#1
I mean i know they sound cool but really what chords can be used over them?

"There is no point in constructing chords from exotic scales because the vast majority of them are completely harmonically useless. The chords will not serve to establish any sort of tonal center, and most of them would be little more than tone clusters."
- Archeo Avis

I was told that in my previous thread. So how should I go about playing exotic scales?
#2
I use them mostly just to give the slightest hint of an exotic sound. So I'll be soloing normally in a progression using standard, diatonic harmony, and may simply throw in a qucik, two second lick, that uses an exotic scale just to give the solo an ever so slightly unusual flavour.
#3
Quote by michal23
I use them mostly just to give the slightest hint of an exotic sound. So I'll be soloing normally in a progression using standard, diatonic harmony, and may simply throw in a qucik, two second lick, that uses an exotic scale just to give the solo an ever so slightly unusual flavour.


This is usually a good use for them but I also find that they work well in situations where there is little to no harmonic movement in a solo section, like if you were soloing over Immigrant Song; the riff has basically no harmony so you can solo over it with basically whatever you want, therefore you can pick any scale you want to give it an exotic feel.
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#4
what do you mean by exotic scales? which ones

anyway a different scale other than one based on the standard major scale can sometimes inspire a different kind of melody. Someone might say to just throw in chromatic passing notes or something like that, but using a specific scale can sometimes give you a different idea. So I see no reason not to experiment.
#6
Most harmony is either major/minor key or mode. If you understand the primacy of the
note functions of the major scale, you'll understand better how it all works. In effect,
you can see ANY exotic scale as just alterations to the major scale, so you can really
create whatever scale you want if you understand the functions most in relation to
major/minor harmony.

People seem to like to brag about knowing lots and lots of scales, but I think all they're
really doing is trying to add a lot of quantity and hope it eventually makes sense, at the
expense of really understanding the 1 scale that's most important.

In practice, it's helpful to know harmonic minor, melodic minor, diminished and whole tone
as well. Mostly I just stick with the major scale and understanding its alterations. Exotic
scales are far less important or even necessary.
#7
What's exotic scales? Some exotic scales are functional, other's are merely a set of notes.

If u see Harmonic minor as exotic, it's useable.

A chinese scale is also useable, but is not used as a harmonical device, but used for wind chimes which are usually tuned to those notes, and are merely for the harmonic strong effect (it's actually just pentatonic scale) and called chinese because it' s used alot in wind chimes.


Some dude decided to take all note sets from the world and named it scales. It's deceiving, cause people think with chinese scale they can play chinese music. It's merely used to categorize note sets, used for unique things, and not to compose off.


If u compose in an exotic scale, then u can probably trace it back to a major/minor or other traditional harmonic system, and it will be pure coincidence.


It all has to do with context, and harmonic movement.

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#8
Quote by amd123
I mean i know they sound cool but really what chords can be used over them?

"There is no point in constructing chords from exotic scales because the vast majority of them are completely harmonically useless. The chords will not serve to establish any sort of tonal center, and most of them would be little more than tone clusters."
- Archeo Avis

I was told that in my previous thread. So how should I go about playing exotic scales?


Beware of advice that uses belittling terms such as "useless, or "little more than". A sentence like the one you quoted is an attempt to make the poster appear more advanced, but considers nothing beyond that.

To understand "exotic" scales you really need to have a solid understanding of traditional tonal harmony. Start with the Major and minor scales, and work your way from there. Don't be in a hurry to get to scales with big long impressive names. You will find that the foundation of the Major scale will serve as a solid reference point with which to understand most of the other scales you will come across.

- learn your basics 1st
- learn to apply those basics
- move on 1 step at a time
- don't be in a hurry or jump ahead to far

You could learn some "exotic" scale patterns and use your ear now if you want to explore, but if you want to understand them, you need to go through the process of learning, and you need to start at the beginning.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Dec 7, 2008,
#9
What the ****? The harmonic minor scale is called harmonic for a reason, because it really comes in handy regarding harmony. Natural minor chord progressions are notorious for lacking movement, but the harmonic minor scale adds in the major seventh, which makes the V chord dominant instead of minor, which leads to greater harmonic tension and drive.

Exotic scales take work to understand, and to just offhandedly dismiss them is incredibly ignorant. One should analyze the various harmonic and melodic pros and cons of all scales, and write off none. This is music, for God's sake.
#10
Beware of advice that uses belittling terms such as "useless, or "little more than". A sentence like the one you quoted is an attempt to make the poster appear more advanced, but considers nothing beyond that.


*sigh*
Don't assume my motives.

Please provide an example of an exotic scale (he used the byzantine scale as an example) that can be harmonized to create a tonally useful progression, and that melodically wouldn't be far better thought of as an alteration to the major scale in almost any Western tonal context.

The harmonic minor scale is called harmonic for a reason, because it really comes in handy regarding harmony. Natural minor chord progressions are notorious for lacking movement, but the harmonic minor scale adds in the major seventh, which makes the V chord dominant instead of minor, which leads to greater harmonic tension and drive.


Harmonic minor is not "exotic", nor is it a scale. It is a convention within minor tonality. Its treatment as a scale in its own right is actually a fairly recent invention.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
Last edited by Archeo Avis at Dec 7, 2008,
#11
Quote by Archeo Avis
*sigh*
Don't assume my motives.

Please provide an example of an exotic scale (he used the byzantine scale as an example) that can be harmonized to create a tonally useful progression.


Harmonic minor scale. "Summertime" by George Gerschwin.

Classic i-V7 vamp, with a iv-V7-i turnaround. The dominant fifth adds harmonic motion, and it doesn't nearly as good w/ standard natural minor diatonic harmony.

John Coltrane's "One down, one up" is full of Whole-tone scale cliches. It's fantastic for creating tension. C'mon man, open your freakin' eyes!
#12
I wouldn't consider harmonic minor "exotic". It's the minor key.

If you mean "exotic scales" in the sense I take it, that is, melodic structures from outside of the major/minor basic western tonal rut, then there are two ways for these structures to make sense:

1: Within their original context: If you can play that, fine, that's what people expect.
2: Re-contextualized into another musical system, the "exotic" sound.

I'll use the language metaphor here: Je peux parler un peu de francais. This is situation [1]; these words make sense, it's french. Situation [2] might be the use of a word that's been borrowed from french often, like "melee", or if I were to say something like "on faut le faire" because it means what I mean better than an English equivalent.

Here's where it can go wrong, though: The only Italian that I know is built from the terms I find on sheet music. I couldn't construct much of a sentence, let alone hold a conversation just because I know these, and I couldn't even if I had an Italian-English dictionary. I have to know more about how they are used. If I just strung them together like I would English words, I might be understood, but not well.

Exoticisms are the same: you can re-contextualize into your music, it's great, sounds good, but don't try to build a larger creation using the grammar of your musical system, because it won't work.
#13
As stated, the harmonic minor is not, traditionally, a scale, and even in more modern terms, is not considered an exotic scale.
#14
Quote by KenjiBeast
Harmonic minor scale. "Summertime" by George Gerschwin.

Classic i-V7 vamp, with a iv-V7-i turnaround. The dominant fifth adds harmonic motion, and it doesn't nearly as good w/ standard natural minor diatonic harmony.

John Coltrane's "One down, one up" is full of Whole-tone scale cliches. It's fantastic for creating tension. C'mon man, open your freakin' eyes!


Harmonic minor is the basis of Western minor harmony, and is a convention within minor harmony, not a scale (in most genres). How in the blue hell does it qualify as an "exotic scale".

Coltrane's harmony is diatonic (in function). The melody tends to closely follow the changes, but even when it doesn't, he's certainly not creating a tonally useful progression with the whole-tone scale.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#15
Alright, Diminished scale. You can't get much more far out than diminished, right?

I've heard myriad jazz pianists work in diminished concepts into their harmonic fabric, not just regarding passing tones, but all the way up to fully-blown harmonic theory.

http://www.jacmuse.com/melodic%20resources/newpage2b.htm

It's sort of out there, but the applications are there, and they're intuitive. Dig where I'm coming from?
#16
I'm a big believer in learning through experimenting. If you feel like messing around with a wierd scale, learn it and try it out and see what you can do with it. There's nothing stopping you, and nothing to lose from trying.
#17
^^Kenji, the Diminished scale is not an exotic scale.

Example of an "exotic" scale:
Mela Jyotisvarupini
R, #2, 3, #4, 5, b6, b7
Which would probably be better looked at as Natural minor with #4 and an added major 3rd with the 9 omitted or something along those lines.
Last edited by TheShred201 at Dec 7, 2008,
#18
Quote by KenjiBeast
Alright, Diminished scale. You can't get much more far out than diminished, right?

I've heard myriad jazz pianists work in diminished concepts into their harmonic fabric, not just regarding passing tones, but all the way up to fully-blown harmonic theory.

http://www.jacmuse.com/melodic%20resources/newpage2b.htm

It's sort of out there, but the applications are there, and they're intuitive. Dig where I'm coming from?


Define "diminished scale (it can refer to different things), and provide an example of a tonal progression derived entirely from said scale.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#19
Alright, I think we have different definitions regarding some vital things.

It seems to me that you folks define what I call "Ethnic" scales as exotic scales. Like.. the Spanish eight-tone scale, that counts as an exotic scale, right?

What I consider an exotic scale is anything markedly different from the traditional western diatonic scale. So I think we've got a glitch there.

By diminished scale, I'm referring to the whole-half, or half-whole symmetric Octatonic scale.

Now, I honestly can't name any concrete progression right off the bat, but I use it very regularly when comping modal stuff. i.e. non/polytonal.

That being said, I still believe that artificial or "unorthodox" scales all have their own individual harmonic complexities and personalities about them. To restrict oneself only to the construction of chords that fit within the Western theory of music is at best unjustly hobbling oneself musically, and at worst, can be a form of snobbery. Each scale has it's own strengths and weaknesses, that must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

I'm not saying that country musicians should start strumming on byzantine chords, but perceived dissonance and consonance is notoriously a culturally-driven concept.
#20
To restrict oneself only to the construction of chords that fit within the Western theory of music is at best unjustly hobbling oneself musically, and at worst, can be a form of snobbery


No one is suggesting that. This argument is specifically about cramming exotic scales into a Western tonal framework.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#21
Quote by KenjiBeast
What the ****? The harmonic minor scale is called harmonic for a reason, because it really comes in handy regarding harmony. Natural minor chord progressions are notorious for lacking movement, but the harmonic minor scale adds in the major seventh, which makes the V chord dominant instead of minor, which leads to greater harmonic tension and drive.
As arch said, harmonic/melodic minor is not a scale (in practical use) it's more of a convention that can be written as a scale when teaching. As we're talking about writing music here, don't think of it as a scale.

You would seldom write a minor melody with JUST the harmonic minor or JUST the melodic minor. Instead you would use a mixture of the harmonic, melodic and natural minor "scales." To create a singable (therefore catchy) melody that also resolves, you need to use parts of each scales.
Therefore, minor scales aren't really a scale in your sense, more of a means of resolving on a minor chord with minor tonality.

Now, to a real answer

The majority of the cultures on this planet (except for *some* middle-eastern/indian cultures and some tribal cultures, which I'll explain later) use scales based off the pentatonic scale. This phenomenon means each culture uses a very similar scale. You can hear very overt tonal similarities between celtic cultures and chinese cultures, as they both use pentatonics heavily. Our own major scale is based loosely from penatonics (take a penatonic, add a few nice sounding notes and you get the major scales), which we can thank the greeks for. Even american indian cultures generally use pipes tuned to pentatonics.
Therefore, there are no real exotic scales, that "exotic" sound you're hearing is really just an exotic tone from an exotic instrument. Play a song on a bagpipe and than play the same song on a koto and you'll hear the difference.

There are exceptions though. Many middle-eastern scales are actually microtonal. This means they have more notes in there system than we do. We can't possibly play these true exotic scales on guitar.
The "major" scale equivalent of arabian music is actually this scale with a note inbetween a minor third and a major third as the third (possibly fourth?) degree.
This microtonal music has spread throughout eastern europe and india from the middle east, which is why some eastern european cultural music (gypsy, romanian, some balkan cultures) and some indian music (keeping in mind, india is probably the most culturally diverse nation on our planet) has that exotic feel. Study how humans have migrated and you'll see what I mean.
Than why can you play a gypsy scale on guitar? My only guess is that in an effort to play their music on western instruments, they bastardized their scales (changing some notes a few cents) so they were playable.

So if you want to learn about some ethnic music, learn about middle-eastern music and how it is played. Don't expect to be able to apply it to western music though.
#22
Quote by demonofthenight
As arch said, harmonic/melodic minor is not a scale (in practical use) it's more of a convention that can be written as a scale when teaching. As we're talking about writing music here, don't think of it as a scale.

You would seldom write a minor melody with JUST the harmonic minor or JUST the melodic minor. Instead you would use a mixture of the harmonic, melodic and natural minor "scales." To create a singable (therefore catchy) melody that also resolves, you need to use parts of each scales.
Therefore, minor scales aren't really a scale in your sense, more of a means of resolving on a minor chord with minor tonality.

Now, to a real answer

The majority of the cultures on this planet (except for *some* middle-eastern/indian cultures and some tribal cultures, which I'll explain later) use scales based off the pentatonic scale. This phenomenon means each culture uses a very similar scale. You can hear very overt tonal similarities between celtic cultures and chinese cultures, as they both use pentatonics heavily. Our own major scale is based loosely from penatonics (take a penatonic, add a few nice sounding notes and you get the major scales), which we can thank the greeks for. Even american indian cultures generally use pipes tuned to pentatonics.
Therefore, there are no real exotic scales, that "exotic" sound you're hearing is really just an exotic tone from an exotic instrument. Play a song on a bagpipe and than play the same song on a koto and you'll hear the difference.

There are exceptions though. Many middle-eastern scales are actually microtonal. This means they have more notes in there system than we do. We can't possibly play these true exotic scales on guitar.
The "major" scale equivalent of arabian music is actually this scale with a note inbetween a minor third and a major third as the third (possibly fourth?) degree.
This microtonal music has spread throughout eastern europe and india from the middle east, which is why some eastern european cultural music (gypsy, romanian, some balkan cultures) and some indian music (keeping in mind, india is probably the most culturally diverse nation on our planet) has that exotic feel. Study how humans have migrated and you'll see what I mean.
Than why can you play a gypsy scale on guitar? My only guess is that in an effort to play their music on western instruments, they bastardized their scales (changing some notes a few cents) so they were playable.

So if you want to learn about some ethnic music, learn about middle-eastern music and how it is played. Don't expect to be able to apply it to western music though.



You know, I think there should be some kind of lessons about middle-eastern music in this site. Whenever I try to find some site to learn middle-eastern music, it only states the basics and not a step-to-step didactic program to learn it completely (well, and forget about indian classical teachers in my neighbourhood)...
Well, that is supposing someone knows all about middle-eastern music, or at least one culture's type of music...
#23
Quote by gonzaw
You know, I think there should be some kind of lessons about middle-eastern music in this site. Whenever I try to find some site to learn middle-eastern music, it only states the basics and not a step-to-step didactic program to learn it completely (well, and forget about indian classical teachers in my neighbourhood)...
Well, that is supposing someone knows all about middle-eastern music, or at least one culture's type of music...
Alot of tribal elders would only want to teach their music to people of their tribe. Alot of tribes could be very xenophobic, thus the reason for not wanting to publish their secrets on the internet.

How would you like it if some punk came up to you and demanded to know how your family cooks their pasta (for some reason, I'm assuming you're italian)? I'd tell the little fucker to suck my dick.
#24
Quote by demonofthenight
Alot of tribal elders would only want to teach their music to people of their tribe. Alot of tribes could be very xenophobic, thus the reason for not wanting to publish their secrets on the internet.

How would you like it if some punk came up to you and demanded to know how your family cooks their pasta (for some reason, I'm assuming you're italian)? I'd tell the little fucker to suck my dick.


Well, I can always make up an identity of the son of the daughter of the tribe's elder or some sorts and then they can teach me

But there are some popular "mahdame paranasada dora" whatever guys that kind of "popularized " indian and eastern-music, etc. So I guess there must be some info on how to learn it...