Whole tone, altered, pentatonic, diminished scales

These scales do not determine a key! Just the blues scale could be a basis for a particular key (Blues).

  • You can use them above all on dominant seventh chords to enrich or vary the colors of improvisation.
  • Be careful and always control by ear when you use diminished scale or whole tone scales because they have notes not belonging to the key.

Whole tone scale : Debussy scale

Whole tone scale – It contains only whole tones. I suggest to use it just on the dominant 7th chord. Whole tone scale is used above all in Jazz music. Debussy and Ravel used this scale.
We can simplify and summarize all 12 whole tone scales to just 2 scale types : “A”; whole tone scale and “B”; whole tone scale.
“A” whole tone scale type

 

“B” whole tone scale type

 

diminished scale

The other 10 whole tone scales have the same notes of these, but of course, they begin from different tones.

For example, D whole tone scale begins from D and has the same notes of the “A”; whole tone scale, while F whole tone scale begins from F and has the same notes of the “B” whole tone scale

Diminished scales

– It is made only by a sequence of half step (semitone) and whole step (tone). I suggest to use it just on the dominant 7th and diminished 7th chord in a jazz context.

Each tone has two different diminished scale:

  1. Diminished scale beginning with half step
  2. Diminished scale beginning with whole step

Also, we can simplify and summarize all 12 diminished scales to just 3 scale types : “A” diminished scale, “B” diminished scale and “C” diminished scale
“A” diminished scale type

 

diminished scale
“B” diminished scale type

B type - diminished scale

“C” diminished scale type

C dimininished scales

The other 21 diminished scales have the same notes of these, but of course, they begin from different tones.

Diminished-whole tone, altered scale

Diminished-whole tone scale ( also called super locrian or altered scale). I suggest to use it just on the dominant 7th chord in a jazz context.

 

diminished whole tone scale

Pentatonic scales

  • Pentatonic scale has just five tones; in this page there is a pentatonic scale chart: it is like the major scale but without fourth and seventh degrees.
  • This a catchy scale and it sounds good on many chords¬†(Maj seventh, min 7th, 7 )
  • You can use different pentatonic scales on a chord.

Learning other scales

For me these are the most used and important scales you can hear in jazz music. Modal scales as Dorian ,Aeolian, Mixolydian, Lydian, Phrygian or Locrian scale are the major scale beginning from other notes. For example, the Dorian scale is the major scale beginning from the second degree.

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