The Comprehensive Scale Catalog — PDF Files
The Comprehensive Scale Catalog is an extensive set of scales that can serve to inspire melodies in your flute playing. Many players use them to “get out of a rut” and expand their music.
The catalog is meant to be a tool for exploration of scales from world
music traditions. Most players of Native American flutes use a very small number
of alternate scales, so please do not feel compelled to try to learn the full set of scales in the catalog.
This page provides two versions of the scale catalog. One version provides 14 scales and the other provides 66 scales. Each of the version is available for a variety of fingerings. See the main Comprehensive Scale Catalog page for documentation and details.
Scale Catalogs with 14 Scales
Each of these PDF scale catalogs contains 14 scales on two pages:
Scale Catalogs with 66 Scales
Each of the PDF scale catalogs on the remainer of this page contains 66 scales on nine pages:
The first scale that most people
teach is the pentatonic minor scale.
However, I've found that a great
alternative is the Bugle Scale. It is
also a great scale to teach as a first alternate scale - after
experimenting with the “pick up
your fingers in a different order” approach.
Note that the root of the Bugle Scale is not . If
you improvise melodies in this scale, you will find yourself ending
on — the root of this scale.
The great thing about the Bugle Scale is that it is a great lead-in to playing one of the core songs in the Native flute's repertoire: Amazing Grace.
Note that all the other scales on this first page that I am calling “Core Scales” also
have a root that is above the fundamental note on the instrument.
Pentatonic Major can be a revelation for many novice and intermediate players,
because it opens the door to playing in a major key. Simply keeping the same
notes as Pentatonic Minor, but moving the root note of your playing (where you
begin and end your phrases and melodies) changes the key to major.
Three-Note and Four-Note Scales
These “sparse” scales follow the
rule of dropping notes. They are
typically easier to learn than the
other scales because they have
relatively few notes.
Note the fingerings in red: they are
notes in the upper register of some
(but not all) Native American flutes.
I've added them to the charts
to make them available if your flute
happens to be able to play those
Exotic Pentatonic Scales
These are often the best scales to
begin with if you are exploring new
scales. They provide a “sparse”
feel that evokes Asian cultures.
The notes in orange are not
recommended — I've added them to
the scale catalog simply to show
that these notes are in the scale,
but playing them can be extremely
difficult on most flutes. However,
their corresponding notes in the
second register, in particular the
note typically played with the
fingering , can be excellent
Variants of Pentatonic Minor
These scales are all slight
variations of the Pentatonic Minor
scale. They differ by only one note
from the core Pentatonic minor
It is fun to explore how making just
a small change in a well-known
scale can dramatically change the
feel of the scale.
These scales increase the number
of notes from the five notes of
Pentatonic Minor. The seven
scales on this page are among the
most versatile, although they take
the feel of melodies in a whole
different direction from the typical
melodies played on this instrument.
Upper Major and High Major are
two versions of the Diatonic Major
scale. On these two scales, you
can play many songs from the
Western European tradition of
music, especially those that stay
within one octave (such as many hymns).
These two pages show fingerings for a
full set of seven diatonic scales.
Each one starts on or
If you can access three notes in the
upper octave, gives you a full one
octave in the scale.
Other Pentatonic Scales
And finally, the last two pages
show an array of other five-note
scales from world cultures.
Six-Hole Pentatonic Minor
Native American Flute Scale Catalog: Six-Hole Pentatonic Minor
Northern Spirit Fingerings
Native American Flute Scale Catalog: Northern Spirit Fingerings
High Spirits Mid-Tone A Minor Fingerings
Native American Flute Scale Catalog: High Spirits Mid-Tone A Minor Fingerings