Arabic scale

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Arabic scale

Postby glassynails » Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:49 pm

Here's a little "arabic" sounding scale that I came up with by ear in E.

E F G# A B C D E

Is this an arabic scale and or are there other names or versions of similar?

Also. Isn't it true that TRUE arabic scales would have tones that are in between our western half steps, such as Ravi Shankars music on the Sitar?

Thanks :)
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Re: Arabic scale

Postby Aryeh » Sat Dec 25, 2010 7:55 pm

glassynails wrote:Here's a little "arabic" sounding scale that I came up with by ear in E.

E F G# A B C D E

Is this an arabic scale and or are there other names or versions of similar?

Also. Isn't it true that TRUE arabic scales would have tones that are in between our western half steps, such as Ravi Shankars music on the Sitar?

Thanks :)


The scale you made up is called a Phrygian Dominant it's used in Klezmer and Flamenco as well as some Progressive Rock/Metal - more info about it here -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsy_scale

http://guitar.about.com/library/bl091399.htm


As for the Arabic tones-the octave is indeed divided up into 24 equal parts - 24 tone equal temperament or 24-TET -

Check out these Wiki articles about their tonal system and modes called Maqam

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_tone_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabian_maqam
Last edited by Aryeh on Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Arabic scale

Postby neil_cincy187 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:13 pm

glassynails wrote:Here's a little "arabic" sounding scale that I came up with by ear in E.

E F G# A B C D E

Is this an arabic scale and or are there other names or versions of similar?

Also. Isn't it true that TRUE arabic scales would have tones that are in between our western half steps, such as Ravi Shankars music on the Sitar?

Thanks :)

For future reference there's a website I use every now and then for things like this, all-guitar-chords.com. You can look basically any scale or chord you can think of and it'll give you all the different fingerings for it. Also you can do reverse scales and chords where you put in a scale or chord on the fretboard and it tells you all the different possibilities it could be. Really useful site for me.
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Re: Arabic scale

Postby Alan Green » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:18 pm

Aryeh wrote:
The scale you made up is called a Phrygian Dominant - more info about it here -



Based on the A harmonic minor scale
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Re: Arabic scale

Postby Aryeh » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:28 pm

Alan Green wrote:
Aryeh wrote:
The scale you made up is called a Phrygian Dominant - more info about it here -



Based on the A harmonic minor scale


That's exactly right but it's part of any harmonic-minor scale, not just A harmonic minor.

It's the fifth mode of harmonic-minor so if you have an A harmonic-minor scale and you start on the 5th note (in this case E) and go up a full octave you'll get an equivalent phyrygian-dominant.


Harmonic minor scale in A -

A B C D E F G# A

Starting on 5th mode of this scale

E F G# A B C D E

This matches glassynails' scale that he made up and posted here.
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Re: Arabic scale

Postby Fredonia_Guitar_11 » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:54 pm

You can also think of it as a phrygian scale with a raised third. I think that it is just as important to understand what about a scale/mode is characteristic and how to construct one. Basically, learning the "formulas" for the scales and modes. For instance rather than try to think that E Phrygian Dominant is the 5th mode of an A harmonic minor scale (which it is), then find the notes of an A melodic minor scale, then start on E, etc. I find that if you know that the formula for a Phrygian Dominant scale is built as a phrygian scale with a raised third, you can simply start on E and build accordingly E, F (lowered 2nd for phrygian), G# (raised third), A, B, C, D, E.

It also helps to learn the formula in terms of the intervals between scale degrees. In the case of phrygian dominant you have a half step, 1.5 steps, half, whole, half, whole, whole.

To answer your question about "true" arabic scales, Ravi Shankar and the music he played was not arabic at all. Ravi Shankar played Hindustani music. And yes some of their "scales" (because thay aren't exactly comparable to western scales) contain intervals smaller than a half step. However, to our western ears, the phrygian dominant scale does sound "arabic."
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