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Using the whole tone scale

gypsyjazzergypsyjazzer Brewood, United KingdomNew
edited August 2010 in Licks and Patterns Posts: 67
Hi Everyone,

One scale I rarely see appearing in transcriptions of Django's solos is the whole tone scale, yet many of the method books refer to it as being a feature of his improvisations - any thoughts?

With regard to playing, am I correct in thinking they are appropriate to use over dominant 7th chords, and if so, which ones? For example, if you were improvising over a G7th chord, which whole tone scale would you use, and do they bring you back to the I chord?

I believe whole tone scales work in a similar way to diminished scales in that by the nature of the intervals repeating themselves there are only a limited number of truly different whole tone scales, and not the full twelve, as in say major scales.

I like the sound of a whole tone scale, even though they can be difficult to play, so I'd like to know more about where to use them - any answers?



  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
    There are only two whole tone scales.
    If you play them on a dominant chord the one that has the root gives you: R, 9, 3, +11, +5 and b7.
    If you play the other scale starting on the b9 you get: b9, +9, 11, 5, 13 and Maj7. So in theory you can use either one, although the Maj7 can sound weird I've found it can work well over dominants and give you a bluesy color.
    Use your ears and experiment.
    Hope this helps.
  • gypsyjazzergypsyjazzer Brewood, United KingdomNew
    Posts: 67
    Thanks Harry,

    That's a very clear and concise explanation - I can even see that if I'd taken the time to work the notes out myself, I would have been able to see their relationship to the dominant chord - so I've learned two things from this, both of which will help me in the future.

    Much appreciated.

  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
  • I like to practice them over songs with descending chord patters such as on Fiso Place, Sweet Sue, Gypsy Fire, or Sweet Georgia Brown... I'm not sure that is the best place to practice them, but thats what I do.
    Jon Austen, Portland, OR
    playing since 1997
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
    There are some cool whole tone licks on the new Dennis DVDs, I think on volume 3. Ans also some really mind blowing ones on the Symetrical augmented scale.
  • I was daydreaming about playing wholetone over a Minor Chord in my car and I thought of this:

    [quote]A7 tension . . . . . . . Dm release

    anyone have any thoughts on this? (notice that the pattern switches whole tone scales on the 1st and 2nd strings.)

    so, if there were two versions of wholetone: wW and Ww

    then, while in the A7 tension chord i play wW on strings 5,4,and 3, then switch to Ww on strings 2 and 1. then, on the resolved chord (Dm) I play the wW on 1st and 2nd string then switch to the Ww on strings 3,4, and 5.

    just a daydreaming thought.... it probably has no meaning.
    Jon Austen, Portland, OR
    playing since 1997
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    Weird...I was doing the same thing (daydreaming). This is what I was thinking:


    or maybe end it on D...
    (hmmm...just played it for the first time, and it sounds like I might be ripping off Appel Direct without thinking about it....)

  • reminds me a little of Dennis' lick:

    Jon Austen, Portland, OR
    playing since 1997
  • Posts: 1
    I guess I am replying to an old post......

    I have always thought the 'B' section melody of Babik was a whole tone thing. I often attempt whole tone soloing through the entire 'B' section, I like the sound of it.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,900
    I think Django does a whole tone thing over the turn around in the middle of his take on the head for the ballad part of Billets Deux. It's over a D7 chord. If someone can tell me how to post a sound clip/transcription I'll do it but it starts out on the 12th fret first string with a hammer on/pull off then goes to third string 13th fret.....

    Oh, and Rhythm Futur
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