How Music Works
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Scales and Melody

Scales and Melody

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(4.9)  Spanish Scale

The Spanish scale is another example of the wonderful exotic sounds which can be created using non-western musical structures.  This scale is also commonly referred to as the Jewish scale.  

The reason for the two names is that it evolved within the musical culture of Sephardi Jews in Spain, until their expulsion in the 15th century.  It has continued to influence the music of Mediterranean cultures since then.

A well known example of the Spanish scale in use is the Jewish folk song Hava Nagila, meaning 'let us rejoice'.

An important feature of the Spanish scale is the heavy use of minor second (one semitone) intervals between adjacent notes.  There are three of these, including between the root note and the b2 degree.

This little step, big step, little step configuration is also often found in Arabic and Eastern European scales, and it contributes greatly to the Middle Eastern flavour of music from these regions.

 

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