Middle-Eastern-/Egyptian- Sounding Scale...A Foreign Key Signature?

February 24, 2006 at 05:47 AM · I've been wondereing lately...

I'm playing Nardis in jazz band...and the key doesn't match the key signature...

The scale runs as E-F-G#-A-B-C-D#-E...but the key signature is a regular E minor...the key signature just doesn't match the key at all...

Bacchanale by Saint-Sa�ns does the same thing in the opening (oboe?) solo...in a different key

its scale runs as A-Bb-C-D#-E-F-G#-A...

If a whole song, such as Nardis, is in this key, does this qualify it for a new kind of key signature, say, one with only G# and D#? It's definitely not a standard key, but it appears often in music relating to Egypt or the Mid-East.

This foreign key is driving me crazy thinking about whether it exists...it's really simple to improv in, though...for a violinist...I can't say the same for the saxes and brass!

Replies (8)

February 24, 2006 at 02:15 PM · That was supposed to say Saint-Saëns, not whatever that mess is...

February 24, 2006 at 06:45 PM · What gets me is that even though Nardis is played in Egyptian-sounding E, the key signature is your typical E minor and the composer wrote out would-be-unnecessary naturals and sharps all over the place.

February 24, 2006 at 09:13 PM · I know the tune nardis very well

e phyrigian sounds really good over that progression - the major 3rd is your optional accidental note, may want to try f lydian minor also

proof > consider the first 2 chords e min to f maj7#11 (this f chord implies lydian tonality)

February 24, 2006 at 09:04 PM · Would you mind defining the minor keys...it's been a while since my last music theory lesson in orchestra class...

February 24, 2006 at 09:42 PM · Looks to me like it's just a scale based on an F MM7 chord with leading tones into each note of the chord. Are there a lot of MM7th chords in the tune? If so the other notes are possibly just embellishments of this chord.

February 24, 2006 at 10:09 PM · Ive been playing Nardis by miles davis for 10 years here are some scales I use

E phyrigian

e f g a b c d

E phyrigian major

e f g# a b c d

F lydian minor

f g g# b c d e

E blues

e g a a# b d

D melodic minor

d e f g a b c# d

February 28, 2006 at 03:35 PM · Marty, you asked about chords: I don't know how to read them, but here they are (I left out the solo section, etc, because it's the same):

Head: Emi7 Fma7 B13 Cma7(#11) Ami9 Fma7 (to coda)E F/E Emi11 (repeat)

Bridge: Ami9 Fma7(#11) Ami9 Fma7(#11) Dmi9 G13 Cma9 Fma7(#11) (d.c. al coda)

Coda: E F/E Emi E F/E Cma9 E F/E Emi

Scott, none of those sound like what I'm using:

E F G# A Bb C D# E

I'm just gonna call it Egyptian e minor

and I'll call this:

E F# G# A B C# D# E

E Major

My version of the song is arranged by Frank Mantooth and has no key signature (as opposed to whatever key signature I said it had before) but is obviously in this Egyptian e minor key I just spoke of...I'm stealing that oboe part from Bacchanale for the first half of my solo, cuz my director thinks it sounds awesome like that, and he doesn't know Bacchanale anyway.

February 28, 2006 at 04:57 PM · the point im trying to make is the tune is basically modal resolving to c major - no sharps or flats

alot of jazz musicians use altered scales, im giving you an idea of scales you can use, the scale you are referring to is another altered scale

there are a few more i didnt mention

f lydian augmented

f g g# b c# d# e

e half whole symmetrical

e f g g# a# b c# d

e whole tone

e f# g# a# c d

e super locrian (f melodic minor)

e f g g# a# c d

and of course the usual modes related to e phyrigian

a natural minor

a b c d e f g

d dorian

d e f g a b c

g mixolydian

g a b c d e f

c maj

c d e f a b c

also a blues scale in a works well with the b section

you will notice the tunrnaround has a modal 2-5 -1 progression leading to c maj

this is what I love about miles davis, his ability to make altered scales sound musical

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