Symmetrical Scales: The Whole Tone Scale
Symmetrical Scales are scales that are marked by interval patterns within one or two octaves. There are four types of Symmetrical scale based around one or more interval patterns repeated in a cycle. They are particularly useful for improvising over extended and altered chords
Whole Tone Scale
The Whole Tone symmetrical scale contains six notes and is constructed by moving up the scale in intervals of a Whole Tone between each note as follows:
R 2 3 #4(#11) #5 b7 R
Or in the key of C:
C D E F# G# A# C
As you can see in the example of C, you begin on the root note and move up the scale in Tones until you reach the next root note an octave higher. The Whole Tone scale is most commonly used when improvising over a 7#5 and a 7#5#11 chord.
Here is a C Whole Tone Scale that can be used over a C7#5 that also contains a #11. Notice how the interval pattern is repeated as you move up the scale. Once you have this scale down practice playing it over a 7th chord and then trying learning it in all 12 keys.
Once you have this scales mastered, pick a standard out of your jazz repertoire and incorporate these in the relevant places to add some colour and diversity to your solos!
by Matt Warnock
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