I'm playing a whole bunch of songs that use the pattern half step, whole step, half, whole, half, whole, whole. What scale is it?
closed as off topic by Matthew Read♦ Jan 14 '13 at 19:25
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/sigh, it's the "Jewish Scale." I'm not being racist here, that's actually one of its names.
The two songs you referenced actually aren't in the same scale, but they are modes of each other. Avraham Fried was singing in a pretty common harmonic minor scale. (Take a typical minor scale but use the major 7th.) The other song was in the Phrygian dominant scale, which is a mode of harmonic minor, meaning that if you play the harmonic minor scale from the 5th to the 5th, you'll be playing the phrygian dominant scale.
Your initial pattern of half and whole steps isn't quite accurate--I don't think you were accounting for the fact that half and whole steps aren't the only options. The augmented 2nd is the interval between the second and third notes of the phrygian dominant scale, and the sixth and seventh notes of the harmonic minor scale. The patterns you're hearing are WHWWHAH (harmonic minor, sung by Avraham Fried) and HAHWHWW (phrygian dominant, or colloquially, the "Jewish scale").
It's an eight-tone scale, also called an octatonic scale. Not one I'm familiar with; I can't find any information on it either.
If you took the last whole step and appended it at the beginning, that's the "standard" 8-tone scale that just alternates between whole and half steps: WHWHWHW(H). For example, C-D-E♭-F-G♭-A♭-A-B(-C). You can also start with a half-step first, i.e. HWHWHWH(W). For example, C-D♭-E♭-F♭-G♭-G-A-B♭(-C). Both of these are called symmetric diminished scales. Presumably the one you're dealing with is an assymetric diminished scale.
The Spanish 8-tone scale is popular; it's HWHHHWW(W). For example, C-D♭-E♭-E-F-G♭-A♭-B♭(-C).
The bebop scales are also 8-tone scales, but don't fit your pattern.