Learn Something New Everyday - Egyptian Scale

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

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Ultimate Guitar
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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------------------------------------|

--14-17-19-22-24-----------|--0--0----------||
---------------------------|--7--0--0--0----||
---------------------------|--9--7--9--7----||
---------------------------|--9--9--9--7----||
---------------------------|--7--9--0--0----||
---------------------------|--0-------------||
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.

63 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    AlanHB
    I play this scale with b3 and b6 accidentals. I call it the "minor scale".
    amonamarthmetal
    I play it the way it is written. I call it the minor pentatonic scale.
    daniel.kPL
    Egyptian scale is one of the min pentatonic scale modes. Do you even get the point of modal music?
    AlanHB
    ^ Is the point playing the same notes as the minor scale and calling it a mode?
    daniel.kPL
    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... ?
    AlanHB
    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?
    daniel.kPL
    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
    daniel.kPL
    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!
    AlanHB
    ^ 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.
    crazysam23_Atax
    @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.
    DreamGate
    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?)
    daniel.kPL
    @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)
    Levitt8
    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).
    daniel.kPL
    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.
    AlanHB
    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.
    Lefty7Stringer
    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.
    AlanHB
    ^ 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.
    Lefty7Stringer
    The last 10 seconds was what I intended you to listen to.
    AlanHB
    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.
    Lefty7Stringer
    The preceding key is a Cm, what set of notes does it end on I ask you?
    AlanHB
    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.
    Lefty7Stringer
    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?
    AlanHB
    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.
    crazysam23_Atax
    @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.
    Lefty7Stringer
    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!
    forrestb1
    "you will have enough material to record your own album YOURS album." Priceless.
    hadee.wee
    do you mean that it works over e-f#-a?or e-f#m-a?
    daniel.kPL
    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!
    mariocarl
    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.