Hungarian minor scale

Hungarian Minor scale on C.[1]  Play 

The Hungarian Minor scale,[2][3][4][5][6] Double Harmonic minor scale,[7] or Gypsy minor scale,[4][8] is a type of combined musical scale. It is the fourth mode of the double harmonic scale. It is the same as the harmonic minor scale, except that it has a raised fourth scale degree.[2][3][4][6][7][8] Its tonal center is slightly ambiguous, due to the large number of half steps. Also known as Double Harmonic Minor, or Harmonic Minor 4, it figures prominently in Eastern European music, particularly in Romani music. Melodies based on this scale have an exotic, romantic flavor for listeners accustomed to more typical Western scales.

A clear way to see this is the Hungarian Minor scale in the key of B. The notes in this scale would be B C♯ D E♯ F♯ G A♯ B. In this example the E♯ is the raised 4th and the A♯ is the raised 7th.

Its step pattern is w - h - + - h - h - + - h, where w indicates a whole step, h indicates a half step, and + indicates an augmented second, which is played as a minor third on a keyboard but is notionally distinct. It may be seen that the scale contains two augmented seconds,[5] one in each tetrachord.[1] Intriguingly, this scale (and its modes like the double harmonic scale) is the only seven-note subset of the equally tempered chromatic scale that is perfectly balanced; this means that when its pitches are represented as points in a circle (whose full circumference represents an octave), their average position (or "centre of mass") is the centre of the circle.[9]

The scale may be used with minor or m+7 chords.[2][6] See: chord-scale system. Chords that may be derived from the B Hungarian Minor scale are Bm, C#75, Daug, F#, G7 and A#m6.[7]

This scale is obtainable from the Arabic scale by starting from the fourth of that scale. Said another way, the C Hungarian minor scale is equivalent to the G Arabic scale.[7]

In Indian classical Carnatic music, it is known as the ragam Simhendramadhyamam.

Notable recordings

The Pink Panther Theme, originally played in the key of E minor, is noted for its quirky, unusual use of chromaticism which is derived from the scale.[10]

Joe Satriani has composed several songs using the Hungarian minor scale ("Musterion"[11]), and film composer Danny Elfman has frequently used it in his soundtrack work. Oli Herbert of the American Melodic Metalcore band All That Remains uses the Hungarian minor scale in his playing ("Become the Catalyst"[12]).

In Enix's video game Illusion of Gaia, the flute melody found in the Inca Ruins uses the C Hungarian minor scale (a 4 is used in the second phrase); this music is also quoted in the music of the Larai Cliff stage, transposed to D.

See also


  1. "Gypsy" is considered a derogatory term for people who refer to themselves as Roma.


  1. 1 2 Kahan, Sylvia (2009). In Search of New Scales, p.39. ISBN 978-1-58046-305-8. Cites Liszt. Des Bohémians, p.301.
  2. 1 2 3 Christiansen, Mike (2000). Guitar Scale Dictionary, p.14. ISBN 978-0-7866-5222-8.
  3. 1 2 Stetina, Troy (2007). Fretboard Mastery, p.126. ISBN 978-0-7935-9789-5.
  4. 1 2 3 Kent Cleland, Mary Dobrea-Grindahl (2010). Developing Musicianship Through Aural Skills, p.495. ISBN 978-0-415-80244-4
  5. 1 2 Carlos Agon, Emmanuel Amiot, Moreno Andreatta, Gérard Assayag, Jean Bresson, John Manderau; eds. (2011). Mathematics and Computation in Music, p.89. ISBN 978-3-642-21589-6. "'gypsy'[sic] (or 'Hungarian minor') scale."
  6. 1 2 3 Christiansen, Mike (2003). Complete Guitar Scale Dictionary, p.16. ISBN 978-0-7866-6994-3.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Podolsky, Joshua Craig (2010). Advanced Lead Guitar Concepts, p.111. ISBN 978-0-7866-8236-2. Also "Gypsy scale".
  8. 1 2 Hanson, Paul and Stang, Aaron (1996). Shred Guitar, p.114. ISBN 978-1-57623-604-8.
  9. Milne, A.J., Bulger, D., Herff, S.A. Sethares, W.A. "Perfect balance: A novel principle for the construction of musical scales and meters", Mathematics and Computation in Music (Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 9110, pp. 97–108) Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-20602-8
  10. Silverman, Carol (24 May 2012). Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora. Oxford University Press. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-19-530094-9.
  11. "Hungarian Minor",
  12. "Dissecting Oli Herbert's "Become The Catalyst" - Guitar Lesson",

Recommended reading

External links

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