Author Topic: Artificial Scales  (Read 473 times)

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Ron

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Artificial Scales
« on: June 18, 2017, 07:50:09 AM »
The modal exercise went well, I thought. As I said there, the modes based on the old ecclesiastical modes (don't confuse them with the original; harmonic relationships and concepts have evolved) are just a beginning.


Different cultures around the world base their music on scales that vary from what we think of as standard western scales. The blues scale is one such example. Once you leave the comfort of restricting yourself to major and minor an entire world of possibilities opens up. There are many books out there with descriptions of various scales available to the composer. I have one called "Musical Scales of the World" by Michael Hewitt. He lists a couple of hundred scales, all of them based on our 12-tone equal tempered concept. I sometimes flip through the book looking for inspiring ideas.


On any case, here's a couple of possibilities. Note that Persichetti callls these scales "artificial." I think that is a misnomer. For example, the scale used in Flamenco music with which I am familiar (having played flamenco guitar for a couple of years when I was young) can hardly be called artificial. It is a dynamic scale based the locrian mode--from whence you get that distinctive flamenco chord progression of A -> G -> F -> E which, when transposed up a guitar string (a perfect 4th) gives you D -> C -> Bb -> A.


Your challenge: create an artificial scale of your own devising and write a short piece to demonstrate how it can be used, ensuring that you make the tonic clear.

Here are a few "artificial" scales for you to sample:
Ron
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Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2017, 10:25:24 AM »
One nice thing about "artificial" or "synthetic" scales is that when you create one you've just created 7 modes to play with.  And we were given two "artificial" scales a few hundred years ago: the harmonic and melodic minor scales.  Each has 6 relatively unexplored modes.  And each has a somewhat exotic sounding augmented 2nd to use.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for clarinet and piano whose middle section used the A harmonic minor scale with the tonal (modal) center on E.  The section briefly slips into A minor but mostly stays in E whatever.  (There's a bit of a lack of nomenclature when it comes to synthetic modes.)

I know it's cheating to use this since I didn't invent this scale and I didn't just create the piece for this exercise, but here is that middle section anyway.   (I'm showing it in concert pitch because I think that makes the mode clearer.)
score: https://app.box.com/s/f66cvaioc67wp1xrac790bhegmn7lxel
audio: https://app.box.com/s/qwvtxq253u5dzoe2yqqvv06w4g8qyuug

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2017, 02:35:07 PM »
Another example from my past, but this one I at least tweaked - mostly shortened - a bit to use for this exercise.  (It's still longer than requested.  Sorry.)

This one uses the natural minor scale with a flat 5.  No dominant, but it has a 6 note octatonic scale (C-Ab) and a 5 note whole tone scale (Ab-D) so it has some neat properties.

I wrote a little accompanied canon-ish thing alternating two measures of octatonic with two measures of whole tone.  The canon falls apart in a few places.  There isn't a strong tonal center, but I hear it as sort of E-ish. 

score: https://app.box.com/s/t2zlm0arfheb53x1fd0i8et9cayrkpzq
audio: https://app.box.com/s/09banfsfi3g2wwysmqnnuva9xqwkl4ql   

whitebark

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2017, 09:07:14 PM »
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 10:07:54 PM by whitebark »

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2017, 08:48:04 AM »
Two very good examples on one of my favorite modes.  That is one of the very few "artificial" modes I'm familiar with.  It's known as the Hungarian minor, "Gypsy" mode, or double harmonic minor mode.  It's fairly common in Balkan and Roma.  Two augmented 2nd intervals!  And, with a leading tone for both the tonic and dominant, it's great for creating a slightly ambiguous tonal center.

whitebark

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2017, 05:29:04 PM »
Thanks for listening, Patrick.  I created my mode from scratch, just by trying out notes on my keyboard. I should have known that such an interesting scale already had a name.  Hungarian Minor, I like it!

Ron

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2017, 04:53:20 AM »
Delighted to see the creativity these exercises are encouraging. I think it is safe to say that it is impossible to create an entirely new scale. There are limitations within which every combination has been tried at one time or another.

My wife and I will be away for 8 days, partaking in a Duplicate Bridge tournament in Moncton, New Brunswick (she likes to attend one major tournament a year that is outside of our local region). However, before we leave Monday I hope to post one more "scalular" exercise, then start some harmonic progression ones when we return.

Cheers!
Ron
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Tritonus

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2017, 11:31:27 AM »
Create a scale and not lose sight of the tonic.  ???

Octatonic Scales -
There are only two of them.  Either Half-Whole-Half-Whole...... or Whole-Half-Whole-Half.

The scale I choose was C D Eb F F# G# A Bb C

The chords chosen were either minor or Fully diminished.

i fully dim7 - ii - bvi - vii fully dim 7.

I post this on my site as well.
http://supertonictriad.com/

After I saved the recording to a wav file.
Finale decided to take a dump and I have lost the score.  It only comes up empty.

Here is the mp3.

http://supertonictriad.com/sites/default/files/2017-06/624Assignment.mp3






whitebark

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2017, 10:41:24 AM »
Tritonus,
Your example using the octatonic scale was nice, with a moody and atmospheric quality.

-Jay

Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2017, 08:40:11 AM »
I think it is safe to say that it is impossible to create an entirely new scale.

It's not impossible. You just have to expand the definition of "scale."  :angel:

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Artificial Scales
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2017, 10:11:22 AM »

It's not impossible. You just have to expand the definition of "scale."  :angel:
That's particularly true when you use a scale that spans more than an octave so that different octaves use different accidentals (for lack of a better term).  A multi-octave scale also allows for larger spacings between notes.  But that makes it difficult to identify the scale as a scale.