Overtone Music Network

a common space & database for harmonic overtones

An overview of all the possible modal scales which arise by systematically distributing the 12 semitones with one high and one low value on each step of a heptatonic lattice.
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Albums: Key Figures

Comment by Skye Løfvander on March 30, 2012 at 8:09am

The prime, the fifth and the octave here recognized as invariables - even though scales exist with alterated fifth or one of these functions omitted.
By combinatorics we arrive at 32 different scales (2^5).
The aim is to open to the vast field of scales outside the major/ minor rule of the last 500 years of western music. It probably won't make much sense to practice the whole sequence, instead choose one or a few of the scales you like and slowly get familiar with what they offer!

P1-m2-M2-m3-M3-P4-TT-P5-m6-M6-m7-M7-P8 = Perfect prime, minor 2nd, Major 2nd, minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th, tritone, perfect 5th, minor 6th, Major 6th, minor 7th, Major 7th, Perfect octave.

Most of the scales have names or are known from a music tradition:

#1 Phrygian/ Bhairavi thaat: P1- m2- m3- P4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#2 Neapolitan minor: P1- m2- m3- P4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#3 Dorian b2/ Javanese: P1- m2- m3- P4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#4 Neapolitan major: P1- m2- m3- P4- P5- M6- M7- P8
#5: P1- m2- m3- Aug4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#6 Raga Todi: P1- m2- m3- Aug4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#7: P1- m2- m3- Aug4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#8: P1- m2- m3- Aug4- P5- M6- M7- P8
#9: Ahava Rabboh/ Freygish/ Jewish/ Hijaz-Nahawand maqam/ Spanish Phrygian/ Spanish gypsy/ phrygian major : P1- m2- M3- P4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#10 Ashkenazy/ Double harmonic minor/ Bhairav thaat/ Mayamalavagowla: P1- m2- M3- P4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#11: P1- m2- M3- P4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#12: P1- m2- M3- P4- P5- M6- M7- P8
#13: P1- m2- M3- Aug4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#14 Poorvi thaat: P1- m2- M3- Aug4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#15: P1- m2- M3- Aug4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#16: Marva thaat: P1- m2- M3- Aug4- P5- M6- M7
#17: Aeolian/ minor/ Asavari thaat: P1- M2- m3- P4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#18: Harmonic minor: P1- M2- m3- P4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#19: Dorian/ Kafi thaat: P1- M2- m3- P4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#20: Melodic minor/ jazz minor: P1- M2- m3- P4- P5- M6- M7- P8
#21: Hungarian gypsy minor: P1- M2- m3- Aug4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#22: Hungarian minor: P1- M2- m3- Aug4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#23: Ukrainian minor: P1- M2- m3- Aug4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#24: P1- M2- m3- Aug4- P5- M6- M7
#25: 'Hindu'/ mixolydian b6: P1- M2- M3- P4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#26: P1-M2- M3- P4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#27 Mixolydian/ Khamaj thaat: P1- M2- M3- P4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#28 Ionian/ major/ Bilawal thaat: P1- M2- M3- P4- P5- M6- M7- P8
#29 Lydian minor: P1- M2- M3- Aug4- P5- m6- m7- P8
#30: P1- M2- M3- Aug4- P5- m6- M7- P8
#31: Lydian dominant/ the acoustic scale: P1- M2- M3- Aug4- P5- M6- m7- P8
#32: Lydian/ Kalyan thaat: P1- M2- M3- Aug4- P5- M6- M7- P8

Indian thaats: Bhairavi #1, Todi #6, Bhairav #10, Poorvi #14, Marwa #16, Asavari #17, Kafi #19, Khamaj #27, Bilawal #28, Kalyan #32.
Church modes: Phrygian #1, Aeolian #17, Dorian #19, Mixolydian #27, Ionian #28, Lydian #32.

Rarely in western music the augmented second (spanning three semitones) has been used in scales. Hear it in #2, 5-16, 18, 21-24, 26 & 30. Two adjacents semitones is normally considered dubious in scales, but here exposed by #5, 6, 13, 14, 21, 22, 29 & 30. In Indian music the full catalogue (+) is utilized.

The scales are grouped in fours with the same lower tetrachord (four lowest notes): 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16, 17-20, 21-24, 25-28, 29-32. The first are 'extreme minor', the last 'extreme Major':
#1-4: 'phrygian tetrachord', the phrygian scale is #1.
#17-20: 'dorian/ aeolian tetrachord'. Dorian is #19.
#25-28: 'Ionian (major)/ mixolydian tetrachord'. Mixolydian is #27.
'Lydian tetrachord': #29-32, 08:24, Lydian modus is #32.
The other groups of lower tetrachords have the augmented second.

Specially for singers: Use the solfege system! Sing for example do- ra/re- me/mi- fa/fi -so- lo/la- te/ti- do for P1- m2/M2- m3/M3- P4/TT- P5- m6/M6- m7M7- P8.

Video: http://youtu.be/_N-H85MfjlU

More (in danish!): www.detspringendepunkt.net

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