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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

The Spanish 8-Tone Distinctive

The basic concept of this "Modal Distinctives" series is that you can get to the distinctive sound of a mode without learning the whole mode, or getting all confused by modal theory, but by adding, or altering, a single note of the most commonly-known scale among guitarists; the Minor Pentatonic.

We have covered these minor Modes/Scales thus far:

  1. Aeolian

  2. Dorian

  3. Phrygian

  4. Locrian

  5. Harmonic Minor

We’ve covered these major Modes/Scales:

  1. Ionian

  2. Lydian

  3. Mixolydian

The Spanish 8-Tone Scale will be a little more complicated in that adding to or altering a single note of the Minor Pentatonic will not suffice to give us the distinctive sound of the Spanish 8-Tone Scale. We'll have to add two notes to the Minor Pentatonic.

First, let's review the Minor Pentatonic patterns we'll be working from; one with a 6th-string root, and one with a 5th-string root:

You should drill the above two patterns in every key around the Circle.


If you don't know what I mean by, "around the Circle," stop right here and download the 5-Lesson Foundational Series. This series of lessons teaches the Circle of Keys as an organizational mechanism by which you ensure that whatever you learn is drilled in every key in all possible positions. It also gives you a method to find any note, anywhere, without memorizing note names on every string. That is a beautiful thing!

You can download the 5-Lesson Foundational Series right here for free with no further obligation or commitment:


Commensurate with the Quick & Dirty concept we're going to simplify things even more by dealing only with the upper octave, which is where most of the soloing activity occurs:

The first thing is to add a Minor 2nd. I call it the "Phrygian 2" (Ph2 in the diagrams below); we covered it in The Phrygian Distinctive. So that will look like this:

The other note we have to add is a Major 3rd. So now we have two 3rds; the Minor 3rd that's part of the Minor Pentatonic Scale and a Major 3rd. We covered the Major 3rd in The Mixolydian Distinctive. So here's the Minor Pentatonic with both the Phrygian 2 and the Major 3rd added:

The most common context in which I use the Spanish 8-Tone Scale is what I call the "Malagueña Progression." In the key of A (6th-string pattern) it would be:

In the Key of D (5th-string pattern) it would be:


If you would like a lesson on the complete Spanish 8-Tone Scale go to:

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