Exotic guitar scales the Hungarian minor scale and the Hindu scale

Well I think it’s about time that we looked at some exotic guitar scales here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. In this guitar lesson you’re getting two for the price of one my 6 string god like friend.

There are certain scales, that in my opinion at least every guitar player should know. These are scales that should be known inside out with zero excuses by as many guitar players as possible. These scales are the minor pentatonic scale, the major pentatonic scale, the major scale, the natural minor scale, the harmonic minor scale and the blues scale.

If you’re a guitar player yourself then you should know these particular scales all over the fretboard off by heart and you should be able to use them without giving it a seconds thought. If you don’t know any of those scales then you should seriously consider going away and learning them before diving deep into a lesson on exotic guitar scales.

The scale galaxy reaches beyond those listed previously. After the guitarist has learned the foundation scales it’s their choice how far into space they want to venture. Many guitar players choose not to venture into any exotic scales which is fine. Some guitarists however relish the idea of expanding their scale vocabulary.

Exotic guitar scales – The Hungarian scale and the Hindu scale

There’s no correct place to start when it comes to learning exotic guitar scales and there’s no order or set path that one has to follow. In this lesson I’m simply going to provide you with two interesting scales that I think you’ll enjoy. These scales, as you can tell from the headings are the Hungarian minor scale and also the Hindu scale.

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Let’s start with the Hungarian minor scale. If you’re already familiar with the harmonic minor scale, this new scale won’t be too much of a problem for you at all. The Hungarian minor scale is exactly the same as the harmonic minor scale but with a raised fourth. Or, compared to the natural minor scale, a raised fourth and a raised seventh.

Here is an image of the seven modes of the Hungarian minor scale in the key of A

Exotic guitar scales – 7 modes of the Hungarian minor scale in the key of A

Not everyone will find a visual representation of a scale as seen above useful. If you’re someone who doesn’t learn by viewing diagrams like the one shown above, you could learn the scale by playing the harmonic minor scale and raising the fourth note. Or you could play the natural minor and raised both the fourth and seventh as described earlier.

The Hungarian minor scale formula

I know some guitar players out there like to use formulas to learn things. The formula for the Hungarian minor scale is 1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7. That’s the major scale with a flat third, raised fourth and flat sixth. To link this with our earlier example, these formulas mean that the notes of the A Hungarian minor scale are A B C D# E F G#.

Next let’s take a little look at the Hindu scale. This is another scale that’s fairly easy to grasp in terms of theory if you break it down as we did before with the Hungarian minor. The Hindu scale is made by taking the natural minor scale and raising the third degree. Simple.

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Exotic guitar scales – 7 modes of the Hindu scale in the key of A

Once again you can forget the chart if you wish. You could learn the Hindu scale by simply playing the natural harmonic minor scale and raising that third by a semitone. Naturally that would mean that you’d need to know the natural minor scale first.

Hindu scale formula.

Let’s take a look at the Hindu scale formula in the same way as we did earlier with the Hungarian minor scale. The formula for the Hindu scale is 1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7. Exactly the same as the natural minor scale but without the flat third. You could even compare this to the major scale but with a flat sixth and seventh but the natural minor is the simplest comparison. The Hindu scale formula gives us the notes A B C# D E F G in the key of A.

Knowledge is power

Knowing more scales simply give you more options and more sounds to explore while creating your music. Give these two exotic guitar scales a try and if you like the sound of them, learn and memorise them. You may even want to learn them to the same degree as your minor scales and your pentatonic scales. Even just having these scales in the back of your mind could give you another tool to use that can help you make some unique and interesting music.

Experimentation is the key with exotic guitar scales

Learning how the scales are built and how to play them is only the very start of the battle. The real task comes after this one. The real fun starts once you’ve learned how to play the scales with some degree of competence. Once you can play the Hungarian minor scale and the Hindu scale you should start using them.

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Play with them and experiment with them. Find where they work well for you and where they don’t. Find out what these scales say to you. There’s no real correct or incorrect way of going about the experimentation process and I prefer to stay away from the “is it correct” approach. Just remember that if it sounds good then it is good. If it doesn’t sound good then it probably isn’t.

What next?

Do you enjoy developing your guitar playing by learning new scales? If so, you’re in luck. Here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat, there is already a number of guitar lessons on different interesting and exotic scales. You’ve learned two already here but if you’d like to learn more, check out these lessons. 

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