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7 Guitar Techniques To Use With (The Egyptian) Scale

The Egyptian Scale

Hey music friends, again, it is commonly called by some “The Egyptian Scale” but the origin remains a mystery, Arabic? Turkish? Spanish? Maybe, however, what is 100% sure is that it sounds great when used on context in Arabic and Middle Eastern music.

As usual, I will talk freely as I could in the beginning as an appetizer, if you are the kind with a short temper please proceed to the main course below 🙂

I have been asked by many friends and viewers on Youtube and Facebook to share some techniques I like to use when I play “The Egyptian Scale”. Today I summarized 7 of my most favorite guitar techniques that I use specially when I play the Hijaz.

I will have to admit that most of them were influenced and inspired (I am not sure which word is the correct one here) anyway, by many great guitar legends. It is natural to be influenced with everything you hear, specially the sounds you love. So, I will take this chance and mention some of my guitar gods/heroes. Joe Satriani – Gary Moore – David Gilmour – Andy Timmons – Marty Friedman – Metallica

All the examples I will show you today and on Hijaz from E. Or in western music theory language E Phrygian Dominant. Keep in mind that my approach here treats it as an independent scale and not a relative mode to the parent Harmonic minor in A.

You are free to use this relativity between Harmonic minor and phrygian dominant if it helps you visualize and connect patterns on the guitar fretboard. However, as a tonic center you will not get that Arabic Exotic Sound unless you focus on E as a root. So play from E to E to sound Phrygian Dominant. If you play A Harmonic Minor you could sound exotic in a bit that is closer to dramatic film scores or classic music but not that kind of exotic that is close to Arabic/Spanish or Middle eastern.

That was a bit of a mix of history and music theory, so let me now start with the introduction to the 7 cool techniques.

I tried in all the examples played to use a simple main phrase that is repeated in a few variations and additions. It is basically the Hijaz Jins

I don’t want you to be surprised about the words, jins does not have nothing to do with sexuality, however in Arabic it means that exactly. In a music context it means something closer to “kind” and practically it is like the “Essence” of the scale. The first 4 notes of any “Maqam” or musical scale are called the Jins of the Maqam or the Essence of the Scale

Look at the scale diagram below and see the Jins of Hijaz Scale highlighted in same color on every single string. This sequence of four notes E,F,G#,A is called Jins Hijaz and like I said it is the essence of the scale.

You can also play the same Jins using any two successive strings. It will have a square shape if you look at it on the scale diagram below. See that square starting on fret 9 on the G string? E F on G then G# A on B. That is what I call the Hijaz square. (where I live, in Cairo there is an actual place that is called the same name, Hijaz Square)

That is the Jins of Hijaz played on two strings, in this lesson and next ones I will show you many ideas you can apply using this simple chunk of the Hijaz scale.

7 Techniques.

1. Open Strings

Play a rhythmic sequence of three or four notes with inserts of the note of an open string. Combine two or more strings to play more interesting sequences.

check the video below for a quick sample. and check the scale diagram for a quick guide to find the nearest Jins to play 🙂

2. Exotic Picking

As inspired by Joe Satriani, Use the tip of your pick to hammer on with the right angle close to the base of a string near its saddle. This way you can produce that sitar like vibrating exotic sound.

check the video below for a quick sample. and check the scale diagram for a quick guide to find the nicest sequence to play 🙂

3. Wide Bends

As inspired by Gary Moore, David Gilmour. String bending is one of the most expressive techniques you can play on the electric guitar to produce vocal like screaming and weeping melodies. It makes your guitar sing, specially when you play those wide intervals and add some tasty vibrato.

Creative vibrato sounds were inspired by Joe Satriani – Albert Collins – Steve Vai – Andy Timmons and many others.

4. Drones

First time I heard a similar sound it reminded me of the sitar instrument. It was the song Wherever I May Roam by Metallica. Other guitarists like John Petrucci, Vinnie Moore and Yngwie Malmsteen frequently utilize this technique to sound exotic.

Use the low or high E strings as pedal note or a drone to produce that familiar exotic sound as played on Oud and many other Arabic and Middle Eastern instruments

5. Octaves

Octaves are widely used in Jazz and Blues music to produce a smooth sound with a touch of chorus. The sound of a pair of octaves have the low and the high pitch of the same note. It is very expressive and rich.

Use finger plucking to produce staccato sequences of octaves.

Strum of slide between octaves with a touch of tremolo bar presses to add that exotic sound as heard in the music by players like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

Octaves on guitar fretboard

6. Tremolo Picking + Legato

Tremolo picking might be best to describe in one world. Miserlou by Dick Dale 🙂 it is one of the most famous film soundtracks ever as heard in Pulp Fiction.

This technique is frequently used on fretless musical instruments like Oud – Bouzoq – Baglama and others. When it is combined to play on the electric guitar with legato techniques it can produce exiting sound as heard in the shredding runs by guitarists like Joe Satriani – John Petrucci – Vinnie Moore and many others.

7. Tapping Trills

Tapping could be one of the most eye catchy and impressive techniques played on the electric guitar. It is usually mentioned and in a few seconds the mention of Eddie Van Halen and/or Eruption will follow 🙂

Combining tapping and trills as inspired by Joe Satriani, Use the tip of your pick to play tapping triplets/trills.

The End

hope you have a good time exploring and experimenting with those guitar techniques to integrate them into your playing. Compose music and play creative exciting solos, there is nothing better in the world 🙂

If you like to explore more about “The Egyptian Scale” check my mini course. 15 Oriental Hijaz Licks

You can get an immediate download when you purchase it here. With videos + guitar pro tabs + scale diagrams + drones and backing tracks and much more..

Jam Tracks To Practice All This 🙂

here is a list to practice all the techniques I talked about in this lesson

Jam on, Rock on and Enjoy 🙂

Thanks for vising my site.

See you soon in a new post.

– chusss

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