instead of our twelve. Gamelan Scales Link

    I remember someone (probably Wendy Carlos (edit:It's her album "Beauty in the Beast". See also her web site, wendycarlos.com )) doing some stuff with synths tuned to "weird" scales, including some of the real Gamelan scales. Neat stuff if you're in an all-fretless band. Must freak the heck out of the guitarist, tho. :p

    Also, just to freak yourself out about what you thought was the safe 12-tone series, search for "just intonation" or go to this page..

    Now don't ask me what 12-tone chords go with a 10-tone scale...
  15. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    You are quite right about the beauty of microtonals...and the 10 tone gamelan system. I've been listening to a lot of Northern Indian and Indonesian microtonal stuff lately....tres cool! but a definite adjustment to try to play!
    Perhaps I should have footnoted that scales post: ersatz Gamelan?
  16. So because I'm a freak, and because I play fretless, I've written a small computer program to calculate fret positions and string tunings for almost any scale system.

    So here's a 10-tone-per-octave tuning scheme for a 34" 4-stringer.

    First de/re tune the strings as follows for "Gamelan in E" (this gets you strings tuned to the 4th degree of the ten-tone scale on the next-lower string):
    E A D G
    0 -9 -19 -28

    So E is normal E (41.2 Hz), A is down 9 cents from normal A, etc.

    Now put fret-markers at the following distances (in inches) from the nut:
    0.00 2.28 4.40 6.38 8.23 9.96 11.57 13.07 14.47 15.78
    17.00 18.14 19.20 20.19 21.12 21.98 22.78 23.54 24.24

    Now all you need are scales to play, so here are the main two in terms of steps of the 10-tone scale now laid out on your fingerboard:

    Slendro: 2,2,2,1,3

    e.g. Open E, 2nd position on E, 4th on E, 6th on E or 2nd on A, 7th on E or 3rd on A, 10th on E or 6th on A, etc.

    Pelog: 1,1,3,1,1,1,2

    So go at it. Now you can play basslines with a gamelan ensemble. Or just play groovy-weird solo lines in your room. :)

    (And I got all the info for doing this on the web page previously cited, but if I made any errors, they're my own. :rolleyes: )
  17. JeremyC


    Oct 5, 2001
    Berkeley, CA
    A great source for scales is a book called the Thesaurus of Scales by Nicholas Slonimsky.

    This book has hundreds of pages of scales.

    John Coltrane used this book as practice material.

    He also wrote a book called: Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers since Beethoven's Time

    which is quite amusing.

    Jeremy Cohen