‘Inverse Scales’ – Instant Outside!

I dunno if this is something that is widely known and called something different, but I found this thing which I’m referring to as ‘Inverse Scales’ which enable you to quite easily play something that is outside without having to think too much.

Let’s take for example the scale C major – it contains the notes C D E F G A B. Now, if we fill in all the other notes so we have the full chromatic scale, the missing notes are C# Eb F# Ab Bb (or their enharmonic equivalents if you want to refer to all sharps or all flats).  If you play these notes you soon realize that these make up the scale Eb Pentatonic.

So, Eb Pentatonic I refer to as the Inverse Scale of C major.

In terms of application, over a C major chord (or any progression where you’ll be using modes of C) try playing a few notes of C major and then switch to Eb Pent for a while. You get a juxtaposed ‘outside’ sound immediately before you switch back to C. In terms of visualization on the board I think this is kind of easy to do, so I think of it as very quick and dirty way to get outside sounds. I have no idea how music theoreticians will think about this though…  Try this lick below:


First eight notes are all diatonic to C, then the next eight are all completely outside of the C major scale. Note that I end on my target note of C, bringing the lick back to key.


One Response to “‘Inverse Scales’ – Instant Outside!”

  1. I suppose you could also think of the latter half with the Ebmin Pentatonic scale, as an Ebmin Pentatonic with dorian sort of overlayed (Cb would be native to Ebmin, but the C is a raised 6th, thus the dorian sounding ending)

    I could be wrong…but yeah, that is how it appears to me.

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