Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music

Posted by: pianoloverus

Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 10:34 AM

Is there a name for this scale? It seems it is used a lot in Middle Eastern or traditional Jewish music?

D, E flat, F sharp, G, A, (B flat, C sharp, D)
I put the last thre notes in parentheses because I'm not sure they're part of the same scale.
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 11:32 AM

Phrygian dominant (a.k.a Spanish Phrygian) perhaps?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale

Michael B.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 12:23 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by PoStTeNeBrAsLuX:
Phrygian dominant (a.k.a Spanish Phrygian) perhaps?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale

Michael B. [/b]
Yes, I think that's right because I use that scale when playing Hava Nagila(which is mentioned in the Wiki article).
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 01:17 PM

pianoloverus (re the Phrygian dominant):
I use that scale when playing Hava Nagila[/b]

And I use the Phruitian dominant scale when playing Hava Banana \:\)

Michael B.
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 05:06 PM

It's used in many cultures, such as the Spanish music already mentioned. (Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody comes to mind)

In Arabic music, it's called "Hijaz".

In Jewish music, it's alternately called "Freygish" because it is an altered Phrygian, or simply "Altered Phrygian." It's also sometimes called "Ahava Rabah", named after a prayer which at one time used it. All of the Jewish modes - called "steigers" – have two names, one technical, and one named after a particular tune.

You're right to bracket the last few notes. The typical Jewish mode does not have the augmented second at the top, but the Arabic mode does. Of course there is cross-over, so take the terms "Jewish" and "Arabic" with a grain of salt.
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 05:13 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
 Quote:
Originally posted by PoStTeNeBrAsLuX:
Phrygian dominant (a.k.a Spanish Phrygian) perhaps?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale

Michael B. [/b]
Yes, I think that's right because I use that scale when playing Hava Nagila(which is mentioned in the Wiki article). [/b]
Do you know Alexander Krein's version of Hava Nagila, from his incidental music to a play by Peretz in 1925? It's really neat and shows very well why the mode is sometimes called "Phrygian Dominant." Because of the half-step at the bottom and the augmented second which seems like a leading tone, the first four notes of a freygish scale sounds very much like the top four notes of a harmonic minor scale. In other words, the tonic of a freygish scale sounds like the dominant of a minor scale.

Krein's music is fascinating, because at the end, in the first ending, he lands very solidly on a G minor chord. We think that this is the tonic, right, g minor? But then it returns to the opening theme of Hava Nagila, which is in D freygish. It sounds at first like the dominant of G, but then it sounds really exotic as a new sort of tonic.

Oh, and I have to mention measure 5 - neapolitan 7th clashing with the tonic! Pretty wacky stuff.

It\'s the second piece in this score, although the two pieces are tied together
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 05:24 PM

It's kind of a confusing scale, because it's like a cross between major and minor.

The tonic triad is D F# A - a major triad. But it has the lowered scale degree 6, so the subdominant triad is actually a minor triad, G Bb D.

Plus, if you play the first five notes as a scale, you miss the major-ness of it, because of the flat 2 and augmented second.

And as I mentioned before, there's the confusion of a freygish tonic sounding exactly like a harmonic minor dominant.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 06:40 PM

Thanks for all the info Sam. I'll try and include part of Krein's version of Hava Nagila when I play(hopefully)my own version at my Grandmother's 110th birthday party in August.

I wasn't surprised that everyone said the scale was used in Jewish and Arabic music, but I was surprised about the Spanish music because it doesn't sound Spanish to me.

Does anyone know any other piano works besides the Spanish Rhapsody that use this scale? Specifically any piano works by Albeniz, de Falla, Granados, Ravel or Debussy? I thought of one that I think may use it...Debussy's prelude La Puerta del Vino but I can't think if any other examples.
Posted by: David-G

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 07:36 PM

What a wonderful birthday to be in prospect.
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 07:45 PM

I don't know the Spanish repertoire very well, but the Spanish have a long history of interaction with the Arabs (in both directions), so I imagine that the music might have mixed (in both directions) in many ways, culturally and politically. As you probably know, it also had associations with the gypsies, i.e. Ravel's "Tsigane".
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: Scale for Middle Eastern/Jewish music - 02/15/09 07:46 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by David-G:
What a wonderful birthday to be in prospect. [/b]
Indeed, congratulations!