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Exotic Scales pt.2

As we mentioned last time (in “Exotic Scales [part 1]”), the term “exotic scale” generally refers to scales outside of the standard Major Scale (& it’s modes), the Harmonic Minor, and the Melodic Minor…plus a few others (depending on which text you’re reading). Essentially, exoticism is the use of musical devices (melodies, harmonies, rhythms, instrumentation, etc.) to evoke the atmosphere of ancient or distant places, so the easiest way to gather such scales are to take them from non-western cultures.

Like the last two installments of “Insanity 101”, this article will assume a knowledge of modes. Rather than breaking each scale down myself as I have in the past, I urge you to pull each one apart yourself and experiment with them. Note that all scales herein are in the key of “A”.

The first scale we’ll look at is sometimes called the Lydian Minor Scale
(you’ll note the first half of the scale is identical to the Lydian Mode,
with the major 3rd and raised 4th). Several of it’s modes are extremely
interesting, too, and be sure to note that chromatic bit as you go from
the 4th to 5th to 6th.


The second is another cool 5-note Oriental scale, called the Kokinjoshi (similar to last month’s Hirajoshi Scale).


The last one we’ll look at this month has several names, but I recently saw it called the Prometheus Scale – a very interesting pentatonic scale which is essentially a whole-tone scale minus one note (making all of it’s modes sound similar). Check it out:


That’s all for now, kiddos. Enjoy!

David M. McLean is the proprietor of Skinny Devil Music Labs, former guitarist of the avant-garde fusion-metal band Aurora-Sen, guitar instructor, and columnist for TinFoil Music Magazine (where he conducts interviews in the on-going series“Guitar Gods”). His new solo album, “HUNGER”, will be released later this year.

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