Pat Metheny takes a look at Barry Harris theory via Scaler 3

The late great master of jazz and bebop theory Barry Harris (whose 6th Diminished concepts are taking the world by storm) would smile down from heaven if Scaler 3 had a section dedicated to the exploration of his discoveries.

Barry Harris has unveiled a new symmetrical harmonic universe which to many seems the most significant development in Western harmony since Arnold Schoenberg invented the 12 tone system. To me the Barry Harris system actually eclipses serialism not only because of its philosophical/musical mirroring of gender and spirituality, but also because, unlike serialism, which purports to leave traditional harmonic theory behind, BH relay-races into the future, making sense of the diatonic universe (at last).

For guitarists (like me) the new Drop Voicings already incorporated into Scaler 2 would work very well with a Barry Harris section.

It’s beyond wonderful to have these (and so much else). Massive thanx to the devs!

PS It’s rumoured that Pat Metheny himself is studying the Barry Harris method these days. (In a low-lit loft somewhere in New York Scaler 3 glows onscreen as the Maestro’s newest and most-cosmic composition takes form, hehe.)

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I must admit to being completely ignorant of this work, not being a ‘jazz person’ (although I have been to Pat Metheny and Alan Holdsworth concerts). So I fired up my reference guitar scale app ( ) and as far as I could tell some of BH’s scales were in fact in there under names like ‘Dorian Blues’ and ‘Phrygiolocrian’ which I’ve never looked at before. They seem to be classed at ‘Bebop’ - is that right ?

They seem to playable by both Caged and 3NPS fingerings. I’ll have a go.

Edit later : I spent half an hour reading about serialism and I now see my comment directly above is obvious rubbish because all the scales in my software are octatonic and tonally based. I need to read more about it.

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Major Bebop scale is the same as Barry’s Sixth Diminished scale, but the first was really a rhythmic device to have strong tones land on downbeats whereas Barry moves off into another harmonic universe based on the presence of a 6th chord and a diminished chord within the scale.

Best intro/overview here:

Ok, so Netdiagrams sussed out the scales ok.

The link was very good, and after about 20 minutes I think I got my basic questions answered. I was puzzled by the references to ‘serialism’ (which I sort of associated with atonal, chromatic, throwing billiard balls at a harp music) and the Bebop scales.
Robbie Barnby in the vid cleared this up extremely lucidly, by noting that (if I understood it) whereas bebop in use essentially treats the additional note to the diatonic as an embellishing passing note, the BH approach raises this to a first class player in the overall harmonic picture.

I then had a look at Barry Harris Trio - Live at Clasijazz (Full concert) - YouTube never having heard him. I was surprised that this was easily listenable, and enjoyed it.

I might get a better grasp after 5 years study …

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Yeah, like you I’m on the lower slopes of a gigantic mountain but determined to keep going. A Scaler 3 implementation of the BH vision would be pure oxygen I reckon.