Hirojoshi scale

Recall that we defined scale as:
a group of notes within an octave (and any octaves of those notes) usually played one at a time.

We can describe (define) a scale in any of these ways:
- by letters (representing specific pitches)
- by numbers (representing specific intervals)
- by step pattern (describing intervals from note to note)

So for example the major scale (ionian mode) can be described/ defined as/by: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C (in the key of C), 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, and W-W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2.

We define a minor scale as a scale containing the notes (intervals) 1,b3,5.
(In other words, using the notes in the scale we can construct a minor chord off the root note)

From either Hirajoshi = W-1/2-M3-1/2-M3, or A-Hirojoshi = A-B-C-E-F-A we can find the intervals (from the root note) to be 1,2,b3,5,b6.

Looking at the numbers, we can deduce that the gypsy minor scale is a minor scale (not THE minor scale everyone talks about - that would be the aeolian mode, but a minor scale none-the-less). that is, it contains the notes 1,b3,5.

We also note that it is similar to THE minor scale. The aeolian mode (THE minor scale) has the intervals 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7; and the Hirojoshi scale has the intervals 1,2,b3,5,b6. So we could view the Hirojoshi scale as an aeolian scale with missing notes.

So lets look at some patterns (moveable shapes) with which we can play the Hirojoshi scale.

|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|
|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|--|-5|
|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|--|-2|b3|
|--|--|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|
|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|
|-1|--|-2|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|

Hirojoshi scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|

Hirojoshi scale "D-shape" (root note on the 4th string)

|-2-|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|

Hirojoshi scale "C-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|

Hirojoshi scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|-5-|---|
|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|

Hirojoshi scale "G-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|---|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|---|

We recall, that we can derive chords by harmonizing scales. We've previously harmonized the major scale in thirds to get triads, and seventh chords (see August 19th's, and august 16th's lessons)

two adjacent strings:
Seperated by a P4

|---|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|-1-|
|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|---|---|---|---|

seperated by a M3

|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|-1-|
|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|---|---|---|---|---|

We found for the minor scale (aeolian mode) The following triads:
i-iio-bIII-iv-v-bVI-bVII

We can create "Hirojoshi" progressions. Doing so may give us a framework to analyze songs, and find good opportunities to employ the hirojoshi scale. it's also good practice for songwriting, etc. In reality, this approach is less useful for pentatonic scales than for larger scales.

We see above the following chords for hirojoshi:
in triads: i-IIb5(no3)-bIII(4)-Vsus4-bVIb5
in 7th chords: i-II7b5(no3)-bIIImaj7(4)-Vsus4-bVImaj7b5
in 9th chords: iadd9-II7b9b5(no3)-bIIImaj7(4)-Vaddb9sus4-bVImaj7b5
in 11th chords: iadd9-II11b9b5(no3)-bIIImaj7(4)-Vaddb9sus4-bVImaj7#11b5
in 13th chords: iadd9/b13-II11b9b5(no3)-bIIImaj7/13(4)-Vaddb9/b13sus4-bVImaj7#11b5

So we could take any of the chords in the above paragraph and create a hirojoshi progression out of it. We really should include some type of I chord (i, iadd9, iadd9b13, etc.) and it should be the predominant chord in our progression, with a feeling of resolution when we come back to it.

This scale works well with playing 4ths and 5ths rather than whole chords.

Where/when does one usually decide to use hirojoshi?
- In Japanese folk music (see the blurb below) - some would use it over the iadd9 chord in the minor scale/key context (play i-hirojoshi over iadd9)
- over several chords that fit within a gypsy minor context (see above chords for harmonic minor).
- over a related modal progression, use the relative hirojoshi scale.

We can increase our familiarity by singing every note as we practice our scales/soloing. In previous lessons on scales i've given some basic pointers on starting to solo. Those things transfer here too. Just replace the scale in question with the hirojoshi scale (see lessons from May 24th, june 7th, july 5th, and august 2nd). We take a brief look at the modes of the Hirojoshi scale. If you're not sure what modes are how to find them, how to use them, etc. Go back to the lessons on modes and come back to this part of the lesson when you've fully understood those concepts. For those who are up to speed, the following is a brief summary of the modes of the Hirojoshi scale, and an opportunity to put you're knowledge of scales and modes to the test. Homework at bottom, but also take one of these scales and go through the "create your own scale lesson" excercise.

Modes of the Hirojoshi Scale.

Hirajoshi = W-1/2-M3-1/2-M3 = 1,2,b3,5,b6
Iwato = 1/2-M3-1/2-M3-W = 1,b2,4,b5,b7
= M3-1/2-M3-W-1/2 = 1,3,4,6,7
Kumoi (Japanese) = 1/2-M3-W-1/2-M3 = 1,b2,4,5,b6
= M3-W-1/2-M3-1/2 = 1,3,#4,5,7

Iwato (2nd mode of Hirojoshi scale)
has the step pattern 1/2-M3-1/2-M3-W
and the intervals 1,b2,4,b5,b7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
Ib5(no3)-bII(4)-IVsus4-bVb5-bvii

Iwato scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|b7-|
|---|---|---|-4-|b5-|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|-4-|b5-|---|---|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|

Iwato scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|b5-|---|---|---|b7-|
|---|---|---|---|-4-|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|-4-|b5-|---|---|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|b5-|---|---|---|b7-|

3rd mode of Hirojoshi scale
has the step pattern M3-1/2-M3-W-1/2
and the intervals 1,3,4,6,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
I(4)-IIIsus4-IVb5-vi-VIIb5(no3)

3rd mode of the Hirojoshi scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-6-|---|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|

3rd mode of the Hirojoshi scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|---|---|---|-6-|---|
|---|---|---|-3-|-4-|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-6-|---|

Kumoi (4th mode of Hirojoshi scale)
has the step pattern 1/2-M3-W-1/2-M3
and the intervals 1,b2,4,5,b6.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
Isus4-bIIb5-iv-Vb5(no3)-bVI(4)

Kumoi scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|-4-|---|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|---|

Kumoi scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-4-|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|-4-|---|-5-|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|

5th mode of Hirojoshi scale
has the step pattern M3-W-1/2-M3-1/2
and the intervals 1,3,#4,5,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
Ib5-iii-#iVb5(no3)-V(4)-VIIsus4

5th mode of the Hirojoshi scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|
|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|

5th mode of the Hirojoshi scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|
|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|

Having looked at Hirojoshi the way that we would any other scale, it should be pointed out that the Hirojoshi scale is actually a koto tuning. The koto is a 13 string japanese zither-like instrument. So the sound has a historical context that goes along with it, and it is one of several koto tunings. If you were going to learn koto (sure, why not, you can pick one up on ebay for around $500 as the writing of this lesson), you would probably use this tuning for the instrument,

Koto tunings (all pitches are ascending except for 1st string which is a p5 above the 2nd string, all 2nd strings starting in octave below middle C).

Hirojoshi tuning:
E-A-B-C-E-F-A-B-C-E-F-A-B

Kumoi-joshi tuning:
E-A-Bb-D-E-F-A-Bb-D-E-F-A-Bb

Hirojoshi (d mode) [hirochoshi] tuning:
D-G-A-Bb-D-Eb-G-A-Bb-D-Eb-G-A

Nogijoshi tuning: (pentatonic major)
D-G-A-B-D-E-G-A-B-D-E-G-A

Gakujoshi tuning: (Egytian scale)
D-G-A-C-D-E-G-A-C-D-E-G-A

Analysing the tunings as scales we find:
Hirojoshi = A-B-C-E-F = W-1/2-M3-1/2-M3 = 1,2,b3,5,b6
Kumoijoshi = A-Bb-D-E-F = 1/2-M3-W-1/2-M3 = 1,b2,4,5,b6
Hirojoshi (d mode) = G-A-Bb-D-E = W-1/2-M3-W-m3 = 1,2,b3,5,6
Nogijoshi = G-A-B-D-E = W-W-m3-W-m3 = 1,2,3,5,6 = Pent.maj.
Gakujoshi = G-A-C-D-E = W-m3-W-W-m3 = 1,2,4,5,6 = Egytian

The first Hirojoshi listed is the same as the scale we've focused on this lesson.
Kumoijoshi is the same as the mode of hirojoshi in this lesson called kumoi.
The 3rd tuning belongs to a different set of pentatonic scales.
Nogijoshi is the same as pentatonic major, and Gakujoshi is the same as Egyptian.

Extra homework, go back to the modes of the pentatonic scales and see if you can play them and try to make it sound Japanese!

Next lesson is on the Pelog scale.

Peace,
Christopher Roberts
snglstringtheory@aol.com

How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html

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Last updated June 24, 2004
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