We are trying to make songs sound "gypsy". We tried using double harmonic scale, but we're not sure how are we gonna make the chords fit the scale. Most of the songs we play are on major scale.

Anyone here knows how should we change the chords to make it sound gypsy?

  • The word "gypsy" is offensive to many Roma people. Perhaps you can re-word this question to eliminate the word? – Todd Wilcox Aug 7 '18 at 3:39
  • 4
    The trouble is that "gypsy jazz" is a term, while I've never heard of "Roma jazz". – Dekkadeci Aug 7 '18 at 5:48
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox Others embrace the term unionromani.org/union_in.htm The UNION ROMANI is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation which is concerned with defending the gypsy community or perhaps gypsycouncilusa.org – gingerbreadboy Aug 29 '18 at 13:45

The common way to create chords that fit the scale is simply to stack thirds above each scale pitch using only pitches from the scale.

In other words, let's say you're using the double harmonic scale based on C:

enter image description here

Let's just use those seven pitches to create triadic structures above each scale tone:

enter image description here

Playing around with these chords should automatically start to create the effect you're seeking.

But perhaps more importantly, you'll want to mimic Eastern progressions and melodic tropes in order to really get the sound you're looking for. A V–I progression won't really work with this scale, since the V triad isn't even a triad (nor is the vii chord). Instead you'll want to use something like ♭II–I at cadences (in this case, D♭ major moving to C major), which is a really common phrase ending in this style of music.

In addition to the V and vii chords not being true triads, you may want to stay away from the augmented ♭VI chord. As such, try initially limiting yourself to just I, ♭II, iii, and iv—C, D♭, Em, and Fm—and see if you're on the right track.

  • Does this mean, if I have a chord progression like, C - G - Am - F, to follow the double harmonic scale, I'll play it as, C - G (with no fifth) - Ab+ - Fm? Or do I have to change the chord progression and possibly all the chords? – Pengeng Piso Aug 8 '18 at 16:02
  • If you want to modify a major chord progression to fit into this double harmonic scale, then yes, that's what you would do. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the resulting sound will be what you're looking for. You'll want to look for typical chord progressions in that style (like the ♭II–I that I mentioned) and try and work with those. – Richard Aug 8 '18 at 16:13

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.