Learn Something New Everyday - Egyptian Scale

In this lesson I will show you the way to the great knowledge in few easy steps...

Ultimate Guitar
The idea of coming up with something new everyday is very simple, and educational, in its own way. Let's say - that you will learn anything new everyday, completely. And by new, I mean something totally unknown or even awkward for you. This method is enormously increasing your musical perception, skills and knowledge. After this kind of activities you will be probably feel more expressive in improvisation, also. Doing this everyday should lead you to the major improvement in every musical aspect or skill. Depending on your approach, you can create your own library of licks, scales, chords, progressions songs and more, and everything done that way will be yours, and accommodated fully. Give yourself a year and you will have enough material to record an album... Yours album. Remember that technique takes more time than theory - your brain is much more powerful than your muscles are. Modern world has got something so fast in it. Everything is done by the speed of a lightning - from cars to the information transfer measured by the speed of your Internet connection. You can access any info trough the smartphone in your pocket within seconds, and it can carry more songs that you will be available to listen in your whole lifetime. But why I am writing this? Because I think that the "speed habit" is a by-product of the technological advancement. Human body changes slower than modern technology... If you know what I mean. Some of my students have the habit to "want it all, FAST". Learning to sweep in 150 bpm in a month, learning how to improvise in all the modes of the major scale in a week, etc, etc. And this is very destructive to the student's motivation. Just remember to give yourself the time to grow your musical muscles (they are not only physical), and enjoy the process of learning and playing, instead of never-ending waiting for the results. Do you know how to play the Egyptian scale? If not - google the recipe, and learn it today. One position is enough. Et voila, tomorrow you will be able to improvise in an Egyptian scale. Sounds sweet, let me show you the method. For today, you don't have to google this scale, I will show you it as the example. Draw a pyramid on your forehead now, just in case. The process looks like this: 1. Take something new. I will pick an Egyptian scale, what a suprise! 2. Learn it theoretically. The recipe is 1 - 2 - 4 - 5 - b7 (so in E, the notes are: E, F#, A, B, D). 3. Use it musically, by improvising or composing. In this case, I have drawn a map of the scale on a sheet of paper, to find some chords that are in that scale and improvise in some weird positions. This is very helpful, but don't rely always on the paper - try to remember the positions! This is the position that I used today. Remember the root is an E note. (I especially like the one-string ride on the high E! Try some crazy bends there.) After the scale position lick, I provided the chords that I used to do a little backing track. Just put them in guitar pro or record normally and jam! The chords revolve around E, F# and A. Egyptian scale.
E |--------------------------------------------10-12---|
B |--------------------------------------10-12---------|
G |-----------------------------7--9--11---------------|
D |-----------------------7--9-------------------------|
A |-----------------7--9-------------------------------|
E |--0--2--5--7--10------------------------------------|

4. Enjoy the results. Just as written above, have fun! Notice that the Egyptian scale is just a mode of the standard minor pentatonic, but instead of resolving the melody to the root, you will resolve it to the 4th from the pentatonic root. This gives you the possibilities to sound different, using the same notes from the pentatonic scale you're in :) So... unleash the creativity! If you like this lesson - record an improvisation in an Egyptian scale and share it on my Facebook profile :), And we will talk about it with the other guitarists! Thanks for your attention! Daniel Kaczmarczyk.

64 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I play this scale with b3 and b6 accidentals. I call it the "minor scale".
    I play it the way it is written. I call it the minor pentatonic scale.
    Egyptian scale is one of the min pentatonic scale modes. Do you even get the point of modal music?
    ^ Is the point playing the same notes as the minor scale and calling it a mode?
    The point is using other tonal center than the pentatonic minor root, still playing the same set of notes. Maybe I should do a lesson about using modal concepts in music and determining tonal centers... ?
    Well the tonal center is determined by the harmonic context, usually the chords. However if you play the "E egyptian scale" taught here in the key of E minor you will be playing the E minor scale. Perhaps you have other intended applications for the scale?
    Where does the article say that its E minor key ? It's B minor, if we would think modally, and if you are thinking about the chords I mentioned, the first E chord is a E-F#-B, so a Esus2
    I think about E egyptian scale as a thrid mode of B minor pentatonic scale And in my way of thniking about it it's not a E minor scale with some notes removed to create egyptian scale peace!
    ^ That's awesome that you think that way but it does not escape the fact that if you play the notes of the minor scale in a minor key, it's going to function as, and sound like, and be the minor scale.
    @daniel.kPL: What? The minor pentatonic scale doesn't have modes? What is up with this obsession with tagging "modal" onto every damn thing?! @Lefty7Stringer: I'm quite sure you don't grasp it.
    This has nothing to do with Egypt or Egyptian "scales or modes" (they would call it maqam). There is no Egyptian scale or mode, they use many, gasp, just like everyone else. Certain maqams may be more associated with the "middle eastern" sound, and others are near impossible to play accurately on a guitar (due to half flats, micro tones, or whatever you want to call them).
    Good way For casual scale building. But you couldve chosen a better scale with a more exotic tonality. (hungarin scale maybe, or maybe its elder brother, the Byzantine scale?)
    @DreamGate - the point of my lesson is to deliver the method using as simpliest means possible, so egyptian scale looked like a good choice. (I think people are sick of seeing minor pentatonics everywhere)
    That's quite a discussion here! I'd like just to add here, that resolving to Esus2 is my goal, since sticking only to the scale notes is the point of this kind of activities. I discovered many, many great sounds by using these restrictions. And the resolutions to the sus2 chords as you say - are never as strong like the V-I or any other common ones, but they have some kind of beauty in them.
    I guess the issue you face is that no mode or key resolves to Esus2. So it's going to be something else if you wish to explain it through Western music theory. I'm just saying that my money is going to be on minor. Even if in place of the minor i you play an isus2, the minor key will be inferred. If you have any recordings of you playing something you feel does in fact resolve to the Esus2 I'd love to hear them though.
    Most modal sets contain a "sus2" chord on the tonic. It's all about what "sound you wish to create. if using an altered tonic chord (e.g. sus2 rather than maj/min) is the desired sound then so be it. Resolving to something much more dissonant like a diminished chord or an augmented chord is much more out of place. What really gives the tonic its resolution is the presence of a perfect fifth. The sus2 chord unlike diminished or augmented, contains a perfect 5th. Whether or not it contains a major third, minor third, major second, or no third at all is dependent simply by the desired tonality.
    There ya go, resolved on a sus2 tonic.
    ^ So what mode or key do you believe this song to be in? I only had a quick listen, sounds like there's a fair bit of modulation. I only want to know what mode or key in this song resolves to a sus2, rather than simply playing it at the end.
    The last 10 seconds was what I intended you to listen to.
    It ends and resolves in a minor key, C minor to be precise. Whilst a Csus2 is played at the end, that does not mean that the song resolves to a sus2.
    The preceding key is a Cm, what set of notes does it end on I ask you?
    I already said it ends on a Csus2, but that doesn't stop it from being in the key of, and therefore resolving to C minor. For example, using your argument the entirety of "Tribute" by Tenacious D would be "modal" because they play the sus2 chord at the end. However if you stop the CD 5 seconds before the end it would be in A minor. Makes no sense dude.
    Resolution has NOTHING to do with the whole preceding song, or phrase, but what set of pitches that the piece RESOLVES to. Take the concept of picardy third, for example. A piece written in minor resolves from an authentic cadence to the same tonic root but in a MAJOR key. So you're saying that context the piece resolves to a minor key because of the preceding harmony?
    Yes, I am saying that harmony dictates the key (or mode), which includes the tonal centre and where the song resolves to. The harmony in the song you posted, the last part anyway, the song modulates a lot, indicates the key is Cm, and quite obviously too. It does not resolve on a Csus2 chord, they play a Csus2 chord at the end. Please note the difference. But hey, maybe there's a mode that resolves to Csus2. I don't know of it however - perhaps you can shed some light on which one it is? I'd also like to point out that when a picardy third is employed, it's a major I being played in a minor key. This means that the piece still resolves to the minor i, it's just that they played a major I in it's place. Hey that's just like that Esus2 we're talking about! Obviously the option to modulate to a major key is a possibility at this point, but if it modulated it would be pretty pointless to refer to it as a picardy 3rd, as it's really just a modulation, or key change.
    @Lefty7Stringer: No, no, they don't. And by definition, a sus2 chord is known as "suspended" because there is no 3rd. It contains a root, a 2nd, & a 5th. It can't be major or minor.
    The perfect 5th is what makes the resolution! If a major or minor sound isn't what you want then the absence of a 3rd is the option! Whether that means no 3rd, an added 2nd, a perfect 4th, or anything else you want!
    do you mean that it works over e-f#-a?or e-f#m-a?
    It basically works over the chords created of the scale tones, and its pretty self-explainatory I used only the scale tones, and I encourage you to experiment with them. Just as I mentioned, the notes are : E, F#, A, B, D. Get creative!
    Great aprroach on learning scales. somone could just take 30 minutes a day and still improve musically using that concept.
    "you will have enough material to record your own album YOURS album." Priceless.
    this is just a b minor pentatonic scale. or the Aeolian mode, of D major. C D E F G A B C is referred as the Egyption scale, and sounds way more oriental.
    great lesson! if the lesson is going to be about having people to learn the egyptian scale, why not just stick to calling it the egyptian scale. most of us do know that if you add a b3 and a b6 it's the minor scale or the aeolian mode. you could say A Harmonic Minor and have someone coming in and calling it E Phrygian Dominant. You could say C Lydian is just D Mixolydian or what ever. But this lesson will probably open-up the mind of beginner guitarists to a Modal way of thinking. "Ok, so here we have the same notes as a B Minor Pentatonic, played over E. Or B Minor Pent resolving to the E. How much difference doesn't that make? The containing F# adds tons to it, if comparing it to an E Minor Pentatonic. This is all mostly to Allan HB. If you're gonna be a theory snob all about it why not try and be a little bit educational about it? To Daniel.kPL thanks for sharing such a lesson! It's a rather nice addition to all the 8-finger-tapping/Sweep-picking all flash lessons. Had i known 15 years ago how to express, improvise and write music in a Modal way it'd of made a huge difference.
    How's it going mate. Well I don't regard myself as a music theory snob per se, but we do have regular discussions about music theory in this forum here http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/for... where you're welcome to clarify any views you may hold on music theory. In the interests of being more "educational" I may as well expand a little, but this will largely be the same argument that happens nearly every time we have modes being used in an illogical way as argued above (for some reason...I'm not aware of "egyptian" being one of the modes). Firstly I can direct you to a blog I wrote a couple of years ago considering the different applications of modes in both their traditional form and how they are used now http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/for... . Secondly I must stress that the tonal centre is determined not by the notes you play over certain chords etc, but by the chords themselves. The combinations of different chords will result in a different tonal centre and harmonic context, which in turn will determine the key (or mode in limited circumstances) and that in turn will determine the function of the notes you play over it. Unfortunately it does not work the other way around. To demonstrate this I will first pose this question: If I am playing C F G and my small dog barks at a cat when I hit the F chord, which in turn makes a whining sound over the G crossing to the C, what key am I in? I pose this question because both the animals are creating sounds at different pitches. What's the difference between a cat screaming on a C note rather than a guitar doing it? The answer my friend is that there is no difference. They must have the same effect on the tonal centre of the song. C F G is a progression in C major. C is the tonal centre throughout and will be heard as "home" during the entire progression. So if your cat screams a Db the tonal centre is still C. And if you play Db the tonal centre is still C. In fact you can play any note you want over C F G and the tonal centre is still C. So what happens then if you play E phrygian over C F G. I'll tell you. Nothing. The tonal centre of C major is C. It's not E. If you were to have a progression where the tonal centre was E, you would hear an actual difference in the sound, because you are playing the notes of C major over a song in the key of C. You can drone an E forever if you like and it'll still resolve to C. The tonal centre is strong. Actually there is one difference if you play the E Phrygian over C F G. You called the C major scale something else. You could call it the super-special awesome magical Spanish scale and it would still be C major. It does not even sound different because it is not different. And this reasoning applies to your comments above. This modal way of thinking you mention is actually a very, very basic version of Chord Scale Theory, which is incorrect in its use, and has no benefits at all. As noted by the author he plays an Esus2 vamp at the end. In western music theory, nothing resolves to an Esus2, so it must resolve to a different chord. I suggested E minor, simply because this would turn his proposed progression into a completely diatonic use of the scale/chords/key. It's the most probable result, although myself you could also argue that it could also be in E major or even E mixolydian. It's hard to tell with such limited application of the scale. However until the intended application of the proposed notes is explained, I'll assume it's the most likely option (in the lack of an Egyptian key or mode available), which is E minor.
    I completely agree with you, Alan! Most people get very confused on Modality vs Tonality when all (like 99.99%) of the music they listen to is tonal. When you're playing over a C F G progression, the tonal center will be C no matter what since that's what everything is leading to.
    No worries mate. The other method of thinking only tends to happen if you disregard the tonal centre and don't use your ears.
    I'll just add another demonstration for the hell of it. I play a C open chord, nothing else. I alternate strums, sometimes I play up, sometimes down. When I play a downstroke I play C first. When I play an upstroke I play an E first. After this I fingerpick the chord and play the E and C notes at the same time. What key or mode am I in for each of these three situations?
    C'mon nobody going to have a guess? I'll give you a clue. If you think that playing an E over a song in C or a C chord is modal, then the upstroke must be in the phyrgian mode and the fingerpick must be in both C major and E phrygian. Is this the correct answer? C'mon - what's the answer?
    psychoacousticly your playing the same chord regardless of what plays first because the C note is still the lowest note sounding. its what ever the lowest note that gives it a feeling of inversion. i think modes deal with melodic phrasing more then single chords.
    or you could be in C major the whole time but according to the author that would be ludicrous
    I understand this is an old thread but I need to clear things up. Lots of wrong information from both sides of this argument. There is indeed an Egyptian Scale. It is derived from the 5 modes of black key pentatonic scales on the piano. It is the third mode, Egyptian,suspended. It is the basis for many forms of African music and is also used in middle eastern modern music. In Mali you traditionally capo your guitar to G standard or similar open tuning. A♭-B♭-D♭-E♭-G♭-A♭ on the piano, the third mode of black key pentatonic scales. In Mali traditionally played in the key of G  (G A C D F G). In African music the tonal centers do not follow the rules set forth by Bach as these traditional forms of music were passed down through centuries from teacher to student and later were translated into western sheet music. Pentatonic scales were used in all kinds of non European music long before Bachs time. Just because we can put it into notational format does not mean it is derivative of the major and minor keys we use in western music. Semantics on paper but entirely different ways of thinking from the ear standpoint.