Exotic guitar scales

25 Exotic Scales On Guitar - Charts, Diagrams And Audio

This guitar lesson lists 25 exotic scales from different cultures and countries to add new colors to your playing. You'll find two-octave guitar shapes, formula charts, audio files in the key of C for each scale and classified into five main categories : Seven Note Dominant Scales, Seven Note Minor Scales, Seven Note Major Scales, Six Note Scales and Five Note Scales.

Seven Notes (major)

This first chapter lists three major exotic scales made of seven notes : Byzantine, Enigmatic, Persian. Here the formula charts, guitar neck diagrams and audio clips.

1 - Byzantine Scale

The Byzantine scale is better known as double harmonic major and sometimes referred to as Flamenco mode or Major Romani. The formula is 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 3 (major third), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), b6 (minor sixth), 7 (major seventh).

C Byzantine Scale C Db E F G Ab B
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 3 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13) 7

 

Byzantine scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 - Enigmatic Scale

The enigmatic scale has two versions. The ascending form is built with :1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 3 (major third), #4 (augmented fourth), #5 (augmented fifth), #6 (augmented sixth), 7 (major seventh). The descending form has a natural fourth instead, giving the formula 7 - #6 - #5 - 4 - 3 - b2 - 1.

C Enigmatic Scale (ascending) C Db E F# G# A# B
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 3 #4 (#11) #5 #6 7

 

Enigmatic scale 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 - Persian Scale

The Persian scale is also known as Raga Lalita or Chromatic Hypolydian Inverse is made of 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 3 (major third), 4 (fourth), b5 (diminished fifth), b6 (minor sixth), 7 (seventh).

C Persian Scale C Db E F Gb Ab B
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 3 4 (11) b5 b6 (b13) 7

 

Persian scale

 

 

Seven Notes (minor)

This second chapter is dedicated to minor exotic scales built of seven notes : Javanese Pelog, Neapolitan Minor, Neapolitan Major and Hungarian Minor. Here are the related charts and guitar shapes.

4 - Javanese Pelog Scale

The Javanese Pelog scale or Dorian b2 or Phrygian sharp 6 is an Indonesian scale built of 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), b3 (minor third), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), 6 (sixth), b7 (minor seventh). It should not be confused with the Balinese Pelog Scale (discussed below) which is a pentatonic scale.

C Javanese Pelog Scale C Db Eb F G A Bb
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7

 

Javanese pelog scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 - Neapolitan Minor Scale

The Neapolitan minor scale is composed of : 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), b3 (minor third), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), b6 (minor sixth), 7 (seventh). 

C Neapolitan Minor Scale C Db Eb F G Ab B
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13) 7

 

Neapolitan minor

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 - Neapolitan Major Scale

The Neapolitan major scale, despite is name, is a minor scale built with: 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), b3 (minor second), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), 6 (sixth) and 7 (seventh). The main difference with the Minor Neapolitan scale is the sixth which is major.

C Neapolitan Major Scale C Db Eb F G A B
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) 7

 

Neapolitan major

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 - Hungarian Minor Scale

The Hungarian minor scale or double harmonic minor or Gypsy minor is the fourth mode of the double harmonic scale. It is spelled 1 (root), 2 (second), b3 (minor third), #4 (augmented fourth), 5 (perfect fourth), b6 (minor sixth) and major seventh (7). Notice that it is built the same as the harmonic minor scale but with an augmented fourth instead of a natural fourth.

C Hungarian Minor Scale C D Eb F# G Ab B
Formula 1 2 (9) b3 #4 (11) 5 b6 (b13) 7

 

 Hungarian minor guitar scale

Seven Notes (Dominant)

This third chapter is dedicated to dominant scales made of seven notes that are : Overtone, Hindu, Romanian Major, Hungarian Major, Spanish Gipsy, Arabian, Asian. Here are the formula charts and shapes.

8 - Overtone Scale

The Overtone scale is a synthetic scale also known as Acoustic or Lydian dominant, fourth mode of the melodic minor scale. The formula is 1 (tonic), 2 (second), 3 (third) , #4 (augmented fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), 6 (sixth) and b7 (minor seventh).

C Overtone Scale C D E F# G A Bb
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7

 

Overtone scale guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 - Hindu Scale

The Hindu scale is sometimes referred to as Aeolian Dominant, Mixolydian b6 and Major-Minor actually the fifth mode of the melodic minor scale. The formula is 1 (tonic), 2 (second), third (3), perfect fourth (4), perfect fifth (5), minor sixth (b6) and minor seventh (b7).

C Hindu Scale C D E F G Ab Bb
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13) b7

 

Hindu scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 - Romanian Major Scale

The Romanian Major scale is spelled out : 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 3 (major third), #4 (augmented fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), 6 (sixth), b7 (minor seventh). It also called Lydian Dominant Flat 2. Even if its name is major, it is played over dominant chords and precisely 13 (b9 #11) chords.

C Romanian Major Scale C Db E F# G A Bb
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) b7

 

Romanian major

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 - Hungarian Major Scale

Despite its name, the Hungarian Major scale is a dominant scale. The only difference with the Romanian Major Scale discussed above is the sharp second giving the following formula : 1 (tonic), #2 (augmented second), 3 (major third), #4 (augmented fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), 6 (major sixth), b7 (minor seventh).

C Hungarian Major Scale C D# E F# G A Bb
Formula 1 #2 (#9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) b7

 

Hungarian major

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 - Spanish Gipsy Scale

The Spanish Gipsy scale is also called Phrygian major, Mixolydian b2 b6, Altered Phrygian, dominant flat 2 flat 6, Spanish Gitan, Harmonic Major Inverse or Jewish scale. This is actually the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale better known as Phrygian Dominant. The formula is 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 3 (major third), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), b6 (minor sixth), b7 (minor seventh).

C Spanish Gipsy Scale C Db E F G Ab Bb
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 3 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13) b7

 

Spanish gipsy scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 - Arabian Scale

The Arabian scale is also named Major Locrian. The formula is 1 (tonic), 2 (second), 3 (third), 4 (perfect fourth), b5 (diminished fifth), b6 (minor sixth) and minor seventh (b7). You can use it over 7b5b13 chords.

C Arabian Scale C D E F Gb Ab Bb
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 4 (11) b5 b6 (b13) b7

 

Arabian scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 - Asian Scale

The Asian scale is sometimes referred to as Oriental or Minor Romani Inversed. The formula is 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 3 (major third), 4 (fourth), b5 (diminished fifth), 6 (major sixth), and b7 (minor seventh).

C Asian Scale C Db E F Gb A Bb
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 3 4 (11) b5 6 (13) b7

 

Asian scale

Six Notes

The next section covers exotic 6 note scales, the Prometheus scale and the Ritus scale :

15 - Prometheus Scale

The Prometheus scale is also know as Mystic scale or Scriabin's Prometheus scale, with reference to musical pieces by Alexander Scriabin, a Russian composer. This scale is composed of 1 (tonic), 2 (second), 3 (major third), #4 (augmented fourth), 6 (major sixth) and b7 (minor seventh). It can be used over 7#11 and 7b5 chords.

C Prometheus Scale C D E F# A Bb
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (#11) 6 (13) b7

 

Prometheus scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 - Ritsu Scale

The Ritsu scale or Ritsu Onkai is a minor Japanese scale made of six notes 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), b3 (minor third), 4 (perfect fourth), b6 (minor sixth) and b7 (minor seventh).

C Ritsu Scale C Db Eb F Ab Bb
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 4 (11) b6 (b13) b7

 

Ritsu scale 

Five Note Scales (pentatonic)

This last section covers the main five note exotic scales that are : the Insen Scale, Iwato, Scottish, Han-Kumoï, Hon-Kumoi-joshi, Egyptian, Hirajoshi, Balinese Pelog and Mongolian.

17 - In Sen Scale

The In Sen scale, or Insen, or Kokin-joshi is a suspended scale from Japan built of : 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 4 (pefect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth) and b7 (minor seventh).

C In Sen Scale C Db F G Bb
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 4 (11) 5 b7

 

In sen scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 - Iwato Scale

The Iwato scale can be seen as the Locrian mode (seven mode of the major scale) without the b3 and the b6 giving the formula 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 4 (fourth), b5 (diminished fifth) and b7 (minor seventh).

C Iwato Scale C Db F Gb Bb
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 4 (11) b5 b7

 

Iwato scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 - Scottish Scale

The Scottish pentatonic is a suspended scale made of 1 (tonic), 2 (second), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth) and 6 (major sixth). It also referred to as Ritusen scale actually the fourth mode of the major pentatonic scale.

C Scottish Scale C D F G A
Formula 1 2 (9) 4 (11) 5 6 (13)

 

Scottish scale 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 - Han-Kumoï Scale

The Han-Kumoï aka Japanese scale is a suspended pentatonic scale built of : 1 (tonic), 2 (second), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth), b6 (minor sixth).

C Han-Kumoï Scale C D F G Ab
Formula 1 2 (9) 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13)

 

Han kumoi scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 - Hon-Kumoi-joshi Scale

The Hon-Kumoi-joshi scale aka Sakura or Akenobo 2 is a suspended Japanese scale built of 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), 4 (fourth), 5 (perfect fifth) - b6 (minor sixth).

C Hon-Kumoï-joshi Scale C Db F G Ab
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13)

 

Hon kumoi joshi scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 - Egyptian Scale

The Egyptian scale is better known as suspended pentatonic scale, second mode of the major pentatonic scale. The formula is 1 (tonic), 2 (second), 4 (perfect fourth), 5 (perfect fifth) and b7 (minor seventh).

C Egyptian Scale C D F G Bb
Formula 1 2 (9) 4 (11) 5 b7

 

Egyptian scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 - Hirajoshi Scale

The Hirajoshi Scale is actually the Aeolian Pentatonic scale. This is a minor pentatonic scale spelled 1 (tonic), 2 (second), b3 (minor third), 5 (perfect fifth), b6 (minor sixth).

C Hirajoshi Scale C D Eb G Ab
Formula 1 2 (9) b3 5 b6 (b13)

 

Hirajoshi scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 - Balinese Pelog Scale

The Balinese Pelog scale is an Indonesian minor pentatonic scale constructed with : 1 (tonic), b2 (minor second), b3 (minor third), 5 (perfect fifth) and b6 (minor sixth).

C Balinese Pelog Scale C Db Eb G Ab
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 5 b6 (b13)

 

Balinese pelog scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 - Mongolian Scale

The last of the serie, the Mongolian pentatonic scale which is made of 1 (tonic), 2 (second), 3 (major third), 5 (perfect fifth), 6 (major sixth). It is actually built the same as the major pentatonic scale.

C Mongolian Pentatonic Scale C D E G A
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 5 6 (13)

 

Mongolian scale

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