#1
i'm getting quite ok with the pentatonics, but there's one little thing i want to ask, i guess i got it right but i'm not sure.

When a song is in A, i generally play an Aminor pentatonic over it and it sounds good. Thats the first thing i dont grasp, how can a MINOR scale sound good over a major chord?!?

I know the relative minor of A is F# minor, so i can also play F#minor over this progression, and it also works yet will give me another sound..

am i making sense or am i talking sh*t???
#2
Aminor and Amajor have the same root note, so it can work both ways, though sometimes it wont.
I play guitar.
#3
Ok, this is tough in text but. A song is not in "A", it's either in A minor or major which are different keys with the same root. A minor has the same notes as F# major they just have different root notes (1st note of the scale).
Chord progressions in any key will have a mix of major and minor chords. But if you start on A minor it will sound sad and if you start on F# major it will be happy.

This is very dumbed down because it's hard to explain without a guitar in hand.
#4
The pentatonic scale only has five notes in it, as opposed to the diatonic scale which has seven. Of the five notes in the pentatonic, two are neutral (the root and the perfect fifth, in this case A and E.) The perfect fourth, D in this case, is also neutral. The A minor pentatonic doesn't actually contain D, but since D is not major or minor, it won't cause any conflict playing one or the other (note that D is in both the A major AND minor diatonic scales.) The note "B" is also present in both diatonic scales, although it's respective chord has different quality. As a result, there are really only two notes in each pentatonic that wouldn't belong in the opposite key. Now take blues into account: the blues scale basically IS the pentatonic scale with one extra note, and that note also falls into the opposite key. That leaves only one note out of place in either pentatonic, which is easy enough to work with and certainly won't have too much of a negative affect on your sound.
#5
The answer to your question is contained in the fact that thirds in chords (triads) characterize them as a major or minor chords and dominate 7's are magic . Major chords use a third that is two whole steps up from the tonic and the minor third is a half step lower. More on this later.

The A minor and A major scale bear no theoretical relationship to each other in diatonic theory. It's just a coincidence that the pentatonic (five notes of the tonic) of the A minor natural scale can be played over the A major triad. By sheer luck...the five notes of the A minor pentatonic are also contained within the A major scale...except for two notes...the C and the G.

The C is the third in the A minor scale. C# is the third note of the A major scale. When playing the C note contained in the A minor pentatonic over the A major chord it doesn't sound out of place because of an "implied resolution" of the minor third up to a major third. Kinda like how a sus4 major chord wants to "resolve" to that basic major chord. Lot's of theory on why this is but the idea is that a minor chord resolves up to the major chord and not the other way around.

The G note contained in the A minor pentatonic also makes an A major chord into a dominate A7 chord. So...playing the G note in an A minor pentatonic scale over an A major scale picks up the one note that makes an A Maj into an A7.

In a nutshell then...When you play the A minor pentatonic over the A major chord you are playing notes all contained within the A major scale...except for the C and G....which, because the C is a third and therfore the defining note of a triad...and has an implied resolution up to the C#...and because the G note defines a dominate 7 in the key of A....your brain says......"cool".
I read Emerson on the can. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...true...but a consistent reading of Emerson has its uses nevertheless.
Last edited by Zlurgh at May 14, 2011,
#6
If you think long enough...your nutshells will always get smaller.

Forget about F# minor for a sec.

The notes of the A minor pentatonic are A, C, D, E, and G.

The A, D, and E are notes of the A major scale...so they ought to sound right over an A maj.

The C and G need explaining.

An A minor chord written in the key of A resolves to A major. Playing the C note of the A minor pentatonic over the A major chord implies a resolution up to the C# of A major.

G is a dominate 7th in the key of A. Playing the G note within the A minor pentatonic implies a dominate 7th in A maj.
I read Emerson on the can. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...true...but a consistent reading of Emerson has its uses nevertheless.
Last edited by Zlurgh at May 14, 2011,
#7
Quote by stephen_rettie
A major has the same notes as F# minor they just have different root notes (1st note of the scale).


fixed?
Last edited by greeneyegat at May 14, 2011,
#8
Theory questions generally go in "Musician Talk". To answer your question without going too in depth -

Minor pentatonic sounds good over major progressions because we like the bluesy clash between the minor lead notes and the major key backing.
#9
Absolute's question can't be answered without some "depth", Freepower.
I read Emerson on the can. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...true...but a consistent reading of Emerson has its uses nevertheless.
#10
There's no point talking about things he won't understand. I don't want to bring in the whole #9 thing when he doesn't understand the fact you can't play "in the relative minor".

I do appreciate that you've gone into a bit more detail with your post, and I hope he gets a lot out of it.