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In my bar piano arrangement of the song "Georgia On My Mind" (pub. Schott), in the first measure, half beat, there is an interval of a diminished octave in the left hand: G# and G surrounding D. The chord symbol over that harmony is E7#9 in the sheet, but then, the arranger does not use Fx but G.

Measure 1 of intro, start of song right bottom

What scale, beside the chromatic of course, could include E7#9? Is there any known in western music? Minor scales offer certain degrees of freedom concerning the 6th and the 7th degrees, but as far as I know that does not mean I can use both 6ths at once.

Some context to outline why I think I need it: In a nutshell, I would use the chromatic scale as the last escape only, because I would have to let go off any error checking for the regions covered.

It is sometimes a struggle for me to integrate these tension notes into my ideal mindset of diatonic scales plus not so-diatonic-minor scales. Especially when the tension notes are put in addition to non-alterated tones in the stem octave. This mindset would have its benefits in context of programing at least, so I hope I could stick to it. So I rather tend to see that harmony as a varied Bm. Precisely, let it be harmony E7#9 regarded as compliant to scale B minor.

Until now, code stumbled upon that somewhere in my DIY computer program that I also use to double-check that I read notes correctly, which is achieved by observing that covered notes viewed horizontally comply to a scale vertically covering that (part of) measure. Think of light polarization, this works likewise. The scale to check notes against I indicate by a two- or three-letter abbreviation. This abbreviation is looked up in a mapping of scales. I could add another to my collection of diatonic and minor-variant scales, one of the latter type: >2>1>2>2>1>1>2>1 semitones, observe there are 9 steps, 6 and #6, so 9 steps in total. But light-heartedly inventing arbitrary non-diatonic scales has not much in common with learning and practicing music theory.

My idea is "dm" (among mn = [natural] minor / aeolic with b6/b7 compared to major, hm = harmonic minor with b6/j7, mm with j6/j7), spoken "dissonant minor". But I would rather prefer some established term if there is one.

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    It's not clear to me what the question actually is. There seems to be some confusion which presupposes notes need to be diatonic, which is rarely the case. That apart, I can't find the chart, and Georgia stays firmly on G for the whole of bar 1 anyway. Please post the 'offending' bars.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 10:34
  • Thanks. I clarified the question and separated the context from it more clearly. Plus, I added an image of the part of the sheet in question. Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 17:16
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    It seems to me that you're trying to force the notes into a model that the writer of the arrangement or a lot of players of that style don't do. You want a G something scale? Why? If you want a seven-note scale, try E altered en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altered_scale There are many different ways to think and operate in the situation, and wanting to find "one true and only correct scale" is a bit misguided IMO. The chord symbol theoretically implies an F double-sharp, but how people actually think in practice can vary a lot. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 8:16
  • Where are you getting m6 and M6 from?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 10:50
  • How does this E chord resolve?
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 14:58

3 Answers 3

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We have here two perfect examples of music theory orthodoxy hitting its limits!

It's a dom7 shape chord with the major 3rd in an inner voice, a 'blue' flattened 3rd above it. Orthodoxy requires us to label the chord as a ♯9, though aurally it's indubitably a ♭10 and it makes sense to notate it as G♮ rather than Fx. (Yet no-one blanches at 'C6'. Go figure.)

Then there's the orthodoxy that any chord must imply a scale. No. It ain't so. And here's a perfect example of one that doesn't.

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  • This now being the accepted answer, I'd like to add that the "orthodoxies" come from certain common habits and practices that were so common (somewhere) in the past that there were several attempts to describe the practices in a seemingly formalized way, as music theories. But the theories are really only descriptions of habits that some groups of people have had, somewhere, in the past. They're not laws of nature of anything. There are many different styles to make music and to look at it. Sometimes you can find a well fitting way of describing what you do, i.e. a "theory". Sometimes not. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:34
  • 'Chord=scale' isn't from LONG in the past!
    – Laurence
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 21:01
  • But you still categorized it under "orthodoxy"? Anyway, finding scales for chords is just one somewhat commonly used practice for achieving certain musical goals. And there are many possible scales for most chords. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 13:10
  • It seems to be an orthodoxy for the questioner! "What scale, beside the chromatic of course, could include E7#9?"
    – Laurence
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 12:58
  • Yes, I conclude that the habit of finding scales for chords had been identified as reflecting a force of nature by the OP. In my opinion, that theory could also be falsified by showing that a C major triad can be found in several different scales. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 13:04
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You ask about the E7#9 chord, but then cut off the next chord in your picture. That just makes it harder to talk about the music. It looks like there is an introduction with a lot of chromatic extended chords before it settles into the main song. Sometimes an introduction like that can be complex or a bit odd, you might call it a bit dreamy or drifting, before the main song displays more standard chord progressions. It might not be a section to try chord/scale improv.

What scale, beside the chromatic of course, could include E7#9?

Just that chord in isolation, the most obvious thing would be E7#9 is a dominant to A minor, so play an A minor pentatonic, or blues, scale. That scale will give you the G or enharmonically Fx along with E and D as chord tone of E7#9.

Watch out for being too literal with the "scale includes chords" idea. Chromaticism happens all the time in many, many styles of music, especially blues and jazz.

Why do you need to know this about matching a scale to a chord? The music is all right there in notation.

Also, I don't understand why you ask about both major and minor sixths. None of the chords shown have sixths added and relative to the key of G major there isn't both E and Eb.

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  • The sixth is the interval of G or G# in the key of B harmonic/melodic minor, merged into one. I learn in that thread that assuming a temporary tonic for the mere purpose of fitting a chord in whatever a scale is ... irritating. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 17:30
  • Why are you looking at B minor? The song is in G major, and the intro looks like a sequence of fancy dominants with extensions and modern voicings. There isn't even a B minor chord or dominant of B minor (F# dom. of some kind.) Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:46
  • "...I learn in that thread that assuming a temporary tonic for the mere purpose of fitting a chord in whatever a scale is ... irritating..." You should not think of this as irritation, it is literally a fundamental of harmony in just about any tonal harmony style. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 19:28
  • Yeah, what I mean is my wrong assumption of another first degree and and a scale over it just for the sake of being well-fitted to a chord. Seems my greenhorn's theory needs some further reading on this topic. Thanks Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 7:12
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    Plus, concerning "Why do you need to know this about matching a scale to a chord? The music is all right there in notation.": As a paramusician, among my passion is translation of sheet notation to machine-parsible source code and to finally render audio. Unfortunately, my ears are not musically well-educated, a bit better since piano classes maybe. That is why I need to program methods to check inputs to be safe(r). So that this chord-scale matching often contradicts music theory, esp. close to chromatic things is precious knowledge to me, though it serves spotting errors nevertheless. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 8:12
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What scale, beside the chromatic of course, could include E7#9?

  1. E7b10 has nothing to do with b-minor.

  2. Don't refer those tones to the root tone of the key-scale of a piece (G)!

  3. F× has to be seen according to scale and the root tone of the actual chord E7. G "blue"-third in the E7, therefore you will find in every Blues a similar "diminished octave".

  4. Further the blue note b10 is enharmonic equivalent #9, F× -> G, G -> F×.

Except of the blues scale with a major and minor third you won't find any scale containing both thirds.

You can identify G as a bluenote b10 of E7 or F× as a chromatic approach to G#.

Mind that E7 is a secondary dominant chord of am (V7/ii) => E7/(am D7) G ...

The last chord of the intro is better understood as D7b9 and not B7: D# should be wriiten as Eb: Am D7 = ii V7 of G.

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  • "Except of the blues scale with a major and minor third you won't find any scale containing both thirds." That is not true, both the second and the third Messiaen mode contain both the major and the minor third.
    – Lazy
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 5:09

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