Exotic Scales: Hirajoshi Scale

Welcome back! In this lesson I will be showing you some exotic scales I like to use; this first section we will be focusing on the Japanese Hirajoshi scale. I have been using this scale in different areas in my music for a long time. Basically, the Hirajoshi scale is a tuning scale adapted from shamisen music by Yatsuhashi Kengyo for tuning of the Koto.

The Hirajoshi scale is a 5 note scale built root, major 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 5th and minor 6th. You can also think of it as a minor triad with a added major 2nd and a minor 6th degree. I just gave you a couple of patterns to practice for now off the 6th and 5th strings that you will see in Example1a and Example1b. You will want to learn the scale all over the whole neck.

MP3 - Example 1a
MP3 - Example 1b

Example 2 is based on the B Hirajoshi scale (B, C#, D, F#, G). This line is a good example on how to create a phrase from the Hirajoshi scale you may hear played on a Koto, or on another Japanese instrument. The half steps add a neat effect to the line and help create an exotic flavor and help you get a feel for the phrasing.

MP3 - Example 2

Example 3 is another line based on the B Hirajoshi scale. This one moves pretty quickly across the neck, and uses all 16th notes. There are some tricky spots for your right hand picking, especially at beat 3. You may want to follow the suggested fingerings.

MP3 - Example 3

Example 4 is a 3 octave pattern that moves across the neck very quickly and is played using the same fingering pattern in each octave. Another way to look at the Hirajoshi scale is just take out the 4 and b7 of a Natural minor scale, this is a real easy way to apply the scale. Instead of playing the full minor scale just play the Hirajoshi scale of the root of the Natural minor.

MP3 - Example 4


OK that is it! Be sure to make up your own Hirajoshi lines. Also, I would like send thoughts and prayers to the people of Japan that were affected by the tsunami. Please check out my CDs and order them right off this site. Visit mikecampese.com for more information.

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

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