Gypsy Major

Setting a mood for someplace not in the West

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Le Mystique

Gypsy major is a scale I have used myself without being aware of a name. As is true of Gypsy minor, this scale has an exotic, romantic flavor for listeners accustomed to more typical Western scales. I have used myself without being aware of its name. What is important is how we form the scale.

It has a sound that reminds me of the Middle East, Israel, and maybe India. It’s a general feeling. What is important is how we form the scale. Any mode or altered mode that uses 3 for the 3rd note is generally called major. So we need to look at major scales and see what changes to get this “Gypsy major” scale. The answer: change 2 to b2 and 6 to b6.

Gypsy major is also known as the Bhairav Raag, the Byzantine scale, and Arabic major  because of the long stretchs between b2 and 3, and between b6 and maj7. The form is always 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7 8, so Ionian with two alterations.

There are 5 variations of “Le Mystique”. The 5th is as I would write it for myself, without clues or help.

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