Enigmatic scale

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The enigmatic scale is a heptatonic scale that can be built using the following intervals between notes: ½, 1½, 1, 1, 1, ½, ½.

One example of the scale is: C, Db, E, F#, G#, A#, B. This scale is shown below in traditional notation and in guitar tablature notation.

Ascending enigmatic scale in traditional notation

Ascending enigmatic scale in guitar tablature notation

The descending enigmatic scale sometimes lowers the fourth. The descending enigmatic scale in the example above would be C, B, A#, G#, F, E, Db, as shown below.

Descending enigmatic scale in traditional notation

Descending enigmatic scale in traditional notation

The scale is interesting as it was posed as a musical challenge in Milan in late 1800s and is the underlying scale of Giuseppe Verdi’s "Ave Maria".

Modes of the enigmatic scale

The enigmatic scale has no commonly used modes beside the scale itself.

Three-note chords on the enigmatic scale

The following are common triads built on the notes of the enigmatic scale.

  • On the root of the scale (on the tonic): augmented chord (e.g., Caug composed of C, E, G#).
  • On the second note (on the supertonic): minor chord (Dbm = Db, E, G#) or suspended chord (Dbsus4 = Db, F#, G#).
  • On the third note (on the mediant): major chord (E = E, G#, B), augmented chord (Eaug = E, G#, C), or suspended chord (Esus2 = E, F#, B).
  • On the fourth note (on the subdominant): major chord (F# = F#, A#, Db) or suspended chords (F#sus4 = F#, B, Db and F#sus2 = F#, G#, Db).
  • On the fifth note (on the dominant): augmented chord (G#aug = G#, C, E).
  • On the sixth note (on the submediant): diminished chord (A#dim = A#, Db, E).
  • On the seventh note (on the leading tone): suspended chords (Bsus4 = B, E, F# and Bsus2 = B, Db, F#).

Four-note chords on the enigmatic scale

The following are seventh chords built on the notes of the enigmatic scale.

  • On the first note: augmented major seventh chord (a major seventh chord with a sharp fifth, e.g. Cmaj7#5 composed of C, E, G#, B) and an augmented seventh chord (C7#5 = C, E, G#, A#).
  • On the second note: minor seventh chord (Dbmin7 = Db, E, G#, B) or minor-major seventh chord (Dbmmaj7 = Db, E, G#, C).
  • On the third note: there are no common seventh chords.
  • On the fourth note: dominant seventh chord (F#7 = F#, A#, Db, E).
  • On the fifth note: augmented seventh chord (G#7#5 = G#, C, E, F#).
  • On the sixth note: half diminished seventh chord (minor seventh chord with a flat fifth, A#m7b5 = A#, Db, E, G#).
  • On the seventh note: there are no common chords.

Intervals on the enigmatic scale

The enigmatic scale is composed of the following intervals.

  • A minor second, e.g., the interval between C and Db is equal to one semitone.
  • A major third, e.g., the interval between C and E is equal to four semitones.
  • An augmented fourth, e.g., the interval between C and F# is equal to six semitones.
  • An augmented fifth, e.g., the interval between C and G# is equal to eight semitones.
  • An augmented sixth, e.g., the interval between C and A# is equal to ten semitones.
  • A major seventh, e.g., the interval between C and B is equal to eleven semitones.

See also:
Scale, Scale (index)



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