#1
When would you use a minor pentatonic scale rather than a natural minor scale?
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#2
Whenever you don't want to bother with the II or VI.

Really the minor pentatonic IS the natural minor scale, except you don't use the second or sixth scale degrees.
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#3
When you want the sound of the minor pentatonic, ie you don't want to use the 2nd and 6th tones of the minor scale, for whatever reason that may be.
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#4
What reason would I have for not using the second and sixth tones? I mean, other than "It sounds good".
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#5
Quote by steven seagull
When you want the sound of the minor pentatonic, ie you don't want to use the 2nd and 6th tones of the minor scale, for whatever reason that may be.
Yep. Usually the reason is it's much more accessible harmonically and melodically.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
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#7
Quote by food1010
Whenever you don't want to bother with the II or VI.



To be pedantic, roman numerals refer to chords while arabic numerals refer to scale degrees. You meant Whenever you don't want to bother with the 2 or 6.

Typically people exclude them, because they are the most likely notes in the minor scale to sound dissonant.
#8
Quote by isaac_bandits
To be pedantic, roman numerals refer to chords while arabic numerals refer to scale degrees. You meant Whenever you don't want to bother with the 2 or 6.

Typically people exclude them, because they are the most likely notes in the minor scale to sound dissonant.
Yeah, you're right.
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#9
Quote by GoIrish668
I mean, other than "It sounds good".

Isn't that the only reason??


- for any musical choice you make
Si
#10
Quote by 20Tigers
Isn't that the only reason??

- for any musical choice you make


Maybe 'It's easier to play' would be a reason too...
#11
Quote by 20Tigers
Isn't that the only reason??


- for any musical choice you make



absolutely

Quote by GoIrish668
When would you use a minor pentatonic scale rather than a natural minor scale?



If you're asking whether or not there is a situation where you would use over the other, I would say that in most cases, they are interchangeable. Slightly different shades of the same color. Which you choose is up to your own tastes.

When you want a minor pentatonic sound ....... Use the minor pentatonic scale.


* EDIT.

I should have said that any time natural minor is appropriate..... they are interchangeable. You could use either depending on taste. Obviously there are times when natural minor is not appropriate.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Dec 14, 2009,
#12
If its a standard minor progression then you could use either, and the choice would be down to what sound you wanted.

But there are a lot of progressions that you can use the minor pentatonic over that the natural minor wouldn't work so well over - for example you can use the minor pent over minor modal progressions, as the 'flavour' tones (which are the notes that will differ from the natural minor) of the minor modes are the 2nd and 6th scale degrees, and you'll also find there a bunch of non-diatonic chord progressions which natural minor wouldn't work well over, that you can use the minor pent over.
#13
I use the pentatonic minor scale for soloing and I use the natural minor for progressions and melodies. Then again, you could use the pentatonic minor scale for melodies and the natural minor scale for soloing, it really doesn't matter. I've just found that pentatonics are easier.
Try it out and see if it is easier for you.

Quote by 20Tigers
Isn't that the only reason??


I'm getting sick of the whole "if it sounds good, do it" response in EVERY thread. Yeah, you wouldn't compose something that sounds bad, but isn't that obvious? Does "if it sounds good, do it" actually help anyone?
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[U]      //| \      |       |      [/U]
[U]     | \|_ |     |     .-|      [/U]
      *-|-*    (_)     `-’
        |
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#14
Quote by zhilla
If its a standard minor progression then you could use either, and the choice would be down to what sound you wanted.

But there are a lot of progressions that you can use the minor pentatonic over that the natural minor wouldn't work so well over - for example you can use the minor pent over minor modal progressions, as the 'flavour' tones (which are the notes that will differ from the natural minor) of the minor modes are the 2nd and 6th scale degrees, and you'll also find there a bunch of non-diatonic chord progressions which natural minor wouldn't work well over, that you can use the minor pent over.


+1

I was going to say something like this. The minor pentatonic is more a "generic" minor scale good for almost all situations, but the Aeolian mode (natural minor) works only in certain situations.

If the chord progression was minor, but had a ii chord, then it's not always good to play the minor 6th (because this will clash with the 5th of the ii chord, dorian would be a better choice), but if the chord is ii7b5 then it will work (because this is a chord from the aeolian mode...).

So it's not a case of "minor pentatonic vs natural minor", as the natural minor is only the minor pentatonic with added notes. You should be asking more "Aeolian vs Dorian vs phrygian" etc... The minor pentatonic will work in all these situations, but the modes may not.

When in doubt, use the minor pentatonic.
#15
Diatonic scales have what are sometimes known as "avoid notes"
These are essentially where a half step within the scale creates a minor second interval.

When soloing, depending on the chord progression, these "avoid notes" will be the most troublesome if you are having difficulties with dissonant sounds.

The beauty of the pentatonic scale is that it removes any half steps, therefore giving you not only a simpler note selection, but the most consonant notes.
As you gain skills/knowledge/experience, you will know exactly when to 'dip' back into the minor scale for these "avoid notes", because they needn't be avoided at all times.


Another instance where the pentatonics are used over the minor scale is where you opt to play a different penta to the key you are in. For example if you play Em penta over an Am progression, you get a different sound, although all of the correct notes are in key.
#16
Quote by GoIrish668
When would you use a minor pentatonic scale rather than a natural minor scale?

well for me it depends on the song. if its a minor blues or rock, id still use the pentatonic a lot because it applies more to the music. id probably throw in some minor licks though. i like to use the pentatonic as a "base scale" and add notes to it when i see fit.

some songs just seem to have a more minor feel to them. maybe its more jazzy or a ballad. in those cases, ill use the minor scale more. but again, ill usually build from the pentatonic. a lot of my faster runs is pretty straight pentatonic a la eric johnson.
#17
Quote by 20Tigers
Isn't that the only reason??


- for any musical choice you make


Well, obviously if it sounds good, but if that is the only reason for doing something, then you might as well throw out theory altogether.
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#18
Quote by demonofthenight

I'm getting sick of the whole "if it sounds good, do it" response in EVERY thread. Yeah, you wouldn't compose something that sounds bad, but isn't that obvious? Does "if it sounds good, do it" actually help anyone?

Yeah. It tells people just to write music instead of theory-fapping out a bad song.
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#19
Quote by GoIrish668
When would you use a minor pentatonic scale rather than a natural minor scale?


Listen to the rhythm and tempo in this backing track in A.
This is a case where you would stick to the pentatonic, all the way through.

Now listen to this backing track in B minor. It goes from Bm to Em to Bm to F#m ect.

I find in that case, using the natural minor when the rhythm goes in E or F# would be a good example of when you would use it.

That's the best I can explain it.
#20
Quote by demonofthenight


Does "if it sounds good, do it" actually help anyone?


I believe it does.
shred is gaudy music
#21
Quote by GuitarMunky
I believe it does.


+1

It's the only way I ever learned not having a teacher or internet ect. Trial and error, practice, practice and then more practice.
#22
Quote by GoIrish668
Well, obviously if it sounds good, but if that is the only reason for doing something, then you might as well throw out theory altogether.


But theory never told someone what to play. Theory just names what we play so that its easier to remember, communicate, and use.

Quote by chainsawguitar

So it's not a case of "minor pentatonic vs natural minor", as the natural minor is only the minor pentatonic with added notes. You should be asking more "Aeolian vs Dorian vs phrygian" etc... The minor pentatonic will work in all these situations, but the modes may not.


You use the modes when the progression is modal. There are clear reasons to use aeolian over phrygian or dorian, and that is, that the progression will dictate it.

The minor pentatonic can work over aeolian, phrygian, dorian, or minor progressions. The only really advantage to using it, is that it has no avoid tones, so it will be easier to improvise with.

Other than for easy improvisation, I don't see a use for the minor pentatonic. If I'm playing with the natural minor, I'll go to the notes that I want. Sometimes what I'll be playing won't have the 2 or 6, so it will sound pentatonic, but I was thinking in terms of the natural minor, and just didn't go to those two notes, because they weren't the notes that I thought would sound best.
#23
When I'm trying to sound 'bluesy' I tend to stick more with pentatonic minor. Maybe it's just me, but whenever I try to run into the natural minor scale it stops sounding bluesy.
#24
I Agree with Munky.

Ultimately what you want in ur composition comes down to what sounds good.

There are 3 ways.

You either choose something because it sounds good to you or..

You choose something because it sounds good to someone else (aka pop song writers).

Or a combination of both , which to me are the lucky people that can totally wank and play w/e they like too, and it also appeals to people.

Few examples for the other senses;

-You stare at one girl, but not the other, because one looks better.
-You choose one cologne over the other, because one smells better.
-You choose a hamburger instead of a cheesburger, because one tastes better.
-You do one sport, but not another, because one feels better.


So why should it be any different with music?

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Dec 15, 2009,
#25
My question was, is there any theoretical reason why you would use one over the other. Like if it didn't fit the chord progression or something.
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#26
Quote by GoIrish668
My question was, is there any theoretical reason why you would use one over the other. Like if it didn't fit the chord progression or something.



Do you have a specific situation in mind? Otherwise I would say that in general there is no theoretical reason that you would have to choose one over the other.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Dec 15, 2009,
#27
Quote by xxdarrenxx
You either choose something because it sounds good to you or..

You choose something because it sounds good to someone else (aka pop song writers).

You imply there's a difference?

To use your analogy,

-Most guys generally stare at the more athletic girl, as this is generally what the sheer majority of heterosexual men like
-Most guys would avoid the au de` faeces, you'd be abnormal if you didn't
-Most guys avoid McDonalds in favour of... anything else
-Most guys don't play ice hockey, since they like their teeth where they are at this moment

Okay, the last two were rash generalisations, but you get the point

There's actually not that much "choice" in the world. People use what's convenient and necessary, not what they personally want. My point is, you people should stop with this vague "if it sounds good" and "no rules to music" nonsense and realise that it's actually vague and unhelpful.

So why should it be any different in music?
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[U]        |/     .-.              [/U]
[U]       /|_     `-’       |      [/U]
[U]      //| \      |       |      [/U]
[U]     | \|_ |     |     .-|      [/U]
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#28
Quote by GoIrish668
My question was, is there any theoretical reason why you would use one over the other. Like if it didn't fit the chord progression or something.
Yes. There's a bunch of chord progression where you can use the minor pentatonic which the full natural minor scale wouldn't work over.
#29
Quote by demonofthenight

There's actually not that much "choice" in the world.



Actually, there are lots of choices in the world, and more relevant to the discussion, there are lots of choices an artist can make in regards to their own work.

Quote by demonofthenight

People use what's convenient and necessary, not what they personally want.


This is a generalization and I completely disagree. What an artists does has everything to do with what they "personally want'.


Quote by demonofthenight

My point is, you people should stop with this vague "if it sounds good" and "no rules to music" nonsense and realise that it's actually vague and unhelpful.

So why should it be any different in music?


It's actually not vague at all, and very helpful to those willing to grasp it's meaning.


Quote by zhilla
Yes. There's a bunch of chord progression where you can use the minor pentatonic which the full natural minor scale wouldn't work over.



I would say that this is true in the case where you are using the minor pentatonic "shape" over a dominant chord.

If notes are functioning as minor though (like if you were to play it over a natural minor progression)...... it would be interchangeable with the natural minor scale.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Dec 15, 2009,
#30
My question was, is there any theoretical reason why you would use one over the other. Like if it didn't fit the chord progression or something.


In most situations, where you could use one you could use the other so you'd use one over the other because of the difference in sound, and in most cases despite the name 'natural' you wouldn't use the natural minor, you'd use the harmonic because the V-I, or rather V-i in this case, is just such a stronger resolution. <---(probably the worst sentence I've ever written.)
#31
Quote by demonofthenight
You imply there's a difference?

To use your analogy,

-Most guys generally stare at the more athletic girl, as this is generally what the sheer majority of heterosexual men like
-Most guys would avoid the au de` faeces, you'd be abnormal if you didn't
-Most guys avoid McDonalds in favour of... anything else
-Most guys don't play ice hockey, since they like their teeth where they are at this moment

Okay, the last two were rash generalisations, but you get the point

There's actually not that much "choice" in the world. People use what's convenient and necessary, not what they personally want. My point is, you people should stop with this vague "if it sounds good" and "no rules to music" nonsense and realise that it's actually vague and unhelpful.

So why should it be any different in music?


I don't imply there's a difference, I KNOW there's a difference.

Some people play in their bedroom a solo over a jamtrack for an hour straight.

Most likely not appealing for us, but for the person it probably feels very satisfying.

Other people get a kick purely from people clapping for them when they play live. They might wanna bust out a solo, but stick to a standard chorus to get more feedback.

The third would be people like John Petrucci that does crazy stuff that appeals and is mostly understood only by musicians, but still refrains to writing the occasional "accessible" song like "wither" or the "Sing-a-long" chorus of "the spirit carries on".

About choice..

Off course people have choice, but u just retrofit it in ur own context.

I could stretch it to that people really only want food, sex and sleep.

My sentence was based upon the context on what is available in the world.

Surely compromises are made based on factors like money and the latest "hype", but there's always something out there that they have personal affection with.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Dec 15, 2009,
#32
Quote by GuitarMunky
I would say that this is true in the case where you are using the minor pentatonic "shape" over a dominant chord.

If notes are functioning as minor though (like if you were to play it over a natural minor progression)...... it would be interchangeable with the natural minor scale.
What if you've got a Dorian or Phrygian backing? Even if its just for part of a song, the full natural minor scale wouldn't work - but minor pentatonic would.

Same if you've got a non-diatonic progression - a lot of the time the 2nd and 6th from the natural minor will clash, but the minor pent will work just fine. Obviously, sometimes that won't work either

Sure if you're experience or clever enough you might be able to use the natural minor and avoid the really dissonant notes, or use the natural minor with accidentals, but if you haven't reached the point where you can do that comfortably imo going pentatonic is a pretty good plan most of the time.

Happy to be proved wrong though
#33
Quote by zhilla
What if you've got a Dorian or Phrygian backing? Even if its just for part of a song, the full natural minor scale wouldn't work - but minor pentatonic would.

Same if you've got a non-diatonic progression - a lot of the time the 2nd and 6th from the natural minor will clash, but the minor pent will work just fine. Obviously, sometimes that won't work either

Sure if you're experience or clever enough you might be able to use the natural minor and avoid the really dissonant notes, or use the natural minor with accidentals, but if you haven't reached the point where you can do that comfortably imo going pentatonic is a pretty good plan most of the time.

Happy to be proved wrong though


ofcourse, thats why I specified a "natural" minor progression.

Same concept applies for the other minor type scales.

dorian progression...... dorian + minor pentatonic interchangeable

phrygian progression...... phrygian + minor pentatonic interchangeable


the overall concept is simple. .....

The notes in the minor pentatonic scale will function in the same way as in natural minor (or the other minor scales). one scale "colors" the sound slightly differently than the other. or I like to see them as different shades of the same color.


if you look at the details there are plently of situations where one works but not the other, but that has to do with context.

So IMO the answer to the TS's question is....

what "shade" of minor do you think sounds appropriate?

that's an artists choice.... not a theoretical right or wrong.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Dec 15, 2009,
#34
Cool - I'm not being dim then lol One day I'll stop assuming I must have got it wrong hehe