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Lesson 118: Scales/ Tone Sets Part II - Tetrachords and More

Where Do Scales Come from?

A scale can be obtained in a number of ways. Here we are going to look at two different ways:

  • combination of tetrachords
  • insertion of notes between chord tones

Tetrachords

A tetrachord is four tones within the interval of a ( perfect) fourth.

This is a major tetrachord:

and this is a minor tetrachord:

Combination of Tetrachords

Conjunct tetrachords share a note. Disjunct tetrachords are separated by a ( major) second.

If we combine a major tetrachord from C with a major one from G we get:

This is what is commonly known as a major scale.

If we combine a minor tetrachord from C with a minor one from G we get:

This is what is commonly known as a Dorian minor scale.

If we combine a major tetrachord from C with a minor one from G we get:

This is what is commonly known as a Mixolydian scale.

If we combine a minor tetrachord from C with a major one from G we get:

This is what is commonly known as a melodic minor ( jazz minor) scale.

More Tetrachords

We can also introduce the following tetrachords - Phrygian, Lydian and Phrygian Major:

By utilizing these types as well we can obtain many new scales/ modes. These are for example:

  • Lydian ( Lydian and Major tetrachord)
  • natural minor ( Minor and Phrygian tetrachord)
  • harmonic minor ( Minor and Phrygian Major tetrachord)
  • Phrygian ( Phrygian and Phrygian tetrachord)
  • Lydian b7 ( Lydian and Minor tetrachord)
  • Phrygian Major ( Phrygian Major and Phrygian tetrachord)
  • harmonic major ( Major and Phrygian Major tetrachord)
  • whole tone ( Lydian from C and Lydian from F# tetrachord)
  • diminished ( Minor from C and Minor from F# tetrachord)

Insertion of Notes Between Chord Tones

You can build a scale from a chord by inserting notes between the chord tones.

The maj7 Chord

Take this Cmaj7 chord and its chord tones:

Now insert notes between the chord tones. This can be done in a number of ways.

You can obtain a major scale:

You can obtain a Lydian scale:

The m7 Chord

Take this Cm7 chord and its chord tones:

Now insert notes between the chord tones. This can be done in a number of ways.

You can obtain a natural minor scale:

You can obtain a Dorian minor scale:

You can obtain a Phrygian scale:

The 7 Chord

Take this C7 chord and its chord tones:

Now insert notes between the chord tones. This can be done in a number of ways.

You can obtain a Mixolydian scale:

You can obtain a Lydian b7 scale:

You can obtain a Mixolydian b6 scale:

You can obtain a Phrygian Major scale:

Check out lesson 24, where scales/ modes are explored in detail.

2011 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.