Pelog 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 Pelog = 1/2-W-M3-m3-W, or E-Pelog = E-F-G-B-D-E we can find the intervals (from the root note) to be 1,b2,b3,5,b7.

Looking at the numbers, we can deduce that the pelog 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 phrygian scale. The phrygian mode has the intervals 1,b2,b3,4,5,b6,b7; and the Pelog scale has the intervals 1,b2,b3,5,b7. So we could view the Pelog scale as an phrygian scale with a missing notes.

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

|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|b7|--|-1|
|-5|--|--|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|
|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|
|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|b7|
|--|--|-5|--|--|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|
|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|--|--|b7|--|-1|

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

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|-5-|---|---|b7-|
|b3-|---|---|---|
|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|-5-|---|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|

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

|---|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|-5-|---|---|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|---|

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

|---|---|---|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|---|-5-|---|

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

|-5-|---|---|b7-|
|-2-|b3-|---|---|
|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|---|---|-5-|---|
|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|-5-|---|---|b7-|

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

|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|---|-5-|---|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|b7-|---|-1-|b2-|

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-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|---|---|---|

seperated by a M3

|---|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|---|---|---|---|

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

We can create "pelog" progressions. Doing so will give us a framework to analyze songs, and find good opportunities to employ the pelog scale. it's also good practice for songwriting, etc.

We see above the following chords for pelog:
in triads: i-bIIsus#4(6)-bIII-vo-bvii#5
in 7th chords: i7-bIImaj7sus#4(6)-bIII7-vo-bvii#5
in 9th chords: i7b9-bIImaj9sus#4(6)-bIII7-vo-bvii#5add9
in 11th chords: i7b9-bIImaj9sus#4(6)-bIII7-voadd11-bvii#5add9/11
in 13th chords: i7b9-bIImaj9sus#4(6)-bIII6/7-voadd11b13-bvii#5add9/11

So we could take any of the chords in the above paragraph and create a Pelog progression out of it. We really should include some type of I chord (i, i7, i7b9, etc.) and it should be the predominant chord in our progression, with a feeling of resolution when we come back to it.

Take a minute to compare and contrast the chords from the pelog, and balinese scales.
Pelog = i-bIIsus#4(6)-bIII-vo-bvii#5
Balinese = i-bII5-bIIIsus2(4)-Vsus4b5-bVI

They share the following chords (triads) in common: i,bIII5,Vb5(no3).
Creating a progression using only these chords would be slightly ambiguous, and could be interpreted as either pelog or balinese. In fact, such a progression would be a good one to record (or have a friend play) and solo over to uderstand the subtle differences between pelog and balinese (try switching from i-pelog to i-balinese and back, etc. over such a progression and see what different moods are created).

If on the other hand, you want to create a progression that has a more pelog character, you should include at least one of the other chords not found in balinese.

Where/when does one usually decide to use pelog?
- you could use it over the ib6 chord in the minor scale/key context (play i-pelog over ib6)
- over several chords that fit within a pelog context (see above chords for pelog).
ex. over Am-C-Eo (i-bIII-Vo) you could play A-pelog.
- over a related modal progression, use the relative pelog scale.
- I've used it as a substitution for phrygian, specifically in metal music.

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 pelog scale (see lessons from May 24th, june 7th, july 5th, and august 2nd). We take a brief look at the modes of the Pelog 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 Pelog 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 Pelog

Pelog = 1/2-W-M3-m3-W = 1,b2,b3,5,b7
= W-M3-m3-W-1/2 = 1,2,#4,6,7
= M3-m3-W-1/2-W = 1,3,5,6,b7
= m3-W-1/2-W-M3 = 1,b3,4,b5,b6
= W-1/2-W-M3-m3 = 1,2,b3,4,6

2nd mode of Pelog scale
has the step pattern W-M3-m3-W-1/2
and the intervals 1,2,#4,6,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
Isus#4(6)-II-#ivo-vi#5-vii

2nd mode of the Pelog scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|#4-|---|---|-6-|---|
|-2-|---|---|---|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|---|#4-|---|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|

2nd mode of the Pelog scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|#4-|---|---|-6-|---|
|---|-2-|---|---|---|
|-6-|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|---|#4-|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|#4-|---|---|-6-|---|

3rd mode of Pelog scale
has the step pattern M3-m3-W-1/2-W
and the intervals 1,3,5,6,b7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
I-iiio-v#5-vi-bVIIsus#4(6)

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

|---|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|
|---|---|-3-|---|---|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|---|

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

|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|
|---|---|---|-3-|---|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|

4th mode of Pelog scale
has the step pattern m3-W-1/2-W-M3
and the intervals 1,b3,4,b5,b6.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
io-biii#5-iv-bVsus#4(6)-bVI

4th mode of the Pelog scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|---|---|b3-|
|---|b6-|---|---|
|b3-|---|-4-|b5-|
|---|---|-1-|---|
|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|-1-|---|---|b3-|

4th mode of the Pelog scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|b3-|---|-4-|
|---|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|---|-1-|---|---|b3-|
|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|

5th mode of Pelog scale
has the step pattern W-1/2-W-M3-m3
and the intervals 1,2,b3,4,6.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
i#5-ii-bIIIsus#4(6)-bIV-vio

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

|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|---|---|-6-|---|
|-2-|b3-|---|-4-|---|
|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|

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

|---|---|---|-6-|---|
|---|-2-|b3-|---|-4-|
|-6-|---|---|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|b3-|
|---|---|---|-6-|---|

Having looked at Pelog the way that we would any other scale, it should be pointed out that the name of a tuning system used in javanese Gamelan Music. Pelog is a system that splits the ocatve into 7 tones, from which pentatonic scales/modes are created. Javanese music also uses another tuning system called slendro, which splits the octave into 5 tones. Gamelan orchestras are huge because they generally carry instruments for both tuning systems, when playing in pelog they will play one set of instruments, but when playing in slendro they will play a different set of instruments.

Consider another similar pentatonic scale, the Balinese scale.

Balinese scale

Balinese = 1/2-W-M3-1/2-M3 = 1,b2,b3,5,b6
= W-M3-1/2-M3-1/2 = 1,2,#4,5,7
= M3-1/2-M3-1/2-W = 1,3,4,6,b7
= 1/2-M3-1/2-W-M3 = 1,b2,4,b5,b6
= M3-1/2-W-M3-1/2 = 1,3,4,5,7

From either Balinese = 1/2-W-M3-1/2-M3, or E-Balinese = E-F-G-B-C-E we can find the intervals (from the root note) to be 1,b2,b3,5,b6.

Looking at the numbers, we can deduce that the balinese 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 phrygian scale. The phrygian mode has the intervals 1,b2,b3,4,5,b6,b7; and the Balinese scale has the intervals 1,b2,b3,5,b6. So we could view the Balinese scale as an phrygian scale with a missing notes.

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

|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|
|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|
|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|b2|--|b3|
|b7|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|
|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|
|-1|b2|--|b3|--|--|--|-5|b6|--|--|--|-1|

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

|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|

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

|---|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|-5-|b6-|---|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|---|

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

|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|

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

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

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

|---|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|
|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|b2-|

two adjacent strings:
Seperated by a P4

|---|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|-1-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|---|---|---|

seperated by a M3

|---|---|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|---|-1-|
|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|---|---|---|---|---|

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)

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

We can create "balinese" progressions. Doing so will give us a framework to analyze songs, and find good opportunities to employ the pelog scale. it's also good practice for songwriting, etc.

We see above the following chords for balinese:
in triads: i-bII5-bIIIsus2(4)-vosus4-bVI
in 7th chords: i-bIImaj7(no3)-bIII7sus2(4)-vosus4-bVImaj7
in 9th chords: iaddb9-bIImaj7sus2-bIII7sus2(4)-vosus4b9-bVImaj7
in 11th chords: iaddb9-bIImaj7#11sus2-bIII7sus2(4)-vosus4b9-bVImaj7/11
in 13th chords: iaddb9/b13-bIImaj7#11sus2-bIII6/7sus2(4)-vosus4b9b13-bVImaj7/11

So we could take any of the chords in the above paragraph and create a Balinese progression out of it. We really should include some type of I chord (i, iaddb9, etc.) and it should be the predominant chord in our progression, with a feeling of resolution when we come back to it.

Take a minute to compare and contrast the chords from the pelog, and balinese scales.
Pelog = i-bIIsus#4(6)-bIII-vo-bvii#5
Balinese = i-bII5-bIIIsus2(4)-Vsus4b5-bVI

They share the following chords (triads) in common: i,bIII5,Vb5(no3).
Creating a progression using only these chords would be slightly ambiguous, and could be interpreted as either pelog or balinese. In fact, such a progression would be a good one to record (or have a friend play) and solo over to uderstand the subtle differences between pelog and balinese (try switching from i-pelog to i-balinese and back, etc. over such a progression and see what different moods are created).

If on the other hand, you want to create a progression that has a more balinese character, you should include at least one of the other chords not found in pelog.

Where/when does one usually decide to use balinese?
- you could use it over the iaddb9 chord in the minor scale/key context (play i-balinese over iaddb9)
- over several chords that fit within a balinese context (see above chords for balinese). ex. over Am-C-Eo (i-bII5-bVI) you could play A-balinese.
- over a related modal progression, use the relative balinese scale.
- you could use it as a substitution for phrygian.

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 balinese scale (see lessons from May 24th, june 7th, july 5th, and august 2nd). We take a brief look at the modes of the Balinese 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 Balinese 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 Balinese

Balinese = 1/2-W-M3-1/2-M3 = 1,b2,b3,5,b6
= W-M3-1/2-M3-1/2 = 1,2,#4,5,7
= M3-1/2-M3-1/2-W = 1,3,4,6,b7
= 1/2-M3-1/2-W-M3 = 1,b2,4,b5,b6
= M3-1/2-W-M3-1/2 = 1,3,4,5,7

2nd mode of Balinese scale
has the step pattern W-M3-1/2-M3-1/2
and the intervals 1,2,#4,5,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
I5-IIsus2(4)-#ivosus4-V-vii

2nd mode of the Balinese scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|
|-2-|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|

2nd mode of the Balinese scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|
|---|-2-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|---|#4-|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|

3rd mode of Balinese scale
has the step pattern M3-1/2-M3-1/2-W
and the intervals 1,3,4,6,b7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
Isus2(4)-iiiosus4-IV-vi-bVII5

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

|---|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-6-|b7-|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|---|

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

|---|---|---|-6-|b7-|
|---|---|---|-3-|-4-|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|---|
|---|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|b7-|

4th mode of Balinese scale
has the step pattern 1/2-M3-1/2-W-M3
and the intervals 1,b2,4,b5,b6.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
iosus4-bII-iv-bV-5bVIsus2(4)

4th mode of the Balinese scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|---|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|-4-|b5-|
|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|---|

4th mode of the Balinese scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|-4-|
|---|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|---|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|

5th mode of Balinese scale
has the step pattern M3-1/2-W-M3-1/2
and the intervals 1,3,4,5,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
I-iii-IV5-Vsus2(4)-viiosus4

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

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

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

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

Next lesson is on the Modal families of scales.

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 July 22, 2004
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