The song/riff in question is in the intro of a song by "After the Burial" called "Cursing Akhenaten".

I cut a full measure out of the intro and looped it. I uploaded it for anyone who wants to take a crack at the answer. Here's the link - Intro of Cursing Akhenaten

Also, there are tabs for the song located here but I can't say for sure that they are accurate.

Does anyone know what scale this is? On another, yet related, note, are there any sites that try to help identify scales provided tablature and tuning?

  • I believe it's G# - the chord is G# C D#
    – kobik
    Mar 12, 2012 at 11:28
  • 1
    G# does not have a C, only a B# and a C#. And it does not sound like a major scale...
    – Gauthier
    Mar 12, 2012 at 15:34
  • That reminds me of Love, Hate, Love by Alice in Chains. I can't seem to determine the key of that song right now but I will investigate later today. Mar 12, 2012 at 15:43
  • @Gauthier, G#/Ab maj is G#-C-D#. and it's in fact a major scale.
    – kobik
    Mar 18, 2012 at 11:02
  • 3
    G#-B#-D# is G#, Ab-C-Eb is Ab. There is no C in G# major, there is a B#. B# and C are enharmonics (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enharmonic), which means that they sound the same (in equal temperament) but may not be used interchangeably. These chords are major triads, not scales. What I referred to when I wrote that it did not sound like a major scale was the sample linked to in the question.
    – Gauthier
    Mar 18, 2012 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


It sounds like a minor harmonic scale starting on its fifth. If it is the case, that is called Phrygian major 3rd/Phrygian dominant, and played on a 7b9 chord.

Starting on an A (A phrygian major 3rd):

A - Bb - C# - D - E - F - G - A

Edited to start on G# (G# phrygian major 3rd):

G# - A - B# - C# - D# - E - F# - G#


I just went from the sound of it, I can't read tabs too well and I am not sure of the guitar's tuning in the loop you linked to (a score notation would help).


I think the notes are G# A C D# E F# G#, which is part of the E major b13 scale over G# (E harmonic major = E F# G# A B C D# E).


  • I have no idea what scale this is but what I hear are these notes: G#-A-C-C#-D#-E-F#-G# perhaps more correctly written as G#-A-B#-C#-D#-E-F#-G#. 1/2-3/2-1/2-1-1/2-1-1 steps.
    – filzilla
    Mar 16, 2012 at 23:35
  • I wonder if this is a transitional arpeggio where there are actually 2 scales in play? Yours is the closest one to what I am hearing hence my comments here.
    – filzilla
    Mar 16, 2012 at 23:42
  • @filzilla: Actually, your scale is the Phrygian major 3rd scale I refer to in my answer. Only I give my example starting on A instead of G# (now edited to add G# phrygian major 3rd).
    – Gauthier
    Mar 18, 2012 at 18:27
  • @Stefan: I - as filzilla - hear a C# as well.
    – Gauthier
    Mar 18, 2012 at 18:32

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