Topic: Pentatonics

I have been learning pentatonic scales.......
Are there Pentatonic s for just a plain natural scale? Not Major or Minor just a natural scale.


G A B C D E F G..............

What would the derivative be?


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Re: Pentatonics

Pentatonic just means "5 tones" so any scale of 5 tones is, on paper, a pentatonic.

The scale in questiosn is a c major scale going from G to G or a G mixolydian scale. You can pick any 5 of those notes and make a pentatonic scale out of it. That said, what are you looking to accomplish with the scale you're trying to learn?

3 (edited by edshaw 2013-12-13 21:25:10)

Re: Pentatonics

I like to see the pentatonic scales and the minor scales in terms of how they
relate to the major eight note scales. How are they alike and how are they

We know we can form a major eight note scale by following the pattern: Root, whole step,
whole step, half step, whole, whole, half to root (the eighth called octave)
In the key of A major, that scale is:  A B C# D E F# G# A

By planting that scale in our minds, we accomplish several side benefits. Right off,
we are starting to see scales in terms of numbers, or degrees, which is a great help
in getting a handle on progressions and intervals. Very important. But most
important is the progress towards mastery that just learning the patterns hardly
ever leads to.

Now then, let's talk about the pentatonic scales. We'll use  the A minor pentatonic as
an example. Pentatonic scales give us this access to blues, folk, and gospel sound.
In all too many case, that has turned  into instant access, which, in music, can be
the devil in disguise, long term.
On-line teachers teach  the patterns and positions, not the notes.
Once you learn the notes and learn to see the scales relative to the major and to
each other, things get way easier. Trust in that.
You tough it out with the notes. After a while, the patterns become natural. You have added the advantage learning how to read music.

The A major  scale is:  A B C# D E F# G# A

The A minor pentatonic scale is a five note primitive variation. The notes are A C D E G A
There are three approaches to learning that scale, not counting pattern playing, which is instant  access. They are:

(1) I like that because you can actually remember Acey-dayga. Play the notes.
(2) In terms of A major scale, play the 1, flat the 3, play 4, play  5,  flat 7, play 8.
(3) According to the pentatonic formula: Root, one and one half step, whole step, whole step, one and one half step, whole step to root (the eighth, called octave.)

Given the choice, one, two or three of the above, most sane students would pick number one, and consent to the pain of learning the scales and the notes on the instrument. The good thing is that you start with the root scale, called the one, then move on to the four, (D in this case) then the five (E scale) you can start to have fun.

Let's play that A minor Pentatonic scale in the third position.

Start with index on A. That is 5th fret E string.
Next, same  E string,  8th fret, play the  C.  Those are the first two notes of the scale.
The distance between, two frets, is the interval. It is one and a half steps.

Those are the first two notes. Now, down to A string (you know the interval -- one to four is
down a string, same fret) and play D with index.  Next, E with your ring finger, same string,
Down to D string. Same habnd position. Play  G note on the 5th fret. Play the octave (A)
with the ring finger.  We have spelled out acdega.

If all of these correlations between the correct finger for the respective notes seems like I am making a big deal of it, I am because it is a big deal. If you find yourself putting great effort and energy into getting the right hand position and the correct finger, pat yourself
on the back because you are doing something very right.

There are various approaches. I prefer to take a scale, let's say C scale, learn it in a position,then learn the four and five in the same position. It just seems easier, once
you get started, to expand knowledge of a position, rather than a scale. In other words, learn the C scale, then the  F major scale, then the G major scale. Then move on to another position. There are six in all.

Now then, getting back to the subject, since you have done your work and now know how to find the A on the guitar, and you have learned a scale in a position preference,  when A minor Pentatonic is called for, you simply play A C D E G A.  As you progress, you will recognize ACDEGA scales everywhere on the neck there is an A note. Way more flexible, now.

Hand position corresponds to dot on the neck. At first, you make little moves, maybe up a half fret, down a half, occasionally up a fret. The more you play, the bolder you get. Six positions turn into two threes.

Two threes turn into one six, and you are done. You have learned the neck.

We can go through the same process with the C maj scale if you would like. That's the traditional scale of choice.  For several reasons, the A major scale, and the A-D-E progression, has become the favorite of blues and country players who use Pentatonic Scales a lot. That is because the A minor pentatonic scale is so flexible.
The C minor pentatonic is C Eb F G Bb C
To play the C major scale at the third position:
The third hand position, third dot. Index finger is on the 5th fret. Pinky starts  C note on the 8th fret,  top fat E  string.  This is the first note of this C scale. Take it from there. You can play the C maj scale in two octaves starting  from that position and only have to move off that position once, and that is to play the B note on the first octave. The B note I am talking about is on the 4th fret G string.

I understand this seems like a lot. But the reason music theory is stressed is because in the long run it makes it easier, and opens more doors.

The only other thing I would comment to more advanced players (I consider myself a player, not a teacher) is that scales make sense when we pick out little tunes and runs using the scale as the guide to avoid sour notes. You can play around with the major scale and incorporate the pentatonic or minor pentatonic into your noodling around or creative composition. It's not so easy to incorporate the major or minor scale into a framework of knowledge of the pentatonic scale.

There's my contribution to my fellow musicians. Hope it was not too long winded.

Re: Pentatonics

edshaw wrote:

The only other thing I would comment to more advanced players (I consider myself a player, not a teacher) is that scales make sense when we pick out little tunes and runs using the scale as the guide to avoid sour notes.

One of my favorite all time players, Shawn Lane, used to say that "The great thing about scales is that they remind you that even if you hit a bad note, you're only one fret away from a good one."

Sage advice.

Someday we'll win this thing...


Re: Pentatonics

jerome.oneil wrote:
edshaw wrote:

The only other thing I would comment to more advanced players (I consider myself a player, not a teacher) is that scales make sense when we pick out little tunes and runs using the scale as the guide to avoid sour notes.

One of my favorite all time players, Shawn Lane, used to say that "The great thing about scales is that they remind you that even if you hit a bad note, you're only one fret away from a good one."

Sage advice.

A similar saying I picked up from a sax player in one of my bands was "if you hit a bad note repeat it most people will think you intended to play it"

"Growing old is not for sissies"

Re: Pentatonics

i always do, but it still sounds sour

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Re: Pentatonics

Wow, EdShaw! That was a pretty thorough post, man!

I have started a series that will maybe be of some help to people? It will demonstrate all of the modes of the pentatonic scale in traditional and 3-note-per-string versions, talking about incorporating the blue note into all of those modes, as well as the 9 and 13, b13/#5, how and when those are applicable, etc... also how to super impose them over every kind of chord from different. Anyway, hope this helps :-)! … mp;index=2

I make albums and lesson videos:

8 (edited by e s shaw 2014-04-15 16:28:12)

Re: Pentatonics

Thanks, Lee. I'll give yours a look, as will I am sure, others in the forum.
I see a lot of this pentatonic instruction on you tube. Have  not looked at
yours yet, but I am hopeful.
People need to know that the purpose of learning pentatonic scales is not
strictly so that they don't have to learn the eight note western scales. smile
I'm joking, of course, but it seems that way sometimes. It seems sometimes
teachers are conning the students, implying that there is some easy way to
play guitar, which, all things considered, I suppose there really is : learn the
Amin pentatonic!
I toughed my way through the guitar secrets guy's lesson on how to mix up
major and minor pentatonic to enhance your playing. Dude, by the time he got
done showing us all the notes on the major and minor pent, he had the full major
scale plus a flat 3 with a flat 7, which is how we play it anyway. 
Major pent is 1-2-3-5-6-1
Minor pent is 1-3b-4-5-7b
Then they come here and ask, "What notes goes with what chords?"

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Re: Pentatonics

I hear ya, Shaw. What blew my mind when I was in school, was learning that the Pentatonic can be played in multiple places on the neck to achieve every mode of the Major scale (which includes the minor scale of course because the aeolian mode, the minor scale, is the 6th mode of the major scale). In fact, you can even play notes from the altered scale with the pentatonic scale.

I know this is a tad rushed because I have to run at the moment, but as an example of what I mean: people might want to try these sweet tips/tricks.

Over an Amaj7 chord, you can play:
Bmin pent (bit tense, many scale tones)
C#min pent (Really good sounding)
F#min pent (That's the relative minor)
and G#min pent (The hippest of all, has the 7, 9, 3, #11 and 13)!

I gotta finish up some some stuff here in the studio, but I'll come back to add some more tips later! Also, my vids will cover all that eventually. I plan to be concise but also step-by-step thorough :-).

I make albums and lesson videos:

10 (edited by e s shaw 2014-04-17 18:27:04)

Re: Pentatonics

That's a most impressive set of You Tube lessons, Lee. I looked at them
just as my bandwidth allotment was running.  The allotment recharged this,
morning, so I'll be back.

Personally, I think we should on insist on learning the 1-3-5 and the 1-4-5,
the chords and progressions.  Like I say, I do not pretend to know the blues mind,
but I admire what it can accomplish. As you indicate, there really are not "pentatonic
chords," as such, but rather, harmonics.  Yours are pretty advanced for me and my style.
Still, once I learned the progressions and the chords, the scales came relatively easy,
compared my mates. My bandleader (yes, you can play in a band knowing the A and E smile
said I was cutting through the bull. I think he was right.
Even today, where I consider myself a few bricks short of professional, but am keeping at
it, I make use of that basic knowledge.
The best thing about that basic knowledge is that there is an immediate connection to hearing.
When a chord or 1-4-5  is right, you can hear it.
I have been a little weak on that 7th fret, (third position)  top three strings, pinky on the E note.  I was
practicing it. The fact that I know instinctively that below the E note is the A note, and above the
E note (again, we are talking fret 7)  is the B note makes it so much easier to get a handle on,
because that is the e-a-b progression, 1-4-5, used often.
The same principle applies all over the neck.  We all have blind spots, I am sure.

Keep up the good video work. My channel is   
Sounds like you have your hands full and your long term agenda worked out.
I might have a lesson script or two kicking around, but I'll probably never
get to doing anything with them. Working mostly now on ads sad

Incidentally, I recently charted the relative minor pentatonics for C, F, and G.
That turns out to be Aminor , Dminor , and Eminor pentatonics. I was surprised to
see there is not a single sharp or flat in those scales.
Aminor= ACDEGA
Dminor= DFGACD
There is graphic evidence that the Aminor Pentatonic is a flexible scale. The only oddballs
are the F inthe Dminor and the B in the Eminor. That's easy to remember because the
D is the rel minor of F  and the  Emin for G.  The Dmin contains the FAC and the Emin
contains the GBD, just as the Amin contains the CEG.  Spooky, but Hard to go wrong.
I was surprised to see AC-DC in the Dm scale. Is that some kind of a code?? :0

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Re: Pentatonics

You can do a ton with pentatonics by only changing one note here or there. smile

Re: Pentatonics

Yeah. I am thinking one reasons blues players do so many
cool things is that they all learn to start the scale from any
note on it. Us major scale players often just get conditioned
to start the run on  do, mi, and (l)

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Re: Pentatonics

Also play around on chord tones.

14 (edited by Lee Wanner 2014-04-17 19:53:33)

Re: Pentatonics

One of the main differences of the pentatonic scale is that it isn't a staircase of whole steps and half steps. It has larger jumps and for that reason people like Dean Brown (Excellent jazz fusion player and super nice guy, played with Brecker Bros and others) say that the scale is already a melody, or as much a melody as it is a scale. Nothing need be discounted and likewise quality can't be determined by popularity. Pentatonics are a great way to solo without sounding like you are thinking of scales, especially if you alternate between pents over a each chord.

Shaw, you mentioned pents for C-F-G progression (I-IV-V). When looking at it as being a progression in Cmaj, we can then look at the harmonized scale and play minor pent from all of the minor chords in that progression (The ii-iii-vi chords, and of course that bonus one I mentioned earlier Bmi [the vii] to get all those ultra tasty chord/scale tones).

However... if those are played as a blues, then the chords would presumably be C7-F7-G7. That changes everything, because we can't see it in the key of Cmaj any longer. In the harmonized maj scale dominant chords are V chords, so we would view C7 as being in the key of F... that means we can play the min pent again from the ii-iii-vi chords, which would be Gmin pent, Amin pent and Dmin pent (also we can of course play Cmin pent if we bend the b3 up to a regular 3rd to achieve that bluesy sound).

Then applying that same thinking to to the F7 chord means that we can play: Cmin pent, Dmin pent and Gmin pent (Amin pent doesn't work anymore because you'd be playing a 7th over F dominant, which requires a b7). Also, as with all dom chords, you can play a min pent from the root as mentioned in the previous paragraph (this case being Fmin pent).

Then applying that same thinking to to the G7 chord means that we can play: Dmin pent, Emin pent and Amin pent. Also, a min pent from the root (this case being Gmin pent).

One last ultra awesome tip, is that whenever a dominant chord is a "functioning dominant", meaning it is the V of whatever follows it (i.e. C is the V of F, or G is the V of C, etc) you can play a min pent from a b3 up and you'll be playing a selection of notes from the altered scale. So if you are in a C7 blues and you are at the turn around, going from G7 back to C7, you can play Bbmin pent over the G7.

Here is a special treat! Skip to 2:25 for the solo, to catch this pentatonic super impositions in action :-).

This talk has me encouraged to upload my Pent vids more frequently, hahaha. I do kind of have like 5 series running at the moment, which is fun and cool but it spreads my topics a little thin perhaps. On the other hand, maybe it's good, I mean an average person only takes 1 lesson a week anyway and 1-2 uploads a week for a single topic might be perfect. I'll have to think on that some more, probably.

I make albums and lesson videos:

Re: Pentatonics

These discussions are moving my playing along, nicely.  Actually it goes back to some comments these
same people made in response to a post of mine this winter.
My topic is Maj7 chords right now. Lee, I got something from your videos. I wanted to separate out
the vids on Maj7 chords. You tube can turn into a jumble.  I needed an index of links.
I'm not really an ear player, but the cool thing is that in charting as many C7 chords as was practical,
some patterns were awesome, some were so so, and some were not so good.  That's new territory for
me, really, to approach it in this way.
My mastery of triads ad inversions didn't help at all when it came to sevenths.

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