What is the name of a scale starting on D and containing D, F, G and Ab? Only these four notes are used in the melody.

  • I wouldn't call it a scale; I'd call it a pitch set, and it wouldn't have its own name. That's not really helpful, though. These pitches could be included in many scales, though. I suspect that the question you really ask is "how can I describe the tonality of this piece." To answer that we'd need to see the musical material itself; it's about more than just which pitches are used. Aug 1 at 18:00
  • Why would it be a scale of only 4 notes? Even pentatonics have 5!
    – Tim
    Aug 1 at 18:03
  • 1
    Also important: just because a note appears in the melody doesn't guarantee it's part of the underlying scale. I could write in D minor and use A flats—I could easily imagine it in a boogie-woogie context in fact. For now I'm voting to close this question as lacking details and clarity, but I encourage you to edit it to add some details or focus the question. You might want to read through the topics covered here; note that the obvious question, "So what key is this in anyway," is not covered, though more in-depth theory analysis can be. Aug 1 at 18:30
  • Is this an exam question?
    – phoog
    Aug 1 at 18:41
  • @AndyBonner the question seems to be asking for the name of a scale that contains the given pitch set (among other criteria), i.e., a scale of which the given pitch set is a subset. By definition, the answer to that question will be a scale (if one exists).
    – phoog
    Aug 1 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


It sounds most like a subset of a D minor blues scale (D-F-G-Ab/G#-A-C-D).

  • Blues uses b5, jazz uses #4.
    – Tim
    Aug 1 at 19:21
  • @Tim I've added the A-flat
    – PiedPiper
    Aug 1 at 19:25

One such scale is D locrian, but the chance that your melody is in D locrian is pretty small.

  • Could also be the octatonic scale in D.
    – Lazy
    Aug 1 at 19:07

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