The whole tone scale is a six note scales with a numeric formula of 1-2-3-♯4-♯5-♯6-8/1 (no seventh degree). It is a symmetrical scale in that it follows a distinct pattern of steps, those being all whole steps from tonic to tonic, this poses a problem as there can only be a total of six whole steps within the twelve notes we have, so the seventh degree is left out all together making a six note scale. There are really only four practicable patterns of the whole tone scale (due to it's symmetry) with tonics on the fifth and sixth strings, two patterns for each tonic, one which stays in position and another that covers a large area of the neck in an upwards movement.
Harmonized whole tone scale
Tertian harmony is the harmonization of a scale moving up in thirds, whether they be major or minor. Secundal harmony is the harmonization of a scale moving up in seconds and Quartal harmony is moving up in fourths. Using strict Tertian harmony principals when harmonizing the whole tone scale (in other words using every second note in the scale for example: C-E-G) produces six augmented triads, if we harmonize using tetrads we come up with six dominant seventh sharp five chords (the augmented sixth degree being used as the minor seventh as they are enharmonic). Now relaxing the rules and making use of Secundal harmony opens up some more interesting possibilities as we are now given a flat fifth (enharmonic to the ♯4). This produces six flat five chords and six dominant seventh flat five chords. For pentads we add a major ninth interval and come up with six dominant ninth sharp five chords and six dominant ninth flat five chords (equivalent to a dominant ninth sharp eleventh chord).
Whole tone scale profile
|Notation formula (key of C)||C-D-E-F♯-G♯-A♯-C/1|
|Stepping||whole, whole, whole, whole, whole, whole|
|Tonal||tone, tone, tone, tone, tone, tone|
|Harmonized triads (key of C)||C⁺, C(♭5) / D⁺, D(♭5) / E⁺, E(♭5) / F♯⁺, F♯(♭5) / G♯⁺, G♯(♭5) / A♯⁺, A♯(♭5)|
|Harmonized tetrads (key of C)||C7(♯5), C7(♭5) / D7(♯5), D7(♭5) / E7(♯5), E7(♭5) / F♯7(♯5), F♯7(♭5) / G♯7(♯5), G♯7(♭5) / A♯7(♯5), A♯7(♭5)|
Whole tone scale patterns
Whole tone scale audio sample(s)
|A Whole tone scale sixth string tonic|