Greek Scales and Accompaniment

These tables are a companion to the handout Georgios Leftheriotis gave us at the Lark in the Morning music and dance camp.They should be useful on their own, as well. They show the names of the scales and the relative importance of each with respect to traditional Greek music (shown as value), in the tables).

Major Scales

PageNameValueBase ChordsNotes of the scale

8
HijazHighest

I, iv, vii
1  2  .  .  3  4  .  5  6  .  7  .  8
G  Ab .  .  B  C  .  D  Eb .  F  .  G

9
HijazskiarHighest

I, II, iv
1  2  .  .  3  4  .  5  6  .  .  7  8
G  Ab .  .  B  C  .  D  Eb .  .  F# G

11
HouzamHigh

I, IV, V
1  .  .  2  3  4  .  5  6  .  .  7  8

12
— (for bouzouki)Lowest

---
1  2  .  .  3  .  4  5  6  .  .  7  8

13
MajorHigh

I, IV, V
1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6  .  7  8
C     D     E  F     G     A     B  C
D     E     F# G     A     B     C# D
Bb    C     D  Eb    F     G     A  Bb

14
Sengah (uncommon)Low

I, iv, V/Vaug/V7
1  .  .  2  3  4  .  5  6  .  .  7  8

16
Rast (up)Medium

I, IV#dim, V/V7
1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6  .  7  8

17
Rast (down)Medium

I, II, iv, V
1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6  7  .  8

The page numbers refer to the handout. The name of the chord is phonetic — its what you hear when Georgios calls out the scale (Georgios provided the spellings, so they should be written similarly elsewhere). The value indicates the frequency of use. (“Importance” is a better title, but I needed a shorter word.) The base chords are the ones that generally form the basic structure of the tune. They are shown here using uppercase roman lettering (IV) for major chords, and lowercase roman for minor chords (iv). The handout lists many substitutions, as well. See below for an explanation of the symbols on the handout.

Notes:

  • Hijazskiar is the same as Hijaz, except for having a major 7th instead of a minor 7th.
  • The notes in the Houzam scale are the same as those in the Sengah scale. The difference is in the chords that are used for accompaniement. In particular, the IV chord is major in Houzam, but iv (minor) in Sengah.
  • Rast is a major version of the melodic minor. It uses a major 7th going up, but a minor 7th coming down.

Minor Scales

PageNameUsageBase ChordsNotes of the scale

18
Diatonic MinorHigh

i, iv, v
1  .  2  3  .  4  .  5  6  .  7  .  8
C     D  Eb    F     G  Ab    Bb    C
F     G  Ab    Bb    C  Db    Eb    F

19
Harmonic MinorHigh

i, iv, v
1  .  2  3  .  4  .  5  6  .  .  7  8

20
Melodic Minor (up)High

i, iv, v
1  .  2  3  .  4  .  5  .  6  .  7  8

21
Melodic Minor (down)High

i, iv, v
1  .  2  3  .  4  .  5  6  .  7  .  8

22
SouzinakLow

I, IVdim, VII
1  .  2  3  .  .  4  5  .  6  7  .  8

23
Niaventi (difficult, beautiful, good to know.)High

I, IV, V 
(see handout
for IV/V
variations)
1  .  2  3  .  .  4  5  6  .  .  7  8

24
Kiourdi (up)High

i, iii, VII
1  .  2  3  .  4  5  .  .  6  7  .  8

25
Kiourdi (down)High

i, iv, v
1  .  2  3  .  4  .  5  6  .  7  .  8

26
SabachHigh

i, IVaug, VII
1  .  2  3  4  .  .  5  6  .  7  .  8

27
OusakHighest

i, iv, vii
1  2  .  3  .  4  .  5  6  .  7  .  8
C  Db    Eb    F     G  Ab    Bb    C
G  Ab    Bb    C     D  Eb    F     G

Notes:

  • Some of the scales are considered major, others minor, depending on whether the major 3rd is present in the scale. For example, in Hijaz and Hijazskiar, the classical “major 3rd” (B) is present in the scale. The Ousak scale, on the other hand is a minor scale. (When Georgios calls out a scale, he’ll say “G Hijaz” or “G Minor Ousak”.)
  • Ousak (the most important minor) is the same as the diatonic (western) minor, except for having a flatted 2nd. It is also the same as the Hijaz scale (the most important major), except for having a flatted 3rd, as compared to that scale.

Chord Notations

Chords are indicated Solfege notation in the handout, with the notes RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-SI-DO, where:

  • RE is the root note, and other notes ascend through the scale.
  • Plus (+) indicates a major chord.
  • Minus (-) indicates a minor chord.
  • A flat (b) or sharp (#) before a note shows how that note compares to the major scale.
    For example, MI is a major 2nd (a whole step) from RE. So bMI indicates a minor second (a half step).
  • Other notation is fairly standard. E.g. “dim” = diminished, “aug” = augmented

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  1. Greek Scales | Treelight.com April 21, 2017 (9:02 pm)

    […] I am indebted to Georgios Leftheriotis for introducing me to these scales. For more, see Greek Scales and Accompaniement. […]

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