The whole tone scale produces a tonally ambiguous sound that when played alone can create an ‘eerie’ or ‘ominous’ mood. Its use was once frowned upon by strict classical composers, but the scale’s distinctive sound can now be heard fairly regularly in classical, film and jazz music.
Whole Tone Scale Guitar Diagrams
The notes in the diagrams below are all white, because every note in the whole tone scale can be considered to be the ‘name’ note of the scale.
Whole Tone Scale Theory
As its name suggests, a whole-tone scale is simply a series of notes a tone apart – there are no other intervals (such as a semitone, or minor third) between the notes, and every note in the scale can be considered to be its root. Because of this, there are really only two whole tone scales.
Notes In A Whole Tone Scale
There are only two whole tone scales – one which contains the notes C, D, E, F#, G# and A#, and another which contains the notes C#, D#, F, G, A and B#.
Between them, they cover the entire 12 notes in an octave.