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  • john coltrane

    Introduction To Symmetrical Scales




    by Simon James.








    Symmetrical Scales are scales that are built up by one or more interval patterns that are repeated in a cycle and often contain six or eight notes.

    They include the Whole Tone, the Whole Half Diminished, the Half Whole Diminished, the Tritone and the Augmented Scales.

    Although good time must be spent learning the Major, Minor and Pentatonic scales it is well worth devoting some of your practice schedule to symmetrical scales as they can come in particularly handy when playing over altered and extended 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.

    whole tone scale  

    Whole Half Diminished Scale

    The Whole Half Diminished scale is built up by repeating a pattern of a Whole Tone interval followed by a Half (or semi) Tone interval as you move up the scale from the root note and is constructed as follows:

    R 2 b3 4 #4 #5 6 7 R

    Or in the key of C:

    C D Eb F F# G# A B C

    The Whole Half Diminished Scale can be used to solo over any Diminished or Diminished 7th chord. Make sure you learn it in all 12 keys to ensure full mastery of the scale and then practice playing it over a Diminished Chord to hear how it works.

    whole half diminished scale  

    Half Whole Diminished Scale

    The Whole Half Diminished Scale is built by repeating interval patterns of a Half (or semi) Tone followed by a Whole Tone and can be used to solo over a 13b9 chord as well as adding a #9 and a #11. It is constructed as follows:

    R b2(b9) b3(#9) 3 #4(#11) 5 6 b7 R

    Or in the key of C:

    C Db Eb E F# G A Bb C

    Make sure that you learn this scale over all 12 keys and in other positions on the guitar to really get it down and then try playing it over a 7th chord to get a feel for the sound of it!

    half whole diminished scale  

    Tritone Scale

    The Tritone Scale is made up by the root triad followed by the triad that is a Tritone away from the Root. The Tritone Scale can be used to solo over 7th chords that have a b9 and #11. The intervals go as follows:

    R b2(b9) 3 b5(11) 5 b7 R

    Notice how in the key of C how we combine a C triad with the Gb triad that is a Tritone away:

    C Db E Gb G Bb C

    Try learning this scale in all 12 keys to gain full understanding and then incorporate it into your soloing over a 7th chord to hear it in context.

    tritone scale  

    Augmented Scale

    The Augmented Scale is built by placing two augmented triads a minor 3rd apart and can be used to add tension to your solos when playing over a Major 7 chord or a Major 7#5 chord. It is constructed as follows:

    R b3(#9) 3 5 #5 7 R

    or in the key of C

    C Db E Gb G Bb C

    You will notice as you play this scale that you are making a pattern by combining the C and Eb Augmented Triads.

    augmented scale  

    Once you have these 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!






    Related Posts:

    1. Introduction to Jazz Blues

    2. Bebop Scales and Jazz Soloing

    3. Useful Bebop Solos and Phrases

    4. Using Altered Scales in Jazz Blues Progressions