Making Exotic Scales with Familiar Arpeggios

Struck by a bout of insomnia, I decided to figure out all the 7-note scales that can be made by combining a pair of common triad or seventh arpeggios, one at the root and one somewhere else. Here are the results.

Barry Harris's Sixth Diminished Scale

Here's a great excerpt from a Barry Harris workshop where he introduces an interesting diminished concept, which he (jokingly) calls his "personal scale". It produces a very cool jazz sound by a quite unexpected means. The video is a bit piano-focussed so I thought it might help some guitar players to have a summary from our point of view of the main idea.

Root notes are for wimps: An invitation to hypermodes

There are seven major scale modes, which you can think of as major scales built on 7 different tonics suspended over a single root note. So over a C root we can play the notes from C Major (Ionian), Bb Major (Dorian), Ab Major (Phrygian), G Major (Lydian), F Major (Mixolydian), Eb Major (Aeolian) or Db Major (Locrian). But there are 12 notes in music; what happened to the other five? Step inside...

The Maj7b5 Arpeggio

The Major 7 arpeggio (1 3 5 7) has many uses; it can be superimposed over harmonies in all kinds of ways and I use it a lot. If you flatten the fifth (1 3 b5 7) you get a new sound with different applications. Here I'll talk about some of the possibilities.

Some Dissonant Scales for Minor Chords

I've been exploring some choices for minor chords that don't contain the b3, which give a rather open, not-very-minor quality to your lines. They can work over other chord types too. So if Locrian just isn't doing it for you any more, step inside.

A Special "Altered Pentatonic" Scale

I "discovered" a scale about a month ago when playing with the Ionian b2 (which is now, by the way, part of my regular improvising vocabulary). At the time I thought it was just a curiosity but I liked the sound and since then I've seen it pop up in a few other places.

How Many Heptatonics Contain the Common Pentatonic?

Perhaps you've already learned the good old-fashioned "Pentatonic scale" (major or minor versions, it doesn't matter). Perhaps you know you can learn some of "the modes" (of the Major Scale) by adding two extra notes to one of the modes of this scale. If so, you know how quick and easy that is. Which other seven-note scales can we learn by adding two notes to the Common Pentatonic?

The Common Minor Pentatonic b6 & Scale Spectra

This interesting but little-known scale cropped up in the context of some exotic scale work this week. It's easy to learn, has an unusual but very usable sound and can help with learning several larger scale structures.

Harmonic Major Applications

I just watched a Tom Quayle video on this topic that contains some good information but needed some translation before it made sense to me. I thought I'd provide the translation for anyone else who found it useful.

Simple Arpeggio Superimpositions

This is a quick note on two superimposition strategies that are quite common in jazz, and that enable you to use your triad and seventh arpeggios to create more sophisticated sounds without having to memorize anything new.