The Secret Saxophone Scale


I originally picked this scale up from listening to Junior Walker recordings. I realized that he was playing it as a set scale over damn near everything.

Subsequently I noticed that many other Sax players seem to use this as one of their preferred scales over Blues and Rock changes.


Play the Em Blues scale without the "B" ( D E G A Bb ) over the entire G Blues progression, you'll find pleasant and useful surprises.

I visualize this scale as "The E half-diminished pentatonic", but (depending on the starting note, and what country you're in) it's also known as:

Han Kumoi
D E G A Bb
Raga Jayakauns
E G A Bb D
Raga Shivranjani
G A Bb D E
Kokin-Joshi / In Sen
A Bb D E G
Raga Hindol / Sunada Vinodini
Bb D E G A


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This scale also sounds GREAT over iim - V7 - I (Am - D7 - G) progressions:
Gm69 Scale over ii-V-I progressions

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Sometimes the Sax player will add in the 4th above the G root, but not overly often as it doesn't seem to have very much personality in this context.

The b7 is also a possible tone here, but the major 6th seems to be favored over it.

Adding the 4th and b7 to this pentatonic turns it into the Dorian. But a great deal of the charm of this scale lies in avoiding those two notes.

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Analysis over different chords:

When analyzed over the I chord, you can also think of this scale as the "minor 69" pentatonic (1 2 b3 5 6).

Analyzed over the IV chord it yields 9 3 5 6 b7. Like a rootless 13th (no 11).

Analyzed over the V yields 1 2 4 5 #5. The #5 over a V chord sounds great in Blues and minor changes.

Analyzed over the ii chord yields 4 5 b7 1 b2.

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The following examples are notated in Piano Tab
(click here for Piano Tablature Explanation).

Riff 1 "E":

5Et - Gi - Am - Bbr -

5A - G - 4Et - E

Riff 2 "E":

5D#t - Et - Gi - Am - G - Bbr - G - A - E -

5(Ai)Bbm6Ep - (A)Bb6E -

5Am - Gi - A - G -Et

Riff 3 "E":

5(D#i)EiGr -Dt -

4Bbr - Et - Am - G - E -



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copyright 2003 Jeff Brent

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