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Old 09-09-2014, 04:08 PM   #1
jdawg5600
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Pentatonic Scales - Waiting for the A Ha Moment!

Hey Guys,

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the super friendly folks on here have a better way of explaining pentatonic scales than the numerous YouTube videos/Internet 'research' I've looked up. What I don't understand is that I understand there are 5 different fingering positions of the pentatonic scale but how does this translate to knowing what key you're playing in (A, G, C,D , etc.)

I know starting at the 5th fret on the 6th string and playing shape 1 (5-8, 5-7, 5-7,5-7,5-8, 5-8) this would be the Am pentatonic scale. And if I understand correctly, you can move up on the neck into the other 4 positions and it will still be an Am pentatonic scale.

I guess my main confusion is how do the shapes correlate to the note that the scale is in? If anyone has any documentation that they have found particularly useful, I would greatly appreciate it!

... I'm waiting for the light bulb to go off...
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Old 09-09-2014, 04:24 PM   #2
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The key is the root note. 5th position 6th string is A. Move down 2 frets it's G. Move up two frets it's B. Just like your ABCs. If you start with your pinky on the 5th fret and play exactly the same pattern it's a major Pentatonic instead of a minor.

The A major pentatonic is the same as the F# minor pentatonic except the root is A. That's where the concept of relative minors comes into play. The relative minor of any scale is the same notes three semitones down. So C major has A minor as it's relative minor. The notes in the A minor scale are the same as the notes in the C major scale except the root is different.
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Old 09-09-2014, 04:25 PM   #3
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I am a beginner myself, I've been learning positions and stuff mainly with 'JustinGuitar' and 'MartySchwartz' guitar teaching videos on YT. They cover most of the basic stuff I guess about notes, minor and major scale and how they are useful for rythm guitar and lead as well (solos n stuff).

I can relate with you as I felt this way A LOT when I started learning positions, now I feel this way again just because I'm not sure what next I should learn, I haven't even learned Arpeggios. guess I'll open a thread too ^_^
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Old 09-09-2014, 04:27 PM   #4
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Marty Schwartz is a great instructor. I like him because he will play a rhythm in his videos and give you time to solo over them.
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:48 PM   #5
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by fly135
The key is the root note. 5th position 6th string is A. Move down 2 frets it's G. Move up two frets it's B. Just like your ABCs. If you start with your pinky on the 5th fret and play exactly the same pattern it's a major Pentatonic instead of a minor.

The A major pentatonic is the same as the F# minor pentatonic except the root is A. That's where the concept of relative minors comes into play. The relative minor of any scale is the same notes three semitones down. So C major has A minor as it's relative minor. The notes in the A minor scale are the same as the notes in the C major scale except the root is different.


I'm just going to comment and say that ts didn't even understand how to determine a key or know what a root note is

Do you really think this post is going to mean anything?
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Old 09-09-2014, 06:12 PM   #7
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Ok, so you learned four patterns for the A minor pentatonic scale. What you can do now is just move the patterns along the fretboard to get other minor pentatonic scales.

Let's take the shape you mentioned, as an example. If you move the whole shape up two frets so that your lowest note is now on the 7th fret, you'll get B minor pentatonic. And the same for any shape.
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Old 09-09-2014, 06:30 PM   #8
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The notes in all the 5 positions are the same. It's the same scale but just in different octaves and different parts of the fretboard. A minor pentatonic is just five notes (A, C, D, E, G).

As sickman411 said, if you want B minor pentatonic, you need to move all positions two frets up, so that the "basic shape" starts on the B note on the 7th fret. And if you want E minor penatonic, you have to move all positions 5 frets down.

Use A minor pentatonic in A minor songs. It also works over the basic 12 bar blues in A.

And what does it mean when people say a song is in A minor? It means that your tonic, ie "home chord", is A minor. You can feel a pull towards it. For example if you play Am, Dm and E major chords, you should feel pretty strong pull back to Am. Songs in A minor mostly use notes and chords that fit the A minor scale but you can use all 12 notes in any key (notes that are outside of the key scale are called accidentals - there are five accidentals in every key because there are 7 notes that belong to the key). It's all about learning their sound and learning how to use them all. But you can make great music with just five notes. There are lots of good solos that are mostly pentatonic.
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Old 09-09-2014, 08:58 PM   #9
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Boy, those were the days. Being confused on the basics. Now I'm just confused by more complicated things. Thats actually what I love about guitar, music, it truly is a never ending pursuit!

Listen carefully to what these guys wrote they will help you, especially maggera. The positions are just different "areas" of the fret board. the first note you play in position "one" is the root not of the scale. This determines key. Each position just moves up the neck.

The notes are all the same as in first position but when you are in second position they've been moved around because your on a different part of the fret board. Following those positions you will stay in the same key up the fretboard.

If you start the same pattern of notes from "position one" on a different fret you will be in a different key. For example start position one on the third fret and you are playing in G. Continue the other position patterns up the neck and you will remain in the key of G
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Old 09-09-2014, 09:59 PM   #10
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its the same scale just starts on a different note but if u take your tuner all the notes in each position are the same but just played in a different order
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Old 09-10-2014, 12:26 AM   #11
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Since you know the Am pentatonic in one spot on the fretboard I'll use the minor pentatonic to explain how it works.

The minor pentatonic scale is a scale that climbs through an octave using steps of either two semitones or three semitones.

The specific step pattern for the minor pentatonic scale is

Whole+Half Tone -> Whole Tone -> Whole Tone -> Half+Whole Tone -> Whole Tone.

Which equates to
3 semitones -> 2 semitones -> 2 semitones -> 3 semitones -> 2 semitones

Apply this to the chromatic scale from any root note to get your minor pentatonic scale in any key.



In this case we want to use A as our root. Applying this step pattern to the chromatic scale we get the following notes in our Am pentatonic scale.


Now we take our fretboard and find the A notes all over the fretboard...


And we map out the notes that make up the Am pentatonic scale and we are left with the A minor pentatonic scale across the entire fretboard...


We can then break this down into five overlapping patterns that span four or five frets each. This is where your five patterns come from. Learning them is just a way to learn all five shapes across the entire fretboard. (Note that they simply repeat after above the 12th fret)














If you didn't get it the coloured notes are supposed to represent each "shape". The rest of the notes have been left in so you can see how each shape is just a part of the whole and how the shapes overlap.

The third illustration (the middle one) shows the A minor pentatonic pattern that you described in your opening post.

So that's your Am Pentatonic scale and how it can be broken down into five shapes.
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Old 09-10-2014, 12:27 AM   #12
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What about the pentatonic minor scale in other keys?

Well this is part of the reason shapes are useful. The shapes always overlap and lock together in exactly the same way. But if you slide all those shapes up the fretboard one semitone (one fret) then you have A# minor pentatonic. If you slide them all up another fret then you have the B minor pentatonic etc.

Have a look at the pictures below. The first is the A minor pentatonic scale. The second is the C minor pentatonic scale. Notice how the shapes that the notes form on the fretboard are the same with the only difference being that they are three frets apart.

A minor Pentatonic



C minor Pentatonic (same shapes moved up three frets)


You should practice working out different pentatonic scales on paper and mapping them out on your guitar fretboard.

If you find the root note on any string and follow the notes along that same string you'll see the step pattern. 3 semitones - 2 semitones - 2 semitones - 3 semitones - 2 semitones

Try it with the A minor pentatonic on the A string. You start with the open string then go up three frets (one fret = one semitone) then up two frets then two more etc.

You simply apply your scale steps to the guitar fretboard. The tricky part is learning how to move from one string to the next - but that doesn't take too long to get the hang of.

Anyway hopefully the pictures were clear enough and the explanations made enough sense to help you understand whatever it is you were having trouble with.

Peace.

=============
EDIT: Just re read your opening post.

Pay attention to the root note.

In the A minor pentatonic shapes the root note is A. Each of the shapes contains an A note at two different frets.

In the first shape the A notes are on the open A string and the second fret on the G string.
In the second shape the A notes are on the second fret of the G string and the fifth fret of the E strings.
In the third shape the A notes are on the fifth fret of the E strings and the seventh fret of the D string. And on it goes.

The shapes are built around the root notes.

Take those five shapes of the A minor Pentatonic scale and draw each one out on a fret diagram. Instead of A write 1 or R (for Root), instead of C write b3, instead of D write 4, instead of E write 5, instead of G write b7.

It should look something like this for shape 3
Code:
|---|-R-|---|---|b3-| |---|-5-|---|---|b7-| |---|b3-|---|-4-|---| |---|b7-|---|-R-|---| |---|-4-|---|-5-|---| |---|-R-|---|---|b3-|


You just slide it so that the root note lines up with the whatever key you are in and you have the minor pentatonic in that key. This shape has a root note on the E string. The A note on the E string is at the fifth fret. Play this shape so that "R" is at the fifth fret on the E string (the A note) and you have the A minor pentatonic. Play it with the R at the eighth fret on the E string (the C note) and you'll have the C major pentatonic scale.

If you do this for all five shapes then you'll have the five shapes and you'll see where the root notes are in each shape.

Pay attention to how the shapes lock together. Each shape will share a root note with the shape right next to it. They will always lock together in the same way.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdawg5600
Hey Guys,

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the super friendly folks on here have a better way of explaining pentatonic scales than the numerous YouTube videos/Internet 'research' I've looked up. What I don't understand is that I understand there are 5 different fingering positions of the pentatonic scale but how does this translate to knowing what key you're playing in (A, G, C,D , etc.)

I know starting at the 5th fret on the 6th string and playing shape 1 (5-8, 5-7, 5-7,5-7,5-8, 5-8) this would be the Am pentatonic scale. And if I understand correctly, you can move up on the neck into the other 4 positions and it will still be an Am pentatonic scale.

I guess my main confusion is how do the shapes correlate to the note that the scale is in? If anyone has any documentation that they have found particularly useful, I would greatly appreciate it!

... I'm waiting for the light bulb to go off...


Well a Pentatonic minor is a stripped down version of a Natural minor scale. Two degrees are removed, making it easier to play without hitting the sour notes inadvertently.

So if a natural minor, from the root is

R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 and R

Then the pentatonic minor degrees, would be:

R b3 4 5 b7 - 5 notes from the natural minor scale, omitting the 2nd and b6 degrees.

Those notes as you move up the scale in whatever positions youre using are just the same 5 intervals. Over and over and over.

As far as a key, and how you'd use those two things (key and pentatonic) I think you'd have to have developed a way to use your ear to know what the "home" note is. If I'm in the key of Am, and I think the home note is an Ab, clearly, I'm lacking a skill set, that's needed to "hear" a key and where it seems to be "finished", that is, if the song were to end, what pitch sounds "complete"?

If you have that information, then when you apply the scale of that key, it will tend to sound like it fits.

Best,

Sean
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Old 09-27-2014, 12:55 AM   #14
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I know you are just starting out so I would advise you buy a note book and go into any music store and buy a basic beginners book on the Blues which will have all the patterns written out for you already. (Blues you can Use) would be an excellent choice for you (wow I still remember that one lol) as it starts out very basic and will explain a lot of basic theory and have have you ending with early intermediate solos. When guys are saying move up the neck that means you are actually heading towards the 12th fret. I figured I would point that out as most beginners I taught would head towards the nut. You are probably thinking why you would need five shapes that contain the same notes? Well the way the notes are set up in each box will give off different sounding licks.
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Old Yesterday, 02:25 PM   #15
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Hi jdawg

A way to reduce your learning for scales, chords etc is by learning interval shapes on guitar.

When you play a scale on guitar, what you're actually doing is choosing some starting pitch (irrelevant what this pitch is, initially), and you're then laying out other pitches some number of semitones away (above or below) that starting point.

For example, to play the minor pentatonic on one string (this avoids worrying about the effect of string tuning and crossing strings, to keep explanation clearer), use this pattern...

1/ Choose some string and fret (e.g. 6th string (bass), 3rd fret.). This is where you've (or someone) decided to "root" your scale.
2/ Now apply this pattern. Go up 3 frets, then 2 frets, then 2 frets, then 3 frets.
So, we have 3rd fret, then 3+3 = 6th fret, then 6+2 = 8th fret, then 8+2 = 10th fret, then 10 + 3 = 13th fret. Another way to describe this is to say "the scale notes are found 0, 3, 5, 7 and 10 frets above the root".

If you went up another 2 frets, you'd be 12 frets higher than the start, which an octave above the start, and the whole pattern repeats.

Wherever you start, apply this pattern. It just slides up or down the string.

However if you change that pattern, e.g. 0, 3, 5, 6, 10, then you're now playing a different scale type, with different sound to it.

When you play two pitches say 3 frets apart on the same string, the guitar produces two pitches that are 3 semitones apart. If you play a pair of pitches like this anywhere, you'll create the same flavour of sound, just higher or lower. If you play a pair 4 frets apart on same string, you'll get a very different sound. And so on.

Rather than say "play 3 frets apart on same string" or "play two pitches 3 semitones apart", we also say "play two pitches a "minor 3rd" apart ... that is, musicians give names to these various number of semitones.

So, the "correct" names for the pattern above is (1, b3, 4, 5, b7)...

"1" means 0 semitones above start note of scale (i.e. the same note)
"b3" means 3 semitones above start
"4" means 5 semitones above
"5" means 7 semitones above
"b7" means 10 semitones above.

There's only a few such names to learn. More importantly, each of these has a very small number of hand shapes to create these intervals across strings. These can be masterd in probably 5 minutes a day practise over a couple of weeks. The site won't let me upload part of a book I've written. Send me a message with your email and I'll send you a copy.

The point is, once you've learned this, you can avoid the pain of doing everything by note names, and reduce your learning massively. You then just need to be able to find the starting note by name, and everything else by visual hand shape for the intervals. Gradually you'll associate sounds with these interval shapes, making it possible to hear something and then play it, if you know the first note.

Then, as you learn more scales, the effort reduces to remembering the scale's interval makeup(e.g. minor blues scale (1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7), and using your knowledge of interval shapes top reinforce how to find and remember the shape. The same is true for chords, once you understand their interval makeup. (b5 is 6 semitones, 6 frets higher than start note on same string).

Then we start matching up intervals in scales with intervals in chords, to either sound "right" or to deliberately sound "wrong" (by mismatching), e.g. by playing 3 against a b3.

Don't worry ... this stuff is simple. But if you're learning all by note names, you're in for a hard time.



cheers, Jerry

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