Just got back from a great but exhausting NAMM show in Anaheim, California where two things were the talk of the show: the premier issue of Premier Guitar and Spectraflex cables – both of which, I’m proud to say, I have involvement with. Cheers to everyone that stopped in and said “Hello!” to me at the Spectraflex Cable booth, where I performed and handled artist relations duties.
Apparently you’ve been digging the “new” sounds we’ve been covering thus far with the Oriental scales, because I’m getting a ton of email from readers. That’s awesome! A great way to look at these scales is like adding a new spice to your stew, so to speak. By not overdoing it – using them everywhere and in every song you do – and by using them with “taste” you can really spice up a solo or song. If you’re used to your so-called “church modes” and major/minor pentatonic scales, these will really bring some much-wanted attention your solos.
This month we’ll look at some more “exotic” scales from another area of the world. Let’s take a look at fingerings from the Egyptian scale and the Hindustan. These scales are from Egypt and India respectively. We are going to call the Egyptian scale a “pentatonic” because it has 5 notes to the octave. You’ll remember the word pentatonic comes from the Greek words penta -- meaning five – and tonic – meaning tones. The Hindustan scale, on the other hand, has six notes to the octave, much like, say, the “blues” scales.
Let’s start with the Egyptian scale. The formula for the Egyptian scale is 1, 2, 4, 5, b7, (8va). Try playing this scale against a power chord of the same name as well as a progression that contains the same notes that are in the scale. Keep in mind if you play a chord that contains a note or chord that is not within the pattern, it’ll clash with the tones that are in the scale. You may want to experiment with playing this scale over an I, IV, V progression, as either a major or minor. Since the Egyptian scale contains a flat 7, I would stir towards a minor chord progression, since the flat 7 is in the minor scale and not the major.
The formula for the Hindustan scale is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, b7, (8va). Now, using the Hindustan scale is a little trickier than the Egyptian scale – this is because we have a major third in the pattern, which means we could play it over a major chord but not a major 7th, because that contains a major 7th and a flat 7.
This goes for the chord progressions as well. You can utilize this scale against a major chord progression – just don’t hit the minor 7b5 chord! In reality though, there is no such thing as a bad note, if you know how to maneuver around its dissonance (called “playing outside”). More on this topic in the future. Before you can play “out” you gotta know how to play “in.”
That wraps it up for this month! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at Toshi@TOSHIISEDA.com
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(c) 2007 Toshi Iseda!