Double Harmonic Major Scale (byzantine/Arabic)


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Double Harmonic Major Scale


– Scale Structure: 1 ♭2 3 4 5 ♭6 7
– Characteristic Notes: ♭2 & ♮3, ♭6 & ♮7
– Analogous to the fifth mode of the Hungarian Minor Scale

Double Harmonic Major Scale

The Double Harmonic Major originates from the traditional music of the Balkan Peninsula, the Middle East, and India. This series of notes is known as Hijaz Kar in Arabic music, which is a type of maqam, a concept similar to Western scales. This scale also corresponds to the ragas named Bhairav and Mayamalavagowla in Indian classical music. Other more colloquial names include the Byzantine scale, Arabic scale, or Ionian ♭2 ♭6.

Structurally, the scale features augmented 2nd intervals (3 half-steps) between scale degrees ♭2 & 3 and ♭6 & 7.

Tips) Maqamat, Ragas, and Scales
The Western concept of a scale (a collection of notes with a tonic) loosely corresponds to the Arabic maqam (plural maqamat) and the Indian raga. However, each of these also includes a basic framework for improvisation and guidelines on how certain pitches should function in music.

Examples of Music with Double Harmonic Major Scale

– Warda Al-Jazairia, “Haramt Ahebak” from the album Haramt Ahebak (1993)

– Omar Bashir, “Taqsîm Maqâm Hijâz Kâr Kurd, Pt. 1” from the album Taqâsîm (2012)

– Dick Dale, “Misirlou” from the movie Pulp Fiction (1994)

– Camille Saint-Saëns, “Bacchanale” from the opera Samson and Delilah (Premiered in 1877) 

– Rainbow, “Gates of Babylon” from the album Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (1978)

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View complete editions of music scores (PDF), score analysis (PDF), and HD music examples used in this lesson.

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