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Old 01-04-2013, 03:02 AM   #1
RockAddict311
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Diatonic vs Pentatonic

So I've been mostly messing around with the diatonic scales and ignoring the pentatonic scale. I figured why let those two notes slide when I can play them all!

What is the use in using the pentatonic scale opposed to the diatonic scales? It seems like a large portion of the guitar players out there with no other previous musical experience give the diatonic the shaft. Is the pentatonic more pleasing to the ear? Is it pure lazyness? I was looking around an I came across something about the removed notes producing a degree of dissonance. I have noticed during my playing with the diatonic that some notes seem...somewhat out of place.

*On a second note, when is it appropriate (more pleasing to the ear) to make use of the harmonic and melodic minor scales?
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:52 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by RockAddict311
So I've been mostly messing around with the diatonic scales and ignoring the pentatonic scale. I figured why let those two notes slide when I can play them all!
That gives me a chuckle. It's actually easier to hit a bad note playing a diatonic scale, because it allows certain dissonant intervals to occur more easily
Quote:
Originally Posted by RockAddict311
What is the use in using the pentatonic scale opposed to the diatonic scales? It seems like a large portion of the guitar players out there with no other previous musical experience give the diatonic the shaft. Is the pentatonic more pleasing to the ear? Is it pure lazyness? I was looking around an I came across something about the removed notes producing a degree of dissonance. I have noticed during my playing with the diatonic that some notes seem...somewhat out of place.
Using the full diatonic allow a smoother transition between chords. (smaller steps) The minor second interval (1 semitone) occurs twice in these scales, and one primary function of is to enable suspended chords. Keep in mind that with a 7 note scale, you can build a triad on every degree of that scale, which also expands the harmonic possibilities.

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Originally Posted by RockAddict311
*On a second note, when is it appropriate (more pleasing to the ear) to make use of the harmonic and melodic minor scales?
Not sure about the melodic as it's different ascending and descending, but the harmonic minor scale, (natural 7th), allows the "V" chord of the scale to be a major. In the"natural minor" scale, the "V" (chord formed on the 5th note of the scale), is a minor chord.

As an example, let's look at the key of E minor. E minor is the "tonic" or "I" chord, and in the natural minor the "V" chord is B minor. Bm contains the note "D" "D" is a b7, two semi tones down from the root note E,

When using the harmonic minor scale, the "V" chord becomes B major. B major contains the note "D#" which is a "natural 7th" only 1/2 step below the E root note.

It makes the "V > i" 5th chord to minor tonic "resolution" smoother, but the 1/2 step in the chord change can also be used to introduce a more exotic feel.

I always use really old songs as examples, (sorry about that), but two great examples of the harmonic minor scale in use are, The rolling Stones, "Paint it Black", and Led Zeppelin, "Thank you".

"Paint it Black" is Dm > A7(!) in the verses, (i > V7), and "Thank You" is Bm to E major (i > V again) in the chorus. You can also resolve these chords coming back to the tonic, and in "Paint it Black", the chorus resolves back to the tonic in exactly that way. (A7 to Dm (V7 > i)).

Does any of that help?
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:57 AM   #3
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Maj/Min pentatonics don't have any "avoid notes". The maj pent doesn't have the 4th or 7th, both of which can sound pretty sure if you hit them over the wrong chord or accent them at the wrong time. The minor pent doesn't have the 2nd or 6th, same boat there.

Basically, it's hard to hit bad notes when you're playing the pentatonic version. Idiomatically pentatonic sounds more vocal and has always been integral to blues music, and since most rock developed out of that...it makes sense that it's still in the forefront today.


The harmonic & melodic minor scales are more or less adaptations of the natural minor scale that relate to specific scenarios in a minor key. The harmonic minor exists as a harmonic palette, if you will, to organize the typical occurrence of a V/viiš chord in the minor key - which isn't diatonic. The melodic minor is different in that it features a smoother ascending line up a minor scale with a raised 7th, which avoids the aug2 interval between the b6 and 7 in the harmonic minor scale.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockAddict311
So I've been mostly messing around with the diatonic scales and ignoring the pentatonic scale. I figured why let those two notes slide when I can play them all!

What is the use in using the pentatonic scale opposed to the diatonic scales? It seems like a large portion of the guitar players out there with no other previous musical experience give the diatonic the shaft. Is the pentatonic more pleasing to the ear? Is it pure lazyness? I was looking around an I came across something about the removed notes producing a degree of dissonance. I have noticed during my playing with the diatonic that some notes seem...somewhat out of place.

*On a second note, when is it appropriate (more pleasing to the ear) to make use of the harmonic and melodic minor scales?



Primarily its a sound thing, Pentatonic's yield a certain sound mainly. Not to mention that they have less accidentals so they are easier to use in an improve format (Blues, Jazz). A lot of it is just how American music evolved, pentatonic progressions are one of those "from the slaves" things, so jazz, country, rock, blues, and some metal all lean toward pentatonic progressions.

Classical western composers certainly didn't use pentatonics a hell of a lot, they were all diatonic melodies and progressions.

As to the harmonic and melodic minors? Pleasing is subjective....

I learned them as a means of matching melodies to certain chords and the floating 7ths or 3rds help in that regard, otherwise its just playing with the step intervals. Which can lead to some interesting combinations. I always had a hard time with harmonic minors.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:50 AM   #5
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Why limit your playing in five notes when you can play the seven whenever you want? Nobody's telling you to only play pentatonic. You can decide not to use the two notes if the melodies you want to play only use the notes in the pentatonic scale. Actually, why limit your playing in 7 notes when you can play all the 12 notes whenever you want?

You can play pentatonic licks and then start playing the basic minor scale. And then use accidentals. You don't need to play just one scale.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:42 AM   #6
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It's early here and I'm just going to write a quick thing.
The pentatonic is made of stacked fifths and all the intervals are a major second or minor third (both the easiest intervals to sing and the most pleasing to the human ear, for whatever reason). Having such a stable scale is going to sound good.
The major scale has to minor seconds in it, which i think is the second most dissonant/clashy interval behind the good ol' tritone. therefore, not as stable.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Captaincranky
That gives me a chuckle. It's actually easier to hit a bad note playing a diatonic scale, because it allows certain dissonant intervals to occur more easily
Using the full diatonic allow a smoother transition between chords. (smaller steps) The minor second interval (1 semitone) occurs twice in these scales, and one primary function of is to enable suspended chords. Keep in mind that with a 7 note scale, you can build a triad on every degree of that scale, which also expands the harmonic possibilities.

Not sure about the melodic as it's different ascending and descending, but the harmonic minor scale, (natural 7th), allows the "V" chord of the scale to be a major. In the"natural minor" scale, the "V" (chord formed on the 5th note of the scale), is a minor chord.

As an example, let's look at the key of E minor. E minor is the "tonic" or "I" chord, and in the natural minor the "V" chord is B minor. Bm contains the note "D" "D" is a b7, two semi tones down from the root note E,

When using the harmonic minor scale, the "V" chord becomes B major. B major contains the note "D#" which is a "natural 7th" only 1/2 step below the E root note.

It makes the "V > i" 5th chord to minor tonic "resolution" smoother, but the 1/2 step in the chord change can also be used to introduce a more exotic feel.

I always use really old songs as examples, (sorry about that), but two great examples of the harmonic minor scale in use are, The rolling Stones, "Paint it Black", and Led Zeppelin, "Thank you".

"Paint it Black" is Dm > A7(!) in the verses, (i > V7), and "Thank You" is Bm to E major (i > V again) in the chorus. You can also resolve these chords coming back to the tonic, and in "Paint it Black", the chorus resolves back to the tonic in exactly that way. (A7 to Dm (V7 > i)).

Does any of that help?


Yes and thank you, oldies are the best anyways! Everyone I'd say has been really helpful, minus one of you . I think it's blatantly obvious that I can play accidentals or the entire chromatic scale if I so desire. I don't understand why people come into UG and feel the need to reinstate the whole idea of free will . I look forward to fiddling with the pentatonic scale.

Last edited by RockAddict311 : 01-04-2013 at 12:19 PM.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:58 PM   #8
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Avoid Notes are determined entirely by the chords you're playing over, not the intervals of the scale. If you're playing Am pentatonic and a D major chord comes up, that G is going to sound awful. Even worse over a V7 (ACDEG over E G# B D). Not that such a pattern has no use, but you need to have more than "minor licks" up your sleeve when you playing over dominants.

The pentatonic is nice when you play it over your Tonic key areas - I, vi, and iii - because it's basically a huge arpeggio of the I chord. Compare the notes: Cmaj = C E G (A) ; C pentatonic = C D E G A.

The pentatonic stops working over IV and V, however. Which is fine, because when you're playing over a cadence you really need to emphasize what makes those harmonies different from the Tonic harmony.

Last edited by cdgraves : 01-04-2013 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
Avoid Notes are determined entirely by the chords you're playing over, not the intervals of the scale. If you're playing Am pentatonic and a D major chord comes up, that G is going to sound awful. Even worse over a V7 (ACDEG over E G# B D). Not that such a pattern has no use, but you need to have more than "minor licks" up your sleeve when you playing over dominants.
Which is precisely why oftentimes traditional blues changes the scale to match the chord. (The whole basic concept of sliding the whole pentatonic shape up the neck over your basic; E7 A7, B7 progression.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
The pentatonic is nice when you play it over your Tonic key areas - I, vi, and iii - because it's basically a huge arpeggio of the I chord. Compare the notes: Cmaj = C E G (A) ; C pentatonic = C D E G A.
Agreed. C maj (C, E, G) + D = Cadd9. (C, E, G) + A = C6 (Am7 if you prefer). Still, the avoid intervals aren't present to work with, and it is difficult (*) to hit a bum note because of that.

(*) difficult to practically impossible

Last edited by Captaincranky : 01-04-2013 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:28 PM   #10
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oh yes, I assumed that we were discussing the application of the minor pentatonic to ALL of a songs changes. Which is just silly.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:37 PM   #11
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oh yes, I assumed that we were discussing the application of the minor pentatonic to ALL of a songs changes. Which is just silly.

Some would say "bold", rather than "silly".
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockAddict311
So I've been mostly messing around with the diatonic scales and ignoring the pentatonic scale. I figured why let those two notes slide when I can play them all!

What is the use in using the pentatonic scale opposed to the diatonic scales? It seems like a large portion of the guitar players out there with no other previous musical experience give the diatonic the shaft. Is the pentatonic more pleasing to the ear? Is it pure lazyness? I was looking around an I came across something about the removed notes producing a degree of dissonance. I have noticed during my playing with the diatonic that some notes seem...somewhat out of place.

*On a second note, when is it appropriate (more pleasing to the ear) to make use of the harmonic and melodic minor scales?

TS, a quote I read from Pat Metheny once, said that at any one time over a chord, there are 4 chord tones, 3 scale tones, and 5 chromatic tones.

So when improvising, try to follow the chords by studying your arpeggios. The scale tones will add color, and the chromatic tones will create a sense of tension.

Trying to create a sense of tension and release in your solos and improvisation takes a lot of ear training, and time.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:44 PM   #13
RockAddict311
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Originally Posted by mdc
TS, a quote I read from Pat Metheny once, said that at any one time over a chord, there are 4 chord tones, 3 scale tones, and 5 chromatic tones.

So when improvising, try to follow the chords by studying your arpeggios. The scale tones will add color, and the chromatic tones will create a sense of tension.

Trying to create a sense of tension and release in your solos and improvisation takes a lot of ear training, and time.


Ooo I like your quote. My ear isn't complete shit, but it isn't gold either. I used to try to do everything by ear, but I've found some scale knowledge helpful. Hopefully I can improve the two.

I found the interview: http://hepcat1950.com/pmiv9209.html

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Old 01-04-2013, 04:15 PM   #14
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They have different sounds, you should use them accordingly. I tend to use pentatonic with "extensions" so I guess its a diatonic but it mostly just sounds like pentatonic with other notes mixed in.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
Avoid Notes are determined entirely by the chords you're playing over, not the intervals of the scale. If you're playing Am pentatonic and a D major chord comes up, that G is going to sound awful. Even worse over a V7 (ACDEG over E G# B D). Not that such a pattern has no use, but you need to have more than "minor licks" up your sleeve when you playing over dominants.

The pentatonic is nice when you play it over your Tonic key areas - I, vi, and iii - because it's basically a huge arpeggio of the I chord. Compare the notes: Cmaj = C E G (A) ; C pentatonic = C D E G A.

The pentatonic stops working over IV and V, however. Which is fine, because when you're playing over a cadence you really need to emphasize what makes those harmonies different from the Tonic harmony.

I don't think the G will sound bad over E7 chord (in A minor). It's almost the same as playing b3 over major I chord. That just sounds bluesy. It of course depends on the situation.

And you can also play the G over D major as a sus4 note but you of course have to resolve the sus4 note to major third or something or it will sound pretty bad.

OK, blues is pretty different to a basic minor song. You might not want it to sound bluesy.

But yeah, the point is to listen to the chords you are playing over (of course).
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:40 PM   #16
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I point out the dominants in particular because they're kind of their own animal. I usually take a chordal approach to dominants - chord tones vs tensions. When I play "minor licks" over a dominant I like to use half-step approaches between the pentatonic and chord tones, such as going from G to G# or C# to D (on E7). It's a good way to reference the basic minor pentatonic sound while still expressing the tonality of the V7.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by RockAddict311
Everyone I'd say has been really helpful, minus one of you . I think it's blatantly obvious that I can play accidentals or the entire chromatic scale if I so desire. I don't understand why people come into UG and feel the need to reinstate the whole idea of free will . I look forward to fiddling with the pentatonic scale.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdc
TS, a quote I read from Pat Metheny once, said that at any one time over a chord, there are 4 chord tones, 3 scale tones, and 5 chromatic tones.


You forgot to mention the famous lucky 13 tone Chinese scale, "The Tro Ling Scale".

(I saw-wee, that was mean ).
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