• Exotic Pentatonic Scales: Hirajoshi And Pelog Scales [Advanced Players Only]

    in Experienced players,General Music,Jazz music,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    In this lesson, we’ll be looking at exotic pentatonic scales.

    We’ve covered pentatonic scales in the past and they are characterized by their note aggregate (which is five notes per octave). We’ve learned about the major, minor, and blues pentatonic scales.

    “So, What Are We Really Doing Differently In This Lesson?”

    We’re studying two exotic pentatonic scales: Hirajoshi and Pelog.

    So, if you’re interested in incorporating that distinct oriental sound associated with Eastern music into your improvisation, keep reading.

    Attention: This lesson is written with advanced players in mind.

    Pentatonic Scale #1 – Hirajoshi

    The Hirajoshi scale is one of the Japanese scales that is explored by Jazz musicians who are interested in fresh scale options to improvise with.

    Here are the notes of the A Hirajoshi scale:

    …consisting of A, B, C, E, F, and A.

    The A Hirajoshi scale can also be played in two other ways:

    A Hirajoshi (Slonimski’s version):

    A Hirajoshi (Burrow’s version):

    The first version is associated with the minor key and minor chords and it’s commonly used.

    “Pay Attention To This…”

    Taking out the fourth and seventh tone of the A natural major scale:

    …which are D and G#:

    …produces the A major pentatonic scale:

    Repeating the same thing for the A natural minor scale:

    …we’ll remove the fourth and seventh scale tones (which are D and G):

    …to produce the A Hirajoshi scale:

    “For Your Reference, Here Are All The Hirajoshi Scales On The Keyboard…”

    The C Hirajoshi scale:

    The C# Hirajoshi scale:

    The D Hirajoshi scale:

    The Eb Hirajoshi scale:

    The E Hirajoshi scale:

    The F Hirajoshi scale:

    The F# Hirajoshi scale:

    The G Hirajoshi scale:

    The G# Hirajoshi scale:

    The A Hirajoshi scale:

    The Bb Hirajoshi scale:

    The B Hirajoshi scale:

    Pentatonic Scale #2 – Pelog

    The Balinese Pelog scale is one of the pentatonic scale options with an Indonesian origin.

    The Pelog scale can be associated with the Phrygian scale. I suppose you’re already familiar with the Phrygian scale (using the C Phrygian scale as a reference):

    Playing the C Phrygian scale:

    …without its fourth and seventh tones (which are F and Bb):

    …produces the C Balinese Pelog scale:

    “Check Out All The Pelog Scales On The Keyboard…”

    The C Pelog scale:

    The C# Pelog scale:

    The D Pelog scale:

    The D# Pelog scale:

    The E Pelog scale:

    The F Pelog scale:

    The F# Pelog scale:

    The G Pelog scale:

    The G# Pelog scale:

    The A Pelog scale:

    The Bb Pelog scale:

    The B Pelog scale:

    The Pelog scale is a great scale option while improvising over passages with Phrygian harmony. I’m sure you’ll love the sound of this exotic pentatonic scale all the way from Indonesia.

    Final Words

    Welcome back! How was your musical trip to Japan (Hirajoshi) and Indonesia (Pelog)?

    Now that you’ve learned two oriental minor pentatonic scales, feel free to play them over minor quality chords as the occasion demands and don’t forget that there is no limit to the rhythmic varieties you can approach these scales with — both in practice and in performance.

    Experiment with these exotic-sounding pentatonic scales and thank me later.

    Thank you for your time.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks! Anything to do with music, I am willing to try. Thanks


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