Persian 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 Persian = 1/2-m3-1/2-1/2-W-m3-1/2, or C-Persian = C-Db-E-F-Gb-Ab-B-C we can find the intervals (from the root note) to be 1,b2,3,4,b5,b6,7.

Looking at the numbers, we can deduce that the Persian scale is a majorb5 scale. That is, it contains the notes 1,3,b5.

We also note that it is similar to THE oriental scale. The oriental scale has the intervals 1,b2,3,4,b5,6,b7; and the Persian scale has the intervals 1,b2,3,4,b5,b6,7. So we could view the Persian scale as an Oriental scale with a major seventh ( a major seventh in place of a minor seventh) and a minor sixth (minor sixth in place of a major sixth). If you already know the Oriental scale, then you could play those patterns , replacing the b7 with the 7, and the 6 with the b6. This idea of thinking of one scale as being another scale with altered notes (e.g. ionianb7, lydianb7, etc.) or with missing notes (e.g. pentatonic major, etc.) occurs from time to time, and may give some perspective/context/comfort in learning new scales.

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

|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|b5|--|b6|--|--|-7|-1|
|--|b6|--|--|-7|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|b5|--|
|--|-3|-4|b5|--|b6|--|--|-7|-1|b2|--|--|
|--|-7|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|b5|--|b6|--|--|
|-4|b5|--|b6|--|--|-7|-1|b2|--|--|-3|--|
|-1|b2|--|--|-3|-4|b5|--|b6|--|--|-7|-1|

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

|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|b2-|
|---|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|---|

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

|---|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|
|---|---|---|-7-|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|---|
|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|---|---|
|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|

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

|-3-|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|---|b6-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|b5-|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|

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

|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|---|-3-|-4-|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|---|
|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|

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

|---|---|-7-|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|-4-|b5-|---|b6-|
|-1-|b2-|---|---|---|
|---|b6-|---|---|-7-|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|b5-|
|---|---|-7-|-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

|---|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|-7-|-1-|
|-1-|b2-|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|---|

seperated by a M3

|---|---|b5-|---|b6-|---|---|-7-|-1-|
|-1-|b2-|---|---|-3-|-4-|---|---|---|

We found for the major scale (ionian mode) The following triads:
I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viio
and for the minor scale
i-iio-bIII-iv-v-bVI-bVII

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

We see above the following chords for Persian:
in triads: Ib5-bII-IIIsus2-iv-bVsus4-bVI+-viiosus2
in 7th chords: Imaj7b5-bIImaj7-III6sus2-ivmaj7-bVmaj7sus4-bVI7+5-vii6b5sus2
in 9th chords: Imaj7b9b5-bIImaj7#9-III6b9sus2-ivmaj7b9-bVmaj9sus4-bVI7#9#5-vii6b9b5sus2
in 11th chords: Imaj11b9b5-bIImaj11#9-III6b9add9-ivmaj7#11b9-bVmaj9#11sus4-bVI11#9#5-vii6b9b5sus2/11
in 13th chords: Imaj11b13b9b5-bIImaj11#13#9-III6b13b9add9-ivmaj7b13#11b9-bVmaj9#13#11sus4-bVI13#9#5-vii6b9sus2/11#11

So we could take any of the chords in the above paragraph and create a Persian progression out of it. We really should include some type of I chord (Ib5, Imaj7b5, Imaj7b9b5, Imaj7b5sus4, 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 Persian, and Oriental scales.
Persian = Ib5-bII-IIIsus2-iv-bVsus4-bVI+-viiosus2
Oriental = Ib5-bII+-iiiosus2-IV-bV-vi-bvii

They share the following chords (triads) in common: Ib5,IV5,bV5.
Creating a progression using only these chords would be slightly ambiguous, and could be interpreted as either persian or oriental. 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 persian and oriental (try switching from I-persian to I-Oriental 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 Persian character, you should include at least one other chord not found in oriental.

Where/when does one usually decide to use Persian?
- some would use it over the Ib5 chord in the minor scale/key context (play I-Persian over Imaj7b5)
- over several chords that fit within a gypsy minor context (see above chords for harmonic minor). ex. over Amaj7b5-Bb-Dm (Ib5-bII-iv) you could play A-Persian.
- over a related modal progression, use the relative Persian 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 persian scale (see lessons from May 24th, june 7th, july 5th, and august 2nd). We take a brief look at the modes of the Persian 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 Persian 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 Persian Scale

Persian = 1/2-m3-1/2-1/2-W-m3-1/2 = 1,b2,3,4,b5,b6,7
= m3-1/2-1/2-W-m3-1/2-1/2 = 1,#2,3,4,5,#6,7
= 1/2-1/2-W-m3-1/2-1/2-m3 = 1,b2,2,3,5,b6,bb7
= 1/2-W-m3-1/2-1/2-m3-1/2 = 1,b2,b3,b5,5,b6,7
= W-m3-1/2-1/2-m3-1/2-1/2 = 1,2,4,b5,5,b7,7
= m3-1/2-1/2-m3-1/2-1/2-W = 1,#2,3,4,#5,6,b7
= 1/2-1/2-m3-1/2-1/2-W-m3 = 1,b2,2,4,b5,5,6

2nd mode of Persian scale
has the step pattern m3-1/2-1/2-W-m3-1/2-1/2
and the intervals 1,#2,3,4,5,#6,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
I-#IIsus2-iii-IVsus4-V+-#viosus2-VIIb5

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

|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|
|---|-5-|---|---|#6-|
|---|#2-|-3-|-4-|---|
|---|#6-|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|

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

|---|-5-|---|---|#6-|
|---|---|#2-|-3-|-4-|
|---|#6-|-7-|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|---|#2-|
|---|-5-|---|---|#6-|

3rd mode of Persian scale
has the step pattern 1/2-1/2-W-m3-1/2-1/2-m3
and the intervals 1,b2,2,3,5,b6,bb7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
Isus2-bii-IIsus4-III+-vosus2-bVIb5-bVII

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

|---|-1-|b2-|-2-|---|
|---|-5-|b6-|bb7|---|
|-2-|---|-3-|---|---|
|bb7|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|b2-|-2-|---|

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

|---|-5-|b6-|bb7|---|
|---|-2-|---|-3-|---|
|bb7|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|b6-|
|---|-1-|b2-|-2-|---|
|---|-5-|b6-|bb7|---|

4th mode of Persian scale
has the step pattern 1/2-W-m3-1/2-1/2-m3-1/2
and the intervals 1,b2,b3,b5,5,b6,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
i-bIIsus4-bIII+-bvosus2-Vb5-bVI-VIIsus2

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

|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|---|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|---|b5-|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|b5-|-5-|b6-|
|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|

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

|b5-|-5-|b6-|---|---|
|---|---|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-7-|-1-|b2-|
|---|---|b5-|-5-|b6-|
|-7-|-1-|b2-|---|b3-|
|b5-|-5-|b6-|---|---|

5th mode of Persian scale
has the step pattern W-m3-1/2-1/2-m3-1/2-1/2
and the intervals 1,2,4,b5,5,b7,7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
Isus4-II+-ivosus2-bVb5-V-bVIIsus2-vii

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

|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|
|-2-|---|---|-4-|b5-|
|---|b7-|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|b5-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|

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

|b5-|-5-|---|---|b7-|
|---|-2-|---|---|-4-|
|---|b7-|-7-|-1-|---|
|---|-4-|b5-|-5-|---|
|-7-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
|b5-|-5-|---|---|b7-|

6th mode of Persian scale
has the step pattern m3-1/2-1/2-m3-1/2-1/2-W
and the intervals 1,#2,3,4,#5,6,b7.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
I+-#iiosus2-IIIb5-IV-#Vsus2-vi-bVIIsus4

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

|---|-1-|---|---|#2-|
|---|---|#5-|-6-|b7-|
|---|#2-|-3-|-4-|---|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|#5-|
|---|-1-|---|---|#2-|

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

|---|---|#5-|-6-|b7-|
|---|---|#2-|-3-|-4-|
|-6-|b7-|---|-1-|---|
|-3-|-4-|---|---|#5-|
|---|-1-|---|---|#2-|
|---|---|#5-|-6-|b7-|

7th mode of Persian scale
has the step pattern 1/2-1/2-m3-1/2-1/2-W-m3
and the intervals 1,b2,2,4,b5,5,6.
can be harmonized to give the following triads:
iosus2-bIIb5-II-IVsus2-bv-Vsus4-VI+

7th mode of the Persian scale "E-shape" (root note on the 6th string)

|---|-1-|b2-|-2-|---|
|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|
|-2-|---|---|-4-|b5-|
|-6-|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|-4-|b5-|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|b2-|-2-|---|

7th mode of the Persian scale "A-shape" (root note on the 5th string)

|b5-|-5-|---|-6-|---|
|---|-2-|---|---|-4-|
|-6-|---|---|-1-|b2-|
|---|-4-|b5-|-5-|---|
|---|-1-|b2-|-2-|---|
|b5-|-5-|---|-6-|---|

Next lesson is on the Bop 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 April 29, 2004
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