#1
I recently discovered something that seems SO basic i just HAD to make sure everybody knew it.
I like to think i have come a long way with theory over the last year of learning, but this has escaped me unfortunately.

One of the basic scales most people learn fairly early in guitar is the Pentatonic scale.
Very basically put, this scale removes the 'avoid' notes to ensure a nice clean lead line (slash style )

If you are playing in the key of C major/A minor, you use the Cmajor/Aminor pentatonic shapes to solo.
This is something a lot of people do and i am willing to bet that most people use this box pattern-


-5--8-
-5--8-
-5-7--
-5-7--
-5-7--
-5--8-

...and that is fine for most purposes. Obviously we all know the intervals are what matters and as long as you play a combination of these notes it doesn't matter-
A Minor Penta
r b3 4 5 b7
A C D E G

C Major Penta
r 2 3 5 6
C D E G A


Now, this really was my limit of knowledge until today.
What nobody told me was that you can build any 3 pentatonic scales from the notes in the major scale which can all be used!

If we just use the minor pentatonics for simplicity (the majors are the same but 3frets higher), you can build the minor pentatonic from each of the 3 minor chords in the key.
In this case you can use D minor penta and E minor penta (along with A that we already knew about)

SO, our 3 minor penta scales are as follows-
A minor penta - A C D E G
D minor penta - D F G A C
E minor penta - E G A B D

Each scale has 1 note that the other 2 don't. I think this is the key, which gives them different sounds.

Even though you all probably knew it....... I DIDN'T, so in future when i am using pentatonics (because they must be used now and then ) i will switch between the 3 different types throughout.

Awesome.
#2
nice, but you also have to realize that theory is also more of a guideline than anything else, and therefore play stuff that sounds good. also, technically you can play any scale over any chord, there are just varying levels of dissonance and obviously some scales will sound much better than others.
#3
I don't really understand the point of using these other pentatonics... cause it's kinda just like building pentatonics out of the modes of the major/minor scale. Of what practical use are they, if you still have those avoid notes?
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
#4
well, you wont really have avoid notes because there are no half steps. Any avoid notes will depend on the chord progression.

The idea is that the 1 note difference opens up slightly more possibilities than before, but more basically, it gives me a very easy visual on where to put my pentatonic patterns in 3 times the places i already knew.
#5
Good job. This was also a bit of a revelation to me a while back. For somebody accustomed to improvisation with the pentatonic scales, it really helps with visualization and staying away from purely scalar lines. The information that I got out of it was that a major key is made up of 3 major chords and each of their relative minor chords (plus the diminished triad). In the key of C major, you have C major, F major, and G major. The relative minor chords of each of those, respectively, are A minor, D minor, and E minor. The intervals between the root notes of the major triads are the same as the intervals between the roots of the minor triads. Now, figure out what you can get from melodic minor, harmonic minor, and harmonic major. By having that kind of knowledge of these scales, it makes it possible to imply different functions of chords, and make your harmony more sophisticated.

Also, if you wanted to economize your movement around the fretboard, you should see which notes you change in order to move from one pentatonic scale to another.
Am pent.: A-C-D-E-G
Dm pent.: D-F-G-A-C
Em pent.: E-G-A-B-D

To move from Am to Dm, change the E to an F.
To move from Am to Em, change the C to a B.
To move from Dm to Em, change the F to an E, and the C to a B.
You can practice switching scales while staying in the same position with this knowledge.

Another thing: if you had to play lead over an Am chord, you could play the Am pentatonic, but you could also focus on the notes of Dm pent. and Em pent. If you wanted to go a bit out you could look at the other keys where Am pentatonic exists: G major and F major.

G major contains the following minor pentatonic scales: Am pentatonic, Bm pentatonic, and Em pentatonic.
F major contains the following minor pentatonic scales: Gm pentatonic, Am pentatonic, and Dm pentatonic.

Just some things to ponder. Enjoy and congratulations on your new understanding.
#6
right.. but that 1 note difference is essentially an avoid note in replace of a non-avoid note in the original pentatonic. You're just applying a pattern which works in relation to a minor scale.. but applying it to different modes of the minor pentatonic scale. I just don't see how that could be of use. If it works for you then by all means, good on you, but I just don't see it.

EDIT: OK.. so basically you're just adding that one note for a little bit of a change up, instead of focusing on say a 7-note scale and thinking about the many notes to use sparingly. I think I understand now. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
Last edited by Thursdae at May 6, 2008,
#7
Quote by Thursdae
I don't really understand the point of using these other pentatonics... cause it's kinda just like building pentatonics out of the modes of the major/minor scale. Of what practical use are they, if you still have those avoid notes?


The point is to get a different sound.

And its pretty cool to follow the chords with its pentatonic scale.
#8
^^ Obviously... but what I didn't/don't get is why use the pents instead of the whole 7-note scale... since they're each based off of the minor scale and its modes. You're just switching out one note of the starting pent with another note that doesn't quite fit as naturally.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
#9
Quote by Thursdae
^^ Obviously... but what I didn't/don't get is why use the pents instead of the whole 7-note scale... since they're each based off of the minor scale and its modes. You're just switching out one note of the starting pent with another note that doesn't quite fit as naturally.


Yeah, but sometimes you don't always want what is natural. Listen to Jazz
#10
Basiclly if you play the Dmin pentatonic and the E min pentatonic.
You're playing the F note and B note..which had been removed
from the Cmaj/Amin pentatonic.

if you start 1,b3,4,5,b7 from the D note or E note, you'll never hit
the wrong note and you'll harmonize with the b3

anyway, it's as if you're playing the dorian or phygian mode
less two notes. (2,6)

The same apply to the major pentatonic

bascailly you can solo over... let's say A5 all day long using
A whatever mode or scales wheather it's major or minor.
Notice the root and 5 is in the scale wheather it's a major or minor.
Last edited by Ordinary at May 6, 2008,
#11
Quote by Ordinary

anyway, it's as if you're playing the dorian or phygian mode
less two notes.


Ok, that's what I was asking. I understand why you'd want to play different or "out" notes.. I just don't understand why you'd want to limit yourself to only playing one "out" note... simplicity I guess?
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
#12
Quote by Thursdae
^^ Obviously... but what I didn't/don't get is why use the pents instead of the whole 7-note scale... since they're each based off of the minor scale and its modes. You're just switching out one note of the starting pent with another note that doesn't quite fit as naturally.

An avoid note is not a note that you're not allowed to play. It's just a note that you should be cautious with. The universe doesn't explode when you play an F over a C major chord; it might if you do it on a downbeat. Besides, music wouldn't be nearly as interesting if there was no dissonance. Contrary to popular opinion, Bach had some notes in his music that some music theoreticians would call just plain wrong, but he makes them sound good in the way that he places them in the music.

As an improviser, it's always a good idea to have another approach ready when you run out of ideas with one approach. And if someone has more ideas using just the 5 notes of the pentatonic scales than with the entire diatonic scale, why begrudge them their knowledge.
#14
Quote by titopuente
An avoid note is not a note that you're not allowed to play. It's just a note that you should be cautious with. The universe doesn't explode when you play an F over a C major chord; it might if you do it on a downbeat. Besides, music wouldn't be nearly as interesting if there was no dissonance. Contrary to popular opinion, Bach had some notes in his music that some music theoreticians would call just plain wrong, but he makes them sound good in the way that he places them in the music.

As an improviser, it's always a good idea to have another approach ready when you run out of ideas with one approach. And if someone has more ideas using just the 5 notes of the pentatonic scales than with the entire diatonic scale, why begrudge them their knowledge.


Had you read my post... I asked, essentially, why one would limit themselves to just one avoid note (yes.. I know what an avoid note is), instead of the 7 notes of the mode from which you're deriving the pentatonic. There was no begrudging going on.. just wondering why one would limit themselves like that, unless of course, I had misunderstood the post.. in which case I'd like to understand it fully.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
#15
Sometime I use it to change keys during a song becuase it dosn't totally
define a mode.

kind of like I'll just use the X5 chord as a backing.
The rythem dosen't totally define the tone. it's gives more freedom
to use different scales without clashing with the backing. The lead
part defines it..per say.

The pentatonic is just an extension of that idea i have.
Last edited by Ordinary at May 6, 2008,
#16
Quote by Thursdae
Had you read my post... I asked, essentially, why one would limit themselves to just one avoid note (yes.. I know what an avoid note is), instead of the 7 notes of the mode from which you're deriving the pentatonic. There was no begrudging going on.. just wondering why one would limit themselves like that, unless of course, I had misunderstood the post.. in which case I'd like to understand it fully.

I didn't see your post until mine was posted. The idea is that if someone isn't completely comfortable using all 7 notes at the same time, they can make things easier on themselves and play with more confidence by simplifying things, which you already mentioned in your post above, which I didn't see before.
#17
Quote by titopuente
I didn't see your post until mine was posted. The idea is that if someone isn't completely comfortable using all 7 notes at the same time, they can make things easier on themselves and play with more confidence by simplifying things, which you already mentioned in your post above, which I didn't see before.


Got it. Thanks for the explanations/clarifications.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
#18
Quote by branny1982

Now, this really was my limit of knowledge until today.
What nobody told me was that you can build any 3 pentatonic scales from the notes in the major scale which can all be used!


I think I've mentioned this in at least a few posts. Maybe you've read them, maybe
not. Sometimes, these things just have to hit you on your own!

I'm not sure if any mentioned this above, but those 3 minor pents -- which are
the minors of the ii, iii and vi, are the relative minors of the 3 major pents
I, IV and V. So, you could say the major scale contains 6 pentatonics. But,
of course they are really 3 pairs of 2 pentatonic modes.
#19
Tito - Thanks for that 1st post, very interesting stuff.

Thursdae - When using pentatonics i just find it so much easier, it's like every note you play sounds better.... this probably reflects my aptitude as a guitarist, but i found having 3 scales to choose from more useful thats all.

EDG - I am sure this information has always been there, but it has hidden from me, just one of the self-taught drawbacks
#20
If I play G maj penta over Gmaj .It won't defind what key I'm actaully in.

If the movement to the next chord is Amin..

Gmaj, Amin...it still dosen't define completly what key I'm in.

it would be the I,II movement or V, VI

So i have an option of playing over the Amin as Dorian or Aeroian
If i wish to define a complete mode.

If the next two chords are Fmaj and Cmaj.
Is the F I or IV ?
Is the C I or V ?
It's not define...the options are open

By leaving out notes here and there..I actually can play more notes
#21
Quote by Thursdae
I don't really understand the point of using these other pentatonics... cause it's kinda just like building pentatonics out of the modes of the major/minor scale. Of what practical use are they, if you still have those avoid notes?

They have been used to create thousands and thousands of licks and songs i think that makes them of practical use.
#22
Quote by /-\liceNChains
They have been used to create thousands and thousands of licks and songs i think that makes them of practical use.


Yeah.. but had you read the rest of the thread you'd know what I really meant... cause that doesn't make them more practical than using the entire mode. Because the modes have been used to create more "licks and songs" than just the pents.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
#24
Quote by Thursdae
Yeah.. but had you read the rest of the thread you'd know what I really meant... cause that doesn't make them more practical than using the entire mode. Because the modes have been used to create more "licks and songs" than just the pents.

The defination of practical is "capable of being put to use or acount"
If something is easier to "put to use" it is more pratical
The pentatonic has less notes and is a simplified scale.
By definition it is more pratical than the full mode.
#25
Quote by /-\liceNChains
The defination of practical is "capable of being put to use or acount"
If something is easier to "put to use" it is more pratical
The pentatonic has less notes and is a simplified scale.
By definition it is more pratical than the full mode.


Now this is just an argument of definition.. you're arguing that practicality means ease of being put to use.. where I'm arguing that it means the possibilities that something can be put to use.. more notes, more possibilities... less notes, easier to use.

It doesn't really matter though, I understand why one would choose to use the pent instead of the full mode, and that essentially is the answer to my question.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
--Wordsworth

last.fm
#27
If we had Gmaj and played Gb min pent over it, would that give you Lydian? Because you'd be treating Gmaj as iv in the key of D.

This was in response to Ordinary's post about this >

If I play G maj penta over Gmaj .It won't defind what key I'm actaully in.

If the movement to the next chord is Amin..

Gmaj, Amin...it still dosen't define completly what key I'm in.

it would be the I,II movement or V, VI

So i have an option of playing over the Amin as Dorian or Aeroian
If i wish to define a complete mode.

If the next two chords are Fmaj and Cmaj.
Is the F I or IV ?
Is the C I or V ?
It's not define...the options are open

By leaving out notes here and there..I actually can play more notes
Last edited by mdc at May 7, 2008,
#29
Yup, this seems like something I'd use when having trouble writing something or during improv, since, despite being pentatonic, it wouldn't have the pentatonic sound(missing the two degrees missing in pentatonics).
#30
Quote by mdc
If we had Gmaj and played Gb min pent over it, would that give you Lydian? Because you'd be treating Gmaj as iv in the key of D.
Well it would be F# and you would call it G Lydian. However, depending on what you play, it may be easy to think of it as playing F#m pent rather than G Lydian, expecially if you're not playing strictly in G Lydian.

I can explain this better if this is confusing.
#31
Hehe, this is something I figured out a little while ago also. I was so excited about it that I also made a topic about it, lol. It seriously is something that you just need to discover yourself, and it makes guitar a lot more fun once you figure it out.

But yeah, using this as a method for constructing solos is no different from using arpeggios to make solos. Just think of the minor pentatonic scales as Xm11 arpeggios (1 b3 4 5 b7) and major pentatonics as X6add9 arpeggios. Sure, you're really just playing in a single key, but it gives you a nice outline of which notes would emphasize which chords better.

I use this method all the time when I'm just improvising over a backing track, or even without one. If you're playing a 12-bar blues improv without backing, you can use the different pentatonic scales to emphasize chord changes much more than you would be able to using only a single pentatonic scale.

One other awesome thing about playing like this is that it also gives you little, easy-to-see chord fragments you can incorporate into your soloing. I love doing that with the 1st position shape for the major pentatonic scale.

And I definitely have to try what titopuente said about borrowing pentatonics from nearby keys, like using the Bm or Gm pentatonic scales over a blues progression in A. I bet that would make some pretty interesting sounds.
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