Even More Scales from the Hungarian Minor Pentatonic

After experimenting with my new friends the Hungarian Pentatonics yesterday, I decided to look a bit more carefully at what they can do for us. Today I started with what I'm calling the Hungarian Minor Pentatonic: 1 b3 #4 5 b7.

The big theme yesterday was finding ways to make heptatonic scales out of these pentatonics, so the first thing I did today was look up the 7-spectrum of this scale in Spectral Analysis of Scales:

This takes a bit of digesting but the information's all there. These are all the 7-note scales that contain Hungarian Minor Pentatonic somewhere inside them. I don't include scales that are modes of each other, so one scale in the table really means seven modes. For this reason I tend to call these "scale groups" rather than just "scales".

I also don't include any that have tons of stacked-up semitones or enormous intervals (but I don't think that's really an issue in this case).

The process of generating the book was necessarily automated, and the results aren't always are friendly as they could be, but using this table in conjunction with Scale and Arpeggio Resources is illuminating.

Here's the list with more friendly scale-names, and a bit of classification to help us find our way around. In each case I'll describe how to play the named scale using MiP (my shorthand for Hungarian Minor Pentatonic) plus two more notes.

You can work out how to do all the modes from there, but for the sake of comparison if the scale named isn't based on 1 MiP I've included how to build a different scale in the same group with 1 MiP.

Scale groups containing one minor third:

  • Harmonic Minor: b6 MiP + 1 & 4 [1MiP + 3 & 6]
  • Harmonic Major: 4 MiP + 2 & 5 [1MiP + 2 & 6]
  • Suvarnangi: 1 MiP + b2 & 6
  • Namanarayani: 6 MiP + 2 & b5 [1MiP + 4 & 6]

Scale groups containing two minor thirds:

  • Hungarian Minor: 1 MiP + 2 & b6
  • Gayakapriya: b2 MiP + 4 & 6 [1MiP + 3 & b6]
  • Kamavardani: b2 MiP + 7 & #4 [1MiP + 4 & b7]
  • Yagapriya: 6 MiP + 4 & 5 [1MiP + b6 & b7]
  • Shubhapantuvarali: 1 MiP + b2 & b6
  • Neetimati: 1 MiP + 2 & #6

Scale groups containing a major third:

  • Navaneetam: 5 MiP + 1 & 6 [1MiP + 2 & 4]
  • Jalarnavam: 5 MiP + 1 & b6 [1MiP + b2 & 4]
  • 1maj + b2maj + 2: b2 MiP + 2 & 4 [1MiP + b2 & 3]
  • 1maj + b2maj: b2 MiP + b3 & 4 [1MiP + 2 & 3]

Here are the 1 MiP-based ones in dots and lines form, in case that's more digestible (if the above was meaningless to you, this might clarify things):

(Took me a few goes to get the bugs out of the above -- there's a good chance I missed some so proceed with care.)

What if you only knew Hungarian Minor Pentatonic? If you only want to play heptatonics you could only make modes of Hungarian Minor. These are pretty interesting. I've been playing the other 1 MiP mode, Rasikapriya (1 MiP + 3 MiP), a bit and it's ver interesting: a heavily altered, jazzy major 7 sound that also sort-of works as a dissonant choice on a minor chord. So one option here is to consider 1 MiP as your basic sound and shift to b6 MiP for a strongly minor sound or 3 MiP for a more major one. Since 1, 3, b6 are separated by major thirds, this is easy to find if you know the "Giant Steps" cycle.

Of the other modes, I sometimes play Double Harmonic already using the arpeggio pair 1 Maj7 + b2 Maj 7. Here is another way: b2 MiP + 4 MiP. This is also easy to find because it's just Hungarian Minor up a semitone. And that makes it easy to find the other "Giant Steps"-related mode, b2 MiP + 6 MiP, which is Senavati b4. That's two more modes.

The other three are Chakravakam b5 (b5 MiP + b7 MiP), Augmented #9 (4 MiP + 6 MiP) and Kanakangi b5 (2 MiP + b5 MiP). Evidently Chakravakam b5 and Kanakangi b5 have the same "Giant Steps" relationship, but with the 1 MiP shifted up a tone instead of a semitone. Chakravakam b5 should work as a mildly altered dominant sound, maybe in places where you'd use Misolydian b13, whereas Kanakangi b5 has an ambiguous, suspended sound that should work almost anywhere.

Augmented #9 is the odd one out since it doesn't have a "Giant Steps" partner (that would be a hypermode). It looks like it should be an awesome way to play on a tonic Maj 7 chord so I'll probably have a closer look at that at the end of this process.

Lots of different sounds here to experiment with, including some very exotic ones, but all with a "family resemblance" due to sharing five of their seven notes.

I'll probably do the same exercise with the other two "Hungarian" pentatonics in due course, but this is plenty to be going on with.