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Hexatonic Scales

Bass Edu

Hexatonic Scales

Hexatonic Scales… What’s going on basschicks and bassdudes!

In this lesson, we are going to talk about the Hexatonic scale. You are probably wondering what the heck this scale is and to be honest it is not just one scale. It is a classification of many different scales that all have one thing in common.

What is a Hexatonic Scale

Hexatonic scales are a classification of six noted scales. Basically, any scale with six notes is considered a hexatonic scale. When I am speaking of these types of scales we are not including the octave since it is technically the same note as the root. The three hexatonic scales we are going to talk about are the whole tone, blues, and augmented scales.

Whole Tone Scale

This scale is as easy as it sounds. Each note you play is going to be one step apart with no half steps. This scale does not have one note that stands out. This makes it easy if you are trying to learn your fretboard and write a groovy, funky tune.

This type of scale was first used by composers Franz Liszt, Mikhail Glinka, Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Borodin. Famous French composer Claude Debussy used this type of scale and whole tone pattern throughout his compositions.


No matter what note you start on, each note will be one step apart.

Hexatonic Scales

Some songs that utilize the whole tone scale:

  • Stevie Wonder – You Are the Sunshine of My Life (introduction)
  • One More Red Nightmare – King Crimson
  • 30 seconds into The Simpsons theme song
  • Claude Debussy – Voiles
  • Thelonious Monk – Four in One

Blues Scale

There is no clear-cut time frame of when it actually began. It is said to have originated in the American south during the time of slavery. This scale is so popular it has its own genre of music: blues! This is also popular in other genres including various forms of rock, pop, funk, Jazz, etc.

This 6-noted scale is a minor pentatonic scale with a flatted fifth added.


Hexatonic Scales

There are a plethora of songs that utilize the blues scale including:

  • Ice Cream Man – Van Halen
  • Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin
  • Tush – ZZ Top
  • Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry
  • Tutti Frutti – Little Richard
  • Crossroads – Eric Clapton
  • I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown
  • Red House – Jimi Hendrix
  • Rave On – Buddy Holly
  • Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

Augmented Scale

This is not a scale that you will see or hear very often. It is a strange scale but really cool to learn and improvise with.

This scale is also known as a minor third-half step scale because of the note progressions.

Hexatonic Scales

There are only four unique augmented scales because the scale is symmetrical and also does not have a leading tone like the whole tone scale.

When we talk about any augmented scales, triads, and chords there is going to be a plus sign (+) next to the note name.

Hexatonic Scales

Some songs that utilize the augmented scale:

  • Straphangin’ – Michael Brecker
  • One Down, One Up – John Coltrane
  • Hoe-Down – Oliver Nelson
  • Survival of the Fittest – Freddie Hubbard
  • Oh Darling – The Beatles

I hope you all enjoyed this lesson and make sure to check out the other videos and lessons on Bass Musician Magazine’s YouTube and website!

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