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I noticed recently that quite a few Jewish songs (e.g. Havah Nagila) tended to use certain scales. I thought they were normal minor scales, but then I played them on the piano and noticed that the step patterns were different.

The first scale has this step pattern (numbers represent semitones)

1312122 (C C# E F G G# A# C)

and the second has

1312131 (C C# E F G G# B C)

They differ only in the seventh tone.

What are these scales called?

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closed as off topic by Matthew Read Jan 14 '13 at 19:25

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1 Answer 1

Well first of all, it's certainly not "C C#..." but

C D♭ E F G A♭ B♭ C

which happen to be exactly the same notes as F harmonic-minor. But this scale beginning from C is called Phrygian dominant scale or in fact Jewish scale.

The other scale

C D♭ E F G A♭ B C

coincides with a "minor Gypsy scale" on F, but probably also has another name that fits in this context.

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Another name for Gypsy minor is Flamenco mode or Major-Phrygian. –  horsh Dec 1 '11 at 3:21
@leftaroundabout If you like, edit your answer and add this information to improve it. Scales or modes can be known with different names in different cultures. As the answerer said, in western music they derive from the Phrygian mode but can have other names in ancient oriental music. In jewish music it's "Ahava Rabbah". In Indian Classical Music they are from the Bhairav family: 1) Basant Mukhari (or Basant Bhairav) and 2) Bhairav respectively. In central Asia they are from the Hijaz (or Hiçaz) family: 1) Hijaz-Nahawand (or Hijaz-Nihavend) and 2) Hijaz respectively. goo.gl/j7VQg –  Alejandro Iglesias Jun 2 '12 at 4:29

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