Algerian scale

The Algerian Scale is a scale frequently used in Algerian, Berber, and North African music. The frequent use of 1.5 steps (a minor 3rd) in the scale contributes to a sound commonly associated with Moorish music.

It is also defined as an eleven note scale with two augmented seconds. Jacques Ibert first used this definition in Escales (1924).[3]

Scale formula

In step notation:

  • W, H, WH, H, H, WH, H
  • W = Whole step
  • H = Half step
  • WH = Whole-and-a-half step

or in decimals:

  • 1 step + 0.5 step + 1.5 step + 0.5 step + 0.5 step + 1.5 step + 0.5 step.

This formula gives the first octave only. In the second octave, the third step is 1 rather than 1.5, followed by a step of 1 rather than 0.5. This may be seen in images to the right. In the one on the bottom (with the three-octave spanning scale, Fischer 1996), the lower octave shows an F while the upper octave shows an F natural.

This can also be notated as degrees in relation to the root note:

  • First octave: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Second octave: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

It can also be thought of as Harmonic Minor with a raised 4 in the first octave.

Sources

  1. Middlebrook, Ron (1984). Scales and Modes in the Beginning, p.125. ISBN 0-89898-151-4.
  2. Fischer, Peter (1996). Rock Guitar Secrets, p.160. Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 3-927190-62-4, ISBN 978-3-927190-62-7.
  3. Robert Fink, Robert Ricci (1975). The Language of Twentieth Century Music: A Dictionary of Terms, p.3. Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-870600-5, ISBN 978-0-02-870600-9.
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