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Altered scales- is there just one, or many

bluesman

Member
Messages
725
I'm finding and hearing conflicting things. I hear some say play The Altered Scale, as if there is just one. Then I hear others say plan 'an' altered scale, as if there's more than one.

The scale I believe people mean when they say The Altered Scale is (in terms of steps) HWHWWW. But I think HWHWHW is also an altered scale.

Which is right?
 

russ6100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,562
Altered scale - last mode of the Melodic minor.
G Altered = Ab Melodic minor.
AKA Superlocrian.
There can be only one.
 
Last edited:

Lucidology

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
27,170
Actually this was a question I asked my teach years ago ...

AND his basic answer was that anything goes whenever it's a dominant moving towards the tonic ...
Even if the chord is unaltered ...!! Scales were just a way of breaking down sounds..
(or 'tunnings' as Kimock puts it... at least I think that's what he means ...)

Anyhow ,,, it was something which took a long time to courageously accept playing wise ...
but was always accepted hearing wise ..
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,730
Altered scale - last mode of the Melodic minor.
G Altered = Ab Melodic minor.
AKA Superlocrian.
There can be only one.
Russ is correct. The 7th mode of the melodic minor scale is called Super Locrian aka The Altered Scale. It is called this because it contains all the alterations you add to dominant chords, #5, b5, #9, b9.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,069
I'm finding and hearing conflicting things. I hear some say play The Altered Scale, as if there is just one. Then I hear others say plan 'an' altered scale, as if there's more than one.

The scale I believe people mean when they say The Altered Scale is (in terms of steps) HWHWWW. But I think HWHWHW is also an altered scale.

Which is right?
"The" altered scale is - as the others say - the 7th mode of melodic minor, which comes out as 1 b2 #2 3 b5 #5 b7 on a dominant chord.
But many scales contain alterations. By HWHWHW I guess you mean the HW diminished scale (HWHWHWHW in full), which gives the following on a dom7: 1 b2 #3 3 #4 5 6 b7.
IOW, some of the same alterations as the "altered scale" - but this is called "half-whole diminished", to distinguish it. (And you'll notice the 5th and 6th are not altered.)

Notice that both scales contain the essential chord tones of a dom7: root 3rd and 7th. As shihanderek says, in the "altered scale", all the other 4 notes are altered (moved a half-step) from where they would be in mixolydian mode (the "normal" dom7 scale).
 

rotren

Member
Messages
2,894
You can use either over a plain Dominant 7 chord, but if you use the altered scale over a Dominant 13 chord, it doesn't work, in which case the HW diminished works well (since it has that 13th note in it). Conversely, the Dominant 7#5 doesn't work with the HW diminished scale, but the altered scale works, since that #5 exists in the altered scale while not in the HW diminshed scale. Hope I'm making sense. :)
 

WaitForMe

Member
Messages
76
"The" altered scale is - as the others say - the 7th mode of melodic minor, which comes out as 1 b2 #2 3 b5 #5 b7 on a dominant chord.
Would that be written more correctly as 1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7? I didn't delve into the theory; I'm simply under the impression that scale degrees aren't represented more than once in a scale.
 




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