I was jamming on a music piece and found that this scale fits the harmony.

I have found the scale by using my ear, I see it is very similar to diminished F scale but can't find what scale it is. Here are the keys : F Gb Ab A B C D Eb <<< EDITIED

The song is on Am. Melody line : E E F D | D D E C | C C D B

Harmony_________________ : Dm chord| Am chord| here Gb as only a tone.

from the Gb voice or tone I have derived the scale mentioned above.

I think it is a jazzy scale. Do you know a scale like this ?

Thanks in advance

  • The song has an E in it, whereas your notes include an Eb.Should the 'song be IN Am, rather than ON Am? - Just trying to clear up red herrings! – Tim Apr 19 '14 at 10:02
  • sorry for misconceptions. Yes I meant "in Am" aha so my scale does not fit maybe only its first notes fit. So from where did the Gb tone come ? Is it a leading tone ? (It sounds nice) – Was.Francis Apr 19 '14 at 10:18
  • Is the next bar Gmaj? If so, the Gb is an F# leading tone/note. – Tim Apr 19 '14 at 10:38
  • it goes back to Am. maybe I have to post the melody line exactly to clarify for you. but thank you for your info. – Was.Francis Apr 19 '14 at 11:55

This can be called an F Diminished scale. In classical music theory it would usually be called an Octatonic Scale. It is a mode of limited transposition (it has a constantly repeating tone-semitone interval pattern). It has a number of interesting properties, for instance, the scale contains a pair of diminished 7th arpeggios, a semitone apart.

For any particular starting pitch, there are two possible Octatonic scales: one starting with a tone; one starting with a semitone. Interestingly, there are only three possible Octatonic scales (if you consider them by pitch set, and ignore the starting note). For instance, the scales starting: E-F; F-Gb; F#-G. All other Octatonic scales will contain EXACTLY the same notes as one of these scales (hence "limited transposition").

As this scale has 8 notes, two of the pitch names always have to have the same letter (Ab and A in your example). This is also sometimes reflected in chord types associated with this scale; for instance the Gb, Ab and A in this chord would make it a b9/#9 chord, even though, in theory, it has two thirds.

  • 1
    - just like the diminished chords - there's only really 3 of those, with several names each. – Tim Apr 19 '14 at 11:53

I agree with Bob Broadley's comprehensive answer. For better understanding here's a visual image of this scale. The symmetry is apparent:

Octatonic scale

In the context of Am key (based on the C diatonic scale). The dominant would be E7. It it a good place for alterations. In that case a different mode of this octatonic scale could work well, a half-tone lower, based on E. This way the E octatonic would contain the E7 chord (E Ab B D), as well as its alterations: b9 (F), #9 (A), b5 (Bb) and 13 (Db) in addition.

The other thing is that both F and E octatonic contain the Ab diminished chord which work well with the Am chord. In fact these two added together make up the A harmonic minor scale. It is used widely - eg. from Bach to Latin jazz.

  • Bearing in mind there are two often used octotonic scales, the halftone/tone, and the tone/halftone, it's confusing to talk about 'F and E octotonic', as they could well be the same set of notes! If they are not, then both together will contain every note known to Man ! Assuming you mean the E half/whole, that would contain E,F,G,G#,A#,B,C#and D. Not a harmonic minor. If you meant F,F#,G#,A,B,C,D,Eb that's not either. Can you help me to understand ? – Tim Apr 19 '14 at 14:30
  • First thank you for your information. I meant F,F#,G#,A,B,C,D,Eb so it is not ? I'm trying to figure out why they used F# key in the harmony. – Was.Francis Apr 19 '14 at 16:20
  • 1
    Ah, sorry if the answer was not clear. I meant the canonic octatonic scale, ie. the one with the lowest entropy. In this case it is the half/whole. In general we can think about 3 different modes of this scale. One making the 110... pattern (half/whole), 101 (whole/half) and 011... pattern (without a common name). This one on the image can be called F half/whole (or equally Gb whole/half, etc.) and the one I was talking about that could be also suitable can be called E half/whole. As for the reference to the A harmonic minor: Am chord + Ab dim chord together make up the A harmonic minor. – Bohumir Zamecnik Apr 20 '14 at 17:00

It is in fact a half/whole diminished. It goes up the scale insteps that alternate between a semitone and a tone. The oppo. to this, is, unsurprisingly, the whole/half diminished scale. No prizes for working out the configuration !

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.