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  • rbedwell3

Scales that change in the second octave.

I came across a reference in a blog I was reading about a musician that was using scales that didn't resolve until the second or even third octave. Sounds fascinating.

Now firstly, I need to state that I am a huge admirer of said musician, even going so far as to state that he was probably one of the most important musicians of the last century.

However, my mind works in a different way. So I shall explain what is happening with 2 octave + altering scales from my perspective.

Example 1 (See notation below): C D E F G A Bb C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

The example above could begin in C Major or F Major, as the point of alteration is not clear, but the thought behind it lies in the intention to modulate back through the circle of fifths while ascending up the scale. The Bb states the key of F Major, then the Eb is now saying Bb Major while the Ab signals Eb Major. Depending on the bass, the approaches are numerous. Keeping C in the bass, for example, the sequence would imply C Ionian, C Mixolydian, C Dorian, C Aeolian.

Constructing a ii - V - I whilst simultaneously moving back through the keys would sound like:

ii - (F Major) D Aeolian - V - (Bb Major) G Aeolian - I (Eb Major) C Aeolian

We can see that by following a circular progression such as the ii -V - I whilst at the same time modulating back through the keys, that the Aeolian mode is made to be the overriding sound.

Example 2.

The same approach is used in example 2, but this time the scale modulates forward through the keys C Major - G Major - D Major

Again, the modal sound depends on the bass notes used. This technique is a nice way of introducing notes from outside of the key. This approach can then be used in Melodic, Harmonic minor and Major etc. Scales can also be mixed at the same time.

This approach is part of the section in The Modal Method of Music, called The Ultimate Scale Workout. For those that have the book, this begins with section III on page 107.

The modal analysis I have used here makes much more sense to me, and helps me to understand the concept behind the example. For me, modulating back or forward through the circle of fifths while ascending or descending is easier to understand than thinking in terms of an 8, 9 ,10 note scale. Maybe some of you will find this too.

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