How can I get an arabic sound?


I’m trying to write a song with an arabic feel and I think the arabic scale would be great to use. However, this scale isn’t available on Hookpad and I’m using the Phrygian Dominant scale instead but it isn’t exactly the sound I’m looking for.

Do you guys have some tip for me?

Thanks in advance!


I believe what you are referring to is microtonals.
Arabic music uses intervals smaller than a semitone.
I am not sure this can be achieved in hooktheory as it is focused on western music (tones and semitones).

What you desire to achieve can be done using some free VSTs in your DAW where you can tune your instruments into microtonal intervals. Just google your DAWs name along side “microtonal” and you will find some answers.

Let me know how it goes!

Hi! Thanks for your attention but I’m not referring to microtonals but to Double harmonic scale. The closest I got was using the Phrygian dominant scale and raise the 7th note melody a half step but couldn’t do anything about the harmony.

The result of this mix of Double harmonic scale in melody and Phrygian dominant scale is satisfactory but with some dissonances. If I could adjust the 7th on the harmony too, it would do the deal.

You can write every chord you want by using the search button when you are in chord mode.

You can also lower or raise each note by a half tone with the raise and lower half buttons.

This should give you enough flexibility to write the double harmonic scale both with chords and melody.
Please let me know if that helped.

I tried search button and tone sets but I couldn’t find, for example, the 7th chord because it is a double-diminished chord (the interval between the 7th to the 2nd is a diminished third).

On the melody I used the raise half button and it’s fine, although if creates a dissonance with the chord:


I think there are a few concepts which might help you:

  • Arabic music often has no concept of harmony but rather a melody sounding over a drone sound which plays the root note of your scale the whole time. This can be great for intros and interludes.
  • Assuming that your root note is A like in your examples I would try to only use the following chords: A, Bb, Gm and Dm. There is no need to use chords which are diminished or augmented as those chords sound themselves rather dissonant and nothing like arabic music. Also the the C#m which would be theoretically a chord of the A double harmonic scale sounds out of place as it is far too dark.
  • In my experience the 7th scale degree can be both natural and flat. It depends on if you have a Bb in the nearer part of the melody or not. Either use Bb-A-G-A or A-G#-F-E-F-G#A but never use two halftone steps in a row. Never do something like Bb-A-G#-A.
  • When using the Gm chord try to avoid the G# but use G instead.
  • Try bring your chords always back to A-major. Something like A-Bb-Gm-A or even only A-Gm-A-Gm might be appropriate. Try to use those three chords for a while and the start another chord progression with Dm to get a different sound there. But bring the progression back to A-major. Something like Dm-Bb-Gm-A might work.

Only for the record if you want to find a G# double diminished chord you might look for a Bb7 in third inversion with no5. But I wouldn’t advise to use that chord.

Have fun playing around with those concepts a bit. I hope that helped a bit.


Thank you very much, @DSchwachhofer ! This helps a lot! I’m “translating” a existing song from Am to A double-harmonic and I was keeping the same harmony. Now it’s clear that I’ll have to make some adjustments to it.

Once again, thank you very much for your help!