Gypsy scale

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Gypsy scale is the colloquial umbrella term for scales in folk and classical music that are characterized by two excessive second steps . Analogous to the key types major and minor, a distinction is made between Gypsy major and Gypsy minor .

The term is derived from the fact that these scales are used in the music of the Roma and Sinti , among others . In western music they were made famous especially through Franz Liszt ( Hungarian Rhapsodies ). You can also find them in Spanish flamenco . The problem with the naming is that the gypsy scales are on the one hand not an exclusive feature of the music of the Roma and Sinti, on the other hand they do not represent a unifying element of the music of this ethnic group, whose culture is always shaped by the regional traditions of the living environment.

Gypsy minor

c gypsy minor;
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The Gypsy minor scale, also called the Hungarian scale , is a variant of the minor scale and corresponds to the harmonic minor with a raised fourth level. This creates a second hiatus ( excessive second ) between the third and fourth degree, which - similar to the harmonic minor - creates a special oriental tone.

Georges Bizet uses both the gypsy minor and the gypsy major for the “fate motif” in his opera Carmen , which depicts the fate of a gypsy woman.

Gypsy major

C Gypsy Major; Audio sample ? / iAudio file / audio sample

The Gipsy Major - scale , even Arabic scale called, is a heptatonic scale which inspired by oriental sound characteristics. Like the Gypsy minor , it is typical of the music of the Eastern European Sinti and Roma .

The Gypsy major can be understood as the plagal form of the Gypsy minor (starting at the 5th degree).

It is constructed symmetrically and has a major third.

The scale can be formed by increasing the seventh degree of the Phrygian dominant scale by a semitone. As with the classic major scale, this creates a leading tone .

Another way of forming a gypsy major is to decrease the second and sixth degrees of the major scale by a semitone.

Structure from tetrachords

Franz Liszt , who had also dealt intensively with music theory in ancient Greece , derives the gypsy tones “... from the ancient Greek 'chromatic tetrachord '. The latter consists of a minor third and two successive semitone steps. The minor third agrees with the sound of the excessive second, with a tone interval that Western European theory only needs because in the fiction of the scale (ie scale) no step may be skipped. ”If you set the minor third with the excessive Second (hiatus) equal, this is how the construction of the gypsy scales can be explained with the help of tetrachords with the structure semitone-hiatus-semitone :

  • The C-Gypsy major consists of the two unconnected (= separated by a whole tone) tetrachords c-d-ef and g-a -flat -hc .
  • The C Gypsy minor consists of the two tetrachords d-es-f sharp-g and g-a-flat-bc , connected by a common tone , the scale being completed by a c added below .

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Web links

Individual evidence

  1. István Szelényi: The Unknown Liszt . In: Klara Hamburger (Ed.): Franz Liszt - Contributions by Hungarian authors . Reclam, Leipzig 1978, ISBN 963-13-0088-9 , p. 276 .