Greek Scales

These tables are a companion to the handout we got at Lark.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.

Major Scales

Page Name Value Base Chords Notes of the scale
8
Hijaz Highest
I, iv, vii
1  2  .  .  3  4  .  5  6  .  7  .  8
G Ab . . B C . D Eb . F . G
9
Hijazskiar Highest
I, II, iv 
1  2  .  .  3  4  .  5  6  .  .  7  8
G Ab . . B C . D Eb . . F# G
11
Houzam High
I, IV, V 
1  .  .  2  3  4  .  5  6  .  .  7  8
12
--- (for bouzouki) Lowest
--- 
1  2  .  .  3  .  4  5  6  .  .  7  8
13
Major High
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:

Minor Scales

Page Name Value Base Chords Notes of the scale
18
Diatonic Minor High
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 Minor High
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
Souzinak Low
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
Sabach High
i, IVaug, VII 
1  .  2  3  4  .  .  5  6  .  7  .  8
27
Ousak Highest
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:

Chord Notation Used in the Handout

Chords are indicated using RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-SI-DO, where:

  • RE is the root note, and other notes ascend through the major 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

Send comments, corrections, and additions to Eric at TreeLight Music

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