Whole tone scale – Hexatonic

The hexatonic scale, or whole-tone scale, is a scale formed by the sequence: tone – tone – tone – tone – tone – tone – tone.

No wonder it is called “whole-tone scale”, right?! After all, all notes are 1 tone’s distance from each other.  Also, note that this scale has 6 notes, so the name “hexa” also makes sense!

Let’s see how the hexatonic scale of G looks like, applying this sequence (notice the degrees above the notes also):

hexatonic scale degrees

G Hexatonic Scale Shape:

hexatonic whole tone scale

Cool, but you are interested in knowing what this scale is for and where you can use it! So let’s get down to business:

How to use the Whole Tone Scale

The whole tone scale can be applied on top of the dominant chords. To do this, just play the hexatonic of the dominant in question. For example: in the Am7 | G7 | C  progression, we can play the hexatonic scale of G on top of G7.

Great, we will add a few more details next, but it’s good to know that the hexatonic scale is not as used as the diminished, harmonic minor or melodic minor scales. Its sound is not as “acclaimed” as these other scales; some musicians like it more, others less, and you’re the one who will decide when it’s worth using it or not. Our tip is that when you use it; try to play this scale over the altered dominants. Why?

Well, as we have already seen, the hexatonic scale has an augmented fourth and fifth, in addition to a minor seventh. The dominant V7 already has a minor seventh, so the hexatonic generates two alterations on it (the augmented fourth and fifth). When the dominant already has one of these alterations, the hexatonic sounds even better, right? So, here’s the reason!

In the next topic, we’ll talk a little more about the hexatonic scale, making a relationship with a special mode! Don’t miss it!

Go to: Lydian dominant mode

Back to: Module 11