The Tritone Scale - With Jens Larsen

The tritone scale is a great symmetric scale that you can use as a tool for making some interested dominant 7th lines. In this lesson, I will go over how it is constructed, suggest a few exercises and give you some examples of how you can use the scale in a cadence.

The Tritone Scale - With Jens Larsen
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The tritone scale is a great symmetric scale that you can use as a tool for making some interesting dominant 7th lines. In this lesson, I will go over how it is constructed, suggest a few exercises and give you some examples of how you can use the scale in a cadence.

The tritone scale is a synthetic scale like the diminished or whole tone scale. What I mean by that is that it is a construction of notes and not something like a key. That doesn't mean that you can't put it to good use in a tonal context. The fact that it is symmetrical makes it in some ways easy to use on guitar and you can in general find some good sounds from the tritone scale to vary your dom7th vocabulary a bit.

The tritone scale can be viewed as a triad pair, where it is constructed by two major triads a tritone apart. This means that it is a subset of the diminished scale which is symmetrical not only in tritones but also in minor 3rds.


In this lesson all the examples are using the scale you get when combining the A major and Eb major triads. In example 1 you see the scale written out not as triads but as a scale with a symmetrical fingering:


If you play the scale in diatonic triads you will notice that you get the two triads in inversions:



You can also make the observation that the scale contains both A7 and Eb7 so you can play it in symmetrical dom7th arpeggios:


A very common pattern that is used in this scale is this way of changing the triads together like this:


I have heard both Michael Brecker and Arch Enemy use this.

Using the Scale on a Dominant 7th Chord

In the following examples I am demonstrating how you can use this on a dominant that resolves to a tonic chord.

The first example is making a variation on the pattern from example 4 so that it is not the same on both triads and a little bit less predictable. For my taste it is more useful to try to avoid too much symmetrical sounding lines and use that it is technically easy but change it so that it is surprising to the ear, and thus a stronger melody.


The 2nd line is trying to move a bit away from the symmetrical aspect and using something that the scale also has: there are a few places where you can easily do trills. The line starts out with an A major triad and the moves up in position to make a trill on the 5th(E) of A. From there it continues with descending A and Eb first inversion triads to resolve to a Dmaj7.


The third example uses an almost pentatonic pattern that is also shifts symmetrically to be part of A7 and the part of Eb7. After that it continues with an 2nd inversion A major triad and an Eb in 1st inversion before it resolves to F# on Dmaj7.


The way I have demonstrated the use of the scale with dominant 7th with some of the traditional or 1st choice patterns and what you can do with them is fairly basic and should give you a good grip on getting started using this scale.

I hope you can use the material in the lesson to make you own lines and add another sound to your dom7th vocabulary!

The Other Tritone Scale

Since this scale is a subset of the diminished scale we could also approach a dominant by using the "other triad pair" so in this case it would be making lines with C and F# triads. If you want me to make a lesson on this then please let me know by commenting on the video or send me an e-mail.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here: Tritone Scale

About the Author:
By Jens Larsen. There are more lessons on his website. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Subscribe to his YouTube channel and feel free to connect with him via Instagram, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

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    Demonrob83
    Very nice lesson once again Jens, there is an error in Example 4, in the G string must be 6 9 8 and is noted 6 7 8.