Pentatonic Scales

Pentatonic scales provide one of the cornerstones for blues and rock improvisation, consisting essentially of major and minor pentatonic scales with two notes missing from them.

Pythagoras was the first to investigate these scales, yet they have long since been used by all types of musicians for thousands of years – evidence such as Hohle Fels’ Ice Age bone flute even suggests their potential innateness!

The Major Pentatonic Scale

The major pentatonic scale may not be as familiar to guitarists, but its influence in music cannot be overlooked. You’ll hear it used frequently across rock, blues and country genres due to its open and bright sound that works well across many major chord progressions.

Pentatonic scales can also help transition between keys with ease; for instance, using minor pentatonic might not sound ideal when playing over an E7 in key of A, so switching up to major pentatonic can give a better feel and sound.

The pattern of the major pentatonic scale is straightforward to remember – simply recall all five notes found in an octave of C major scale without including 4th and 7th notes, which will give you five notes that make up this scale. Furthermore, its tonality stems from its absence of semitone intervals (half steps), which tend to create dissonant notes which need to be resolved.

Major pentatonic scale can be played on any string, though for ease of learning it’s best to start on the sixth string and use your pointer finger as you finger each position – unlike minor pentatonic which uses pinky to start playing each fret with. Each position of major pentatonic has the same formation as first position of minor pentatic, making learning both easier.

As with any new scale, learning this one requires patience. By taking things slowly and paying close attention to getting its patterns down pat, you’ll make more progress – helping prevent bad habits as you go!

Once you have all of the positions memorized, try playing them over a chord progression in your preferred key to gain an idea of their sound as well as how harmoniously they fit together. This will provide valuable feedback on what sounds best.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The minor pentatonic scale is an indispensable tool for all guitarists. It can be found across a range of genres – rock, blues, jazz – as well as being one of the more widely used melodic soloing scales.

The minor pentatonic scale consists of five notes with a very minor sound due to its flatted third. To create this scale, simply start from a diatonic C major scale and omit the fourth and seventh scale degrees; leaving only C, D, E, G and A as notes for your pentatonic minor scale as shown below:

An alternative method of creating the minor pentatonic scale is starting with the root note and working your way upward. This will result in an ascending-and-descending scale pattern like this one:

As you learn scale shapes, it can be helpful to play them ascending and descending in order to train both your ear and build mechanical skill in fretting and picking notes. Furthermore, practising these scales in different keys will increase their versatility in improvisational settings.

Learning the minor pentatonic scale requires starting from its root note and moving up the neck as you learn each position of its scale. This will create a series of notes that is easy to remember and use backwards during improvisation – this pattern of notes is known as a “box shape.”

Once you’ve learned the basic box shape of a minor pentatonic scale, you can begin playing it in different keys and adding extensions to your playing. These extensions will allow you to seamlessly incorporate it over chord progressions in major keys without creating dissonant chords – something which is crucial for blues guitar.

An effective approach to learning extensions is starting from your root note (A), then gradually ascending each string from there. Be sure to use pinky fingers on all six strings – this finger position should never become lost!

The Dominant Pentatonic Scale

Unlike its minor pentatonic cousin, which should typically only be played over major chords, the dominant pentatonic scale can be applied over both major and minor chords. Furthermore, its removal of intervals that create half steps (or semitones), which cause dissonance with certain chords makes this choice suitable for playing over chromatic or diminished chords.

Notable about the dominant pentatonic scale is its consistent scale shapes across the fretboard, saving guitarists valuable time by eliminating memorizing new scale shapes for every key they play in. Practice playing your dominant pentatonic scales keeping in mind each key’s tonic for rapid mastery of all keys!

One major distinction between dominant and minor pentatonic scales lies in their shared root notes, making transition between keys much easier as fretboard positions don’t need to change as often.

Dominant pentatonic scales are invaluable, as they can be utilized over numerous chord progressions. While the major pentatonic cannot be played over most minor chords, dominant pentatonics contain none of the notes which clash with minor chord tones allowing for easy application over any minor chord progression.

Understanding the dominant pentatonic scale can be immensely helpful when improvising over minor chord progressions. Applying it over minor chords opens up many melodic paths to explore and can even help resolve tension between chords in your song!

Pentatonic scales should be seen as building blocks upon which to construct larger ones, such as major pentatonic. This scale takes its cue from C major, with only its 4th and 7th scale degrees eliminated to form major pentatonic. They help differentiate Ionian from Lydian scales but they’re absent here.

The Subdominant Pentatonic Scale

Pentatonic scales form the core of numerous styles of music, from rock and blues to jazz and traditional folk. Their accessible structure grants them great versatility for melodic improvisation and harmonization – as well as being an excellent starting point for novice musicians.

Freddie Mercury was known to use pentatonic scales when structuring his songs, which allowed him to deliver iconic hits like Bohemian Rhapsody and We Will Rock You perfectly in unison with his audience. Today, many popular a cappella groups such as Pentatonix use such scales in their arrangements.

Major and minor pentatonic scales are among the easiest scales to learn as they contain only five notes in an octave, as opposed to seven-note heptatonic scales typically found in most western musical keys. Both scales can be played using patterns 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 as seen in this chord progression diagram below.

Once you’ve mastered these shapes, they can be applied to any chord – from dominant and minor chords, through fingering exercises that help develop fretboard dexterity to improvising using different rhythms to add dynamic elements into your playing and increase rhythmic abilities.

Pentatonic scales can also be utilized creatively by playing them over a dominant chord’s fifth note (known as tritone substitution). This will add an interesting flavor and sound while helping you explore more unconventional tonal relationships between scales.

Pythagoras was the first person to systematically investigate pentatonic scales, although their use had likely existed long before his research. An Ice Age bone flute discovered at Hohle Fels in Germany was tuned to this concept; prehistoric societies most likely understood it. Zoltan Kodaly, Carl Orff and Rudolph Steiner all used this approach in music education methods by encouraging children to play simple tonal instruments containing only pentatonic scales.