Pentatonic Scales

author: CPDmusic date: 05/24/2010 category: for beginners
rating: 8.5 / votes: 6 
Introduction: Hello, and welcome to another lesson by CPDmusic! I got a request to do a lesson on scales, and I figured the most common scales (other than basic major and minor) were the pentatonic scales. This lesson will look at the major pentatonic scale and the minor pentatonic scale. There is a suspended pentatonic scale, and the traditional Japanese In Sen scale is also a pentatonic scale, but due to there rarity, we won't bother looking at them. What Is Pentatonic What is a major PENTATONIC scale in comparison to a plain major scale? Well, let's break it down. First of all, the prefix PENTA- means five. Secondly, TONIC means the first degree of the scale, or the key note. So, by combining PENTA and TONIC, we now realize that PENTATONIC means a five note scale. So, there's you English lesson for today. Anyway, in this lesson, we will play the pentatonic scale up every string, which is two octaves and then some. Major Pentatonic First of all, if you don't fully understand the concept of major and minor, read this. So, the major pentatonic scale, like any other scale, follows a pattern. The pattern of a major pentatonic scale is one tone, one tone, three semitones, one tone, or 2 frets, 2 frets, 3 frets, 2 frets. So, the A major pentatonic scale would look like this:
E||----------------------|---------||
B||----------------------|---------||
G||----------------------|---------||
D||----------------------|---------||
A||------------4----7----|--9------||
E||--5----7--------------|---------||
But, it is more commonly played up all of the strings, because...well...five notes is pretty boring. So, it is more commonly played like this:
E||----------------------|----------------------|------------5----7-----||
B||----------------------|----------------------|--5----7---------------||
G||----------------------|------------4----6----|-----------------------||
D||----------------------|--4----7--------------|-----------------------||
A||------------4----7----|----------------------|-----------------------||
E||--5----7--------------|----------------------|-----------------------||
Now, here's the great thing about pentatonic scales. Unlike standard major and minor scales, to change the key of a pentatonic scale, you simply have to shift all the notes up or down however many frets are needed. For example, a C major pentatonic scale would be this:
E||------------------------|-----------------------|-------------8----10-----
B||------------------------|-----------------------|--8----10----------------
G||------------------------|-------------7----9----|-------------------------
D||------------------------|--7----10--------------|-------------------------
A||-------------7----10----|-----------------------|-------------------------
E||--8----10---------------|-----------------------|-------------------------
Notice how all the notes in the C major pentatonic are 3 semitones higher than those in the A major pentatonic, coincidentally like how C is 3 semitones higher than A. It's really that easy! Minor Pentatonic The minor pentatonic scale follows the same rules for changing keys as the major pentatonic; it just has a different pattern. The pattern for the minor pentatonic scale is three semitones, one tone, one tone, three semitones, or 3 frets, 2 frets, 2 frets, 3 frets. So, the ACTUAL minor pentatonic scale in A would look like this:
E||----------------------|--------||
B||----------------------|--------||
G||----------------------|--------||
D||----------------------|--5-----||
A||------------5----7----|--------||
E||--5----8--------------|--------||
While the COMMON A minor pentatonic would look like this:
E||----------------------|----------------------|------------5----8-----||
B||----------------------|----------------------|--5----8---------------||
G||----------------------|------------5----7----|-----------------------||
D||----------------------|--5----7--------------|-----------------------||
A||------------5----7----|----------------------|-----------------------||
E||--5----8--------------|----------------------|-----------------------||
As I said before, it follows the same key change rule. So, the F minor pentatonic scale, for example, would be:
E||----------------------|----------------------|------------1----4-----||
B||----------------------|----------------------|--1----4---------------||
G||----------------------|------------1----3----|-----------------------||
D||----------------------|--1----3--------------|-----------------------||
A||------------1----3----|----------------------|-----------------------||
E||--1----4--------------|----------------------|-----------------------||
Composition Practice Since I'm that nice, here are some exercises to help practice composing pentatonic scales. (HINT! There is no need to use the pattern and transpose, just take the scales above and change the key!) B MAJOR PENTATONIC G MINOR PENTATONIC D# MINOR PENTATONIC Here are the answers!
B MAJOR
E||----------------------|----------------------|------------7----9-----||
B||----------------------|----------------------|--7----9---------------||
G||----------------------|------------6----8----|-----------------------||
D||----------------------|--6----9--------------|-----------------------||
A||------------6----9----|----------------------|-----------------------||
E||--7----9--------------|----------------------|-----------------------||
 
G MINOR
E||----------------------|----------------------|------------3----6-----||
B||----------------------|----------------------|--3----6---------------||
G||----------------------|------------3----5----|-----------------------||
D||----------------------|--3----5--------------|-----------------------||
A||------------3----5----|----------------------|-----------------------||
E||--3----6--------------|----------------------|-----------------------||
 
D# MINOR
E||--------------------------|--------------------------|
B||--------------------------|--------------------------|
G||--------------------------|--------------10----12----|
D||--------------------------|--10----12----------------|
A||--------------10----12----|--------------------------|
E||--10----13----------------|--------------------------|
 
|--------------10----13------||
|--10----13------------------||
|----------------------------||
|----------------------------||
|----------------------------||
|----------------------------||
Closing Well, that's all for today folks! Now, if you've been keeping up with my lessons, you now know the major scale, minor scale, major pentatonic scale, and minor pentatonic scale. And you if have any lesson requests, let me hear em! Anyway, that's all, so goodbye! Did You Like This Lesson? Check Out My Last Lesson, Harmonizing Melodies. Check Out My Profile. More Lessons Coming Soon!
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