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Whole tone scale??

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by eddie101, May 15, 2011.

  1. eddie101

    eddie101 Silver Supporting Member

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    When and in what applications do you use the scale? I've seen someone using it in a blues tune and it sounded great. Can it also be used in, say, Gospel or Rock?

    Thanks! Ed
     
  2. chronowarp

    chronowarp Member

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    In terms of genre? I'd say it depends how you apply it. Obviously over any sort of dominant chord you can introduce it for some tensions, and it will sound cool if you resolve it back in correctly. Gives you a dom7 + #5,#11, which can be a nice sound.
     
  3. frdagaa

    frdagaa Supporting Member

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    Best used quite sparingly.
     
  4. Jon

    Jon Member

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    From a theory perspective you can use it wherever it fits, so if there's an augmented chord, or a functioning dominant that you want to add an altered flavour to, you can use it.

    From a stylistic/taste perspective, it's up to you to decide if it's the sound you want to hear.

    FWIW (if my memory serves me) the intro to 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life' by Stevie Wonder has a whole tone run
     
  5. MortenFaerestrand

    MortenFaerestrand Member

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    I think for an "outside" sound it can be used regardless of if it "fits" harmonically or not. Like the blues scale the whole tone scale has a strong identity that stands on it's own feet nomatter where you put it, so it doesn't sound like nonsense.
     
  6. stevel

    stevel Member

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    And let's not forget the more "dreamy" sense it gives (used in classical/orchestral music, etc.) as well.

    Here's an interesting example (more of an compositional application rather than use as a scale per se):

     
  7. gennation

    gennation Member

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    It's also used in Mahavishnu Orchestra's tune Vital Transformation. The bridge section climbs up then down then up, etc..the Whole Tone scale.

    One way to use it is to think of it in fragments as opposed to HAVING TO USE every note in the scale. In Blues, Rock, and Bluegrass it's common to play a Major Pentatonic scale and a Blues scale super imposed over the same Root, like for G you'd combine the G Major Pent and the G Blues scale more or less into one scale, or used together to create Major and Minor sounds against a G7 chord.

    When you do this you'll find a good portion of a G Whole Tone scale available to you. You end up with R 2 M3 b5(#4) b7 (G A B C# F). That's only one note shy of a full G Whole Tone scale, with the #5 missing. All of those 5 notes are found directly in those two common scales, but they make up a large portion of the G Whole tone scale.

    You can get some pretty angular lines out it on its own.

    If you do use in a Blues progression you add back in the #5 to create tension just before moving to the IV chord. That note #5 note or D# in the case of G7 will resolve nicely to E, the M3 of C7 (the IV chord)

    Just some food for thought.
     
  8. Yngtchie Blacksteen

    Yngtchie Blacksteen Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't some of the guitar parts in "Diamond Dust" whole-tone?
     
  9. CharAznable

    CharAznable Member

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    All over the place in King Crimson albums.
     
  10. eddie101

    eddie101 Silver Supporting Member

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    Thank you, Sir. I hope I can incorporate the said scale into my playing and make it sound a bit more "interesting" as I got tired of playing/hearing same old major/minor/blues scales.
     
  11. Roger Axetrample

    Roger Axetrample Member

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    Hi,

    some very good replies so far.

    The whole tone scale has a very specific sound. Like with other scales, you'll have to practice this a lot to get the sound in your ears. You'll even have to sing it.
    That said, once you've got the sound, you'll be able to use it everywhere succesfully.

    If the scale sounds good in a certain situation depends on whether the idea and the timing are good, as well as on the listener (one Steve Vai fan on this forum described John Coltrane as "playing wrong notes" in 'A Love Supreme', LOL).
    If you want to use it in a harmonically correct way, 'inside', use it on a dominant 7+5 chord. In other cases it will sound 'outside' but can still work great.

    In a Blues context, play the whole tone scale in bar 4 of the 12-bar form, and you'll have a very hip way to set up for bar 5!
    Best,
    Roger
     
  12. Gigbag

    Gigbag Member

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    The June 2011 (p-108) Guitar Player Mag has a lesson on some ways to use the whole tone scale.
     
  13. AQ808

    AQ808 Member

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    A good thing to keep in mind when you use it is that it is a symmetrical "scale", and that there are only two distinct whole-tone "scales" available to you.
     
  14. hackett

    hackett Member

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    king crimson tune i think called Fragile off of starless and bible black. Also, Theonious Monk a lot
     
  15. CharAznable

    CharAznable Member

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    You mean Fracture
     
  16. frankiestarr

    frankiestarr Member

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    Mork calling Orson.....come in orson
     
  17. Aaron Mayo

    Aaron Mayo Member

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    That's awesome, thanks! Is the third chord from the end transcribed wrong (hard to read)? Looks like it's written Ab major, but I'm hearing F# major.
     
  18. harry65

    harry65 Member

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    4:48 - 5:38 is one of my alltime fave guitar solo's , probably top 5 for me , tons o whole tone..............;)

     
  19. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Nice! Mclaughlin uses the scale all over the place. Here he uses it from :19-:30 for that free spirited improv.

     
  20. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Augmented triad (every 3rd note of whole tone scale) is great for IV-I chord changes. Of course, just one of many applications.
     

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