Music Theory – The Whole Tone Scale

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In this short scale tutorial we will be discussing the Whole Tone Scale.
The Whole Tone scale is a six-note or Hexatonic scale. It has no half steps and thus no leading tone. All six notes are separated by a whole step or whole tone. There are only 2 different whole tone scales. The scale is used in both classical music and jazz extensively. Many film scores rely on it’s ambiguous nature to create dream like effects with it. Claude Debussy used the scale extensively as did other impressionist composers between 1875-1925.

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Comments

Metal Fortress says:

Whole Tone is awesome, it can be used well for film music where you basically see something unreal, surreal, something that human brains can not understand but see it with their eyes

Negrito Kimba says:

thank you, vero good musicsian you are good profesional.

Casey 3-P-O says:

I just noticed this: if you are playing in a whole tone scale, let's say A whole tone scale, you could play an A7 chord, but leave out the fifth. Now take that chord and move everything up a full step, and another full step, and so on. For me, on guitar, that's a super easy way of looking at the whole tone scale. It's just a really simple shape that you could move anywhere on the neck and always have 3 notes that fit into the scale. And if you like to use a lot of arpeggios in your improvisation, then it makes this scale less foreign if you've never used it before. That just one of many symmetrical shapes this scale produces on the guitar neck. The two easiest things to play on guitar, melody-wise, are the whole tone scale and fully diminished 7th arpeggios.

Alvaro Faria says:

Great video Rick! Thanks!

Joe's Shredroom says:

Does that D+ over C+ remind anyone else of Ghostbusters? I swear, they did exactly that at one point in the movie score.

Fenderking says:

Opeth like the whole tone scale

voronOsphere says:

Thanks, Rick! I just found this! I'm gonna be all over this lesson!

noobslayeru says:

Can you talk about the brightness of this scale like you can talk about the brightness of modes of major and minor? If so, is it darker or brighter than major?

Paulie Rosanski says:

yes this video was informative, thanks Rick

Michael Burmy says:

I remember the whole tone scale we used in choir class:

(up) "Charles Ives likes to use whole tones."

(down) "Lights are on but no one's home."

S. Wade says:

Sounded like a King Crimson riff for a second at around 10:00 in. Good stuff!

Ves Ok says:

The Bb augmented chord has both a flat and a sharp in it because the fifth BF is diminished, unlike all other fifths which are perfect. You could also say that the BbF is a perfect fifth, whereas all other perfect fifths either have 2 natural tones, 2 flat tones, or 2 sharp tones. So the augmented fifth from eg. C would be CG#, D would have DA#, but Bb has BbF#, or B has BFx.

Harrison Vann says:

This "five minute series" video feels twice as long to me… lol

Jay Cutler says:

Great hair dude

Enough BS says:

Your videos always have a hint of arrogance and douche to them.

donald prince says:

Robert Fripp of King Crimson composed the great masterpiece entitled "Fracture" using these scales. Very hard song to master on the guitar!

jeymz361 says:

You should check out Shady Cicada’s video where he made a metal song using only the whole tone scale. He doesn’t break any of it down but he gets a lot of great sounds, riffs, and chords out of it!

Brok Homz says:

Sounds like old Friday the 13th trailer

Myuzishin says:

Proof that Google spies. I was literally noodling a whole tone pattern minutes before opening YouTube.

tannerin says:

aka how to write a cardiacs song

William Li says:

sound like king crimson

markparee99 says:

Every 1950's horror b-movie score I've ever heard.has a lot of this

MunecaGee says:

What does augmented mean?

Joe DeLong says:

The Holdsworth sounding part at the end, to me, sounds like the ending of “Ruhkukah” from his Hard Hat Area album.

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