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Exotic Guitar Scales

Exotic guitar scales are good to add some new flavors to your music. Below is a selection of scales from different parts of the world. Each scale is in the key of A and comes with scale formulas and charts.


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Arabian Guitar Scale

This Arabian scale is an octatonic minor scale (it has 8 notes). It is the same scale as the diminished scale.


Formula 1 2 b3 4 #4 #5 6 7


Arabian Guitar Scale


Persian Guitar Scale

Major scale.


Formula 1 b2 3 4 b5 b6 7


Persian guitar scale


Byzantine Guitar Scale

Major Scale.


Formula 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7


Byzantine guitar scale


Oriental Guitar Scale

Dominant scale.


Formula 1 b2 3 4 b5 6 b7


Oriental guitar scale


Japanese Guitar Scale

This Japanese scale is pentatonic. It's neither major or minor, the 3rd is not included.


Formula 1 2 4 5 b6


Japanese guitar scale


Indian Guitar Scale

This Indian music scale is called the Asavari scale or raga Asavari. A raga is something between a scale and a composition, it is richer then a scale, but not as fixed as a composition. It is more like a tonal framework for improvisation and composition, just as chord changes and standards are for a jazz musician. Besides a particular scale, ragas also have a specific melodic movement, hierarchy in tones and specific intonation, ornamentation, strength and duration. I'm not going into all the specifics of this raga, I'll only tell you that it is played differently ascending and descending. Descending, this scale is the same as the Phrygian scale, ascending it's the Phrygian scale minus the b3 and b7.


Formula Ascending 1 b2 4 5 b6


Indian raga

Formula Descending 1 b7 b6 5 4 b3 b2


Indian music


Gypsy Guitar Scale

This scale is the Hungarian gypsy scale (minor). Check the second Django Reinhardt lick for an example. Also check out this video for a theme that uses the gypsy minor scale.


Formula 1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7


Hungarian gypsy scale


Romanian Guitar Scale

Minor Scale.


Formula 1 2 b3 #4 5 6 b7


Romanian guitar scale


Jewish Guitar Scale

A dominant scale that's also known as the Spanish gypsy scale. The Jewish scale is an inversion of the harmonic minor scale (on the 5th note): E Jewish = A harmonic minor.


Formula 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7


Jewish guitar scale



Origin Guitar Scale Formulas Type
Arabian 1     2    b3    4   #4   #5     6      7 minor
Gypsy 1     2    b3  #4             5    b6     7 minor
Romanian 1     2    b3  #4             5     6     b7 minor
Indian 1   b2             4              5    b6 neutral
  1   b2   b3     4             5     b6   b7 minor
Persian 1   b2     3      4           b5    b6    7  major
Byzantine 1   b2     3      4            5     b6    7 major
Oriental 1  b2      3      4           b5     6    b7 dominant
Jewish 1  b2      3      4            5    b6    b7 dominant
Japanese 1   2                4             5   b6 neutral



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