Whole-tone scale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The scale is also used extensively in modern jazz writing. Wayne Shorter's composition “JuJu” features heavy use of the whole-tone scale, and John Coltrane's One Down, One Up is built off two augmented chords arranged in the same simple structure as his earlier tune Impressions.

However, these are only the most overt examples of the use of this scale in jazz. A vast number of jazz tunes, including many standards, use augmented chords and their corresponding scales as well, usually to create tension in turnarounds or as a substitute for a dominant seventh chord. Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk are two pianists who used the whole-tone scale extensively and creatively.

A whole-tone scale is a symmetrical scale comprised of whole-step intervals only, i.e. each note in the scale is separated by two semitones. Thus there's six notes to the octave in a whole-tone scale, Really an inspiration to try, creating an dreamy augmented sound.

The whole tone scale is constructed from whole notes. There's six whole notes to the cromatic scale. Thus the whole tone scale is a six note scale, each note separated by two semitones, i.e. whole step intervals. Since the whole tone scale then uses half of the pitches in the chromatic scale, there is only two whole tone scales.

On the guitar fretboard the pattern of the whole-tone scale is symmetrical, repeating itself all over the fretboard:

The intervals of the Whole Tone Scale: 1, 2, 3, #4 , #5, #6.
Example: F, G, A, B, C#, D#


It's easy to se that there are only two possible whole tone scales. Another strange thing is that there are just four of the agumented chords that is derived from the whole-tone scale,

See also



  • Modern Whole Tone Concept by Jay Umble. “Traditionally, the whole tone scale is confined to dominant 7b5 and dominant 7#5 chords. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how the whole tone scale can be used with minor tonalities…”