The Whole-tone scale
All the notes of the chromatic scale are spaced at equal (‘symmetrical’) , semitone, intervals. This scale is therefore a called a symmetric scale. One can also form a symmetric scale by selecting notes spaced at whole tone (2 semitones) intervals. This scale consists of six notes only and is called the Whole-tone scale.
Here the C whole-tone scale.
Any of the above notes can form the tonic of the whole-tone scale using the same six notes.
|C whole-tone scale||C D E F# G# A# C|
|D whole-tone scale||D E F# G# A# C D|
|E whole-tone scale||E F# G# A# C D E|
|F# whole-tone scale||F# G# A# C D E F#|
|G# whole-tone scale||G# A# C D E F# G#|
|A# whole-tone scale||A# C D E F# G# A#|
Jazz improvisers were quick to take up this new sound for improvisation over augmented triads and augmented 7th chords (+7 or 7aug).
8-note Symmetric scales
Other symmetric scales can be formed by alternating note spacings of tones and semitones. There are two possibilities.
8-note Dominant scale (semitone – tone – semitone – tone -)
This scale starts with a semitone between the tonic and 2nd note, then a tone between the 2nd and 3rd notes, again a semitone between the 3rd and 4th note, and so on.
In Jazz this scale is used as an alternative choice for improvisation over dominant 7th and altered dominant 7th chords .
8-note Diminished scale (tone – semitone – tone – semitone – )
This scale starts with a tone between the tonic and 2nd note, then a semitone between the 2nd and 3rd notes, again a tone between the 3rd and 4th note, and so on.
In Jazz this scale is used for improvisation over diminished chords
for print: Les Gammes symétriques (Whole-tone scales)