2. Into the whole tone zone

One of my favourite scales is the whole tone zone. The name pretty much says it all; it’s a scale using only whole note, or whole step, intervals. This means that there are only two whole tone scales, one involving the notes C D E F# G# and A# and one involving the notes C# D# F G A and B. This should come as no surprise, there are only twelve half steps in an octave, and so two scales of six notes should cover them all. Because the intervals are all the same it’s not important where the scale begins or ends, because when you look at it, it doesn’t really begins or ends somewhere. When you start introducing this scale to your own riff vocabulary you’ll find that it sounds very exotic and has a sort of Zappaesque feel to it.

The riff below starts at C and ends at C two octaves higher. It’s actually just a scale played in ascending groups of four notes. Although the layout is very easy to visualize, make sure that you’re aware that the switch between the G and the B strings is somewhat different than the other string switches.

E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D --------------------------------------------------------------------------10------------10---12--------10---12---14---10-----
A ----------------9------------9---11-------9---11---13---9---11---13-----11---13--------------13---------------------------
E -8---10---12-----10---12-----------12------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------12---------
B ----------------------------------------------------------------------------13--------------13---15-------13---15--------------
G ------------11------------11---13-------11---13---15---11---13---15-------13---15-------------15------------------------
D -12---14-------12---14------------14-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

E -----------12---14-------12---14---16---12---14---16---18---14---16---18---20------------------------------------------
B -13---15------------15-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------