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I have been enjoying a wonderful scale recently, but I am unable to find its ‘proper name’ anywhere.

It’s essentially a minor pentatonic with a major 3rd in place of the 4th

1 - b3 - 3 - 5 - b7

e.g. C Eb E G Bb

My question is simple: what is this scale called?

EDIT - for clarity, none of these are passing notes and the absence of the 4th is critical to the tonality. There’s as distinct a flavour to the sequence as a modal scale, hence my naming curiosity.

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  • 2
    Who said they all had names? Sep 3, 2020 at 22:01
  • Don't you think this is the blues scale without the b5 and the 6? Sep 4, 2020 at 10:02
  • Yes. Or the chromatic scale without C#, D, F, F#, G#, A or B. Sep 4, 2020 at 12:17
  • Ultra correct, man! Sep 4, 2020 at 12:18
  • As ever, man! :-) Sep 4, 2020 at 12:19

3 Answers 3

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Not all scales have been given names, at least not commonly-known names.. The main two pentatonics are the Major pent. and the minor pent.

Yours is a bastardisation of the two. Basically, given 12 chromatic notes to choose from, there could be many different 'scales' of five notes invented from them. Most will be not very useful.

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  • The reason I assumed this combination might have a name is because it has a very particular flavour—in the same way as modal patterns do. Sep 4, 2020 at 7:48
  • @ZebedeePedersen I would agree with Tim's answer. What you seem to be doing is playing a melodic line, arpeggio, or something else which is a subset of a known scale, In particular the Maj Blues scale. If you want to explore names further I'd recommend looking at the list in Jazzology. In general I do NOT like this book but there is a long list of "other scales" in the chapter on modes. You can also look at lists of Indian scales to see if your pattern is there.
    – user50691
    Sep 4, 2020 at 12:14
  • @ZebedeePedersen, another example might be the so called Insen scale, cited as a Japanese scale. The tonality known to Westerners might not be "authentic" as it might be forced into the 12TET scale. But the individual notes are embedded in the Phrygian mode. This does not mean that Insen is not unique and yours might fall into this category. You like the combo of tones and it just so happens that we can map it into something we know. If you can't find any previous reference to it, give it a name.
    – user50691
    Sep 4, 2020 at 12:18
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You're outlining a C7 chord but inserting a "blue" note ahead of the E. I'd consider it a modified arpeggio. You could use it, for example, as the bass riff underneath a blues.

You can also modify other arpeggios similarly.

  • C-7: C-D-Eb-G-Bb
  • C6: C-Eb-E-G-A
  • C-7b5 #1: C-D-Eb-Gb-Bb
  • C-7b5 #2: C-Eb-F-Gb-Bb

Basically, take a seventh chord, and add a non-chord pitch to serve as a "leading-tone" to one of the chord pitches.

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  • I think my mention of the b5 might be a red herring. b5 and maj3 as passing notes in a bluesed-up minor pentatonic are one thing, however in the intervals I described none are passing notes. The absence of the fourth is also very deliberate (if you play it by accident the feel changes totally). Sep 4, 2020 at 7:53
  • @ZebedeePedersen The error was mine. I shouldn't have referred to a "passing tone", which has a specific meaning. I've updated my answer. Please let me know if you still find it problematic.
    – Aaron
    Sep 4, 2020 at 20:10
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I don't know if it has an official name, but it could easily serve as a blues scale, so I'd consider it a variation of the blues pentatonic scale, especially with the added b5.

Blues scale: 1 b3 4 (b5) 5 b7

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  • Yeah. And someone will mention octatonic scales soon. (I'm getting jaded!) Sep 3, 2020 at 23:21
  • @OldBrixtonian Well, I was going to...
    – Richard
    Sep 4, 2020 at 0:40
  • @Richard :-) I wish the rules here would relax a bit. Maybe posters should be allowed to say simply, 'Look what I found!', rather than having to make up a question about it. If expressing an opinion about some theory or practice were permitted it might liven the place up and reduce the number of 'It's called a power chord' and 'It's called the Stygian mode' answers. But I interrupted. Sorry. So, Richard. Ochtatonic scales: they're only used by Scottish bagpipers surely?...... Sep 4, 2020 at 11:05

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