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A Short Text on the Hungarian Minor Scale for Trackers


If I were forced to pick one scale which evoked feelings of majesty in the night, it would be the Hungarian minor scale. It is one note different from the Harmonic minor scale, and thus two notes different from the natural minor scale. The scale has a raised 4th which adds extra harmonic character to the scale. Together with the major 7th, the scale has all the vitality of the major scale, but while being a minor scale with a tritone available in 4 places on the scale (the I, II, IV, VI all have a tritone connected to them).

The notes in C are:              C, D, Eb, F#, G, Ab, B
(with all sharps for trackers):  C, D, D#, F#, G, G#, B

Due to the position of the notes on the scale, consonant, uninverted triads are only available on I, V, VI, and VII. However, VI may be major or minor, and the VII has this property as well. Therefore, chord progressions may take advantage of the harmonic richness concentrated in the upper half of the scale, using the I as a focal point and moving backwards to chords one the VII, VI, and V. Aproperty that can be exploited is that the I is minor, and the VII triad may be minor as well, creating a unique sound as one minor chord moves a half step backward into another minor chord.

It should be noted that playing dyads rather than triads can give more freedom of expression within the scale, opening up the bottom half of the scale in terms of root notes. Also, inversions can be played on the II and III to great effect.

When playing melodies, there are two places in the scale which have an interval of a step and a half (between the III and IV and the VI and VII). This can be exploited to give a melodic flavor which can't be found in scales without this intervallic leap. The IV, V, and VI are each a half step from the previous degree, and this rather jarring arrangement can also be used to add uniqueness to one's melodies.

By playing a mode of this scale, staring on the V, one is playing the scale used in much Arab music.

Try playing the notes in blues-rhythm context!

All in all the Hungarian minor scale is in my opinion a logical place to go once one has mastered the Harmonic minor scale, and is under-used in the West, providing much grandeur and introducing new harmonic and melodic possibilities to one's music.

(Comments, additions, feedback welcome...)

All modes of the Hungarian minor scale:
Tonic: Hungarian minor scale (A: A B C D# E F G#)
2nd: Oriental scale (C: C C# E F F# A A#)
3rd: Ionian Augmented #2 (C: C D# E F G# A B)
4th: Locrian bb3 bb7 (B: B C C# E F G G#)
5th: Double harmonic (E: E F G# A B C D#)
6th: Lydian #2 #6 (F: F G# A B C D# E)
7th: Ultraphrygian (E: E F G G# B C C#)


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