Pentatonic Scales: How to Avoid Playing the Same Licks Over and Over

author: tommaso.zillio date: 10/16/2013 category: guitar scales and modes
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Pentatonic Scales: How to Avoid Playing the Same Licks Over and Over
Do you like Classic Rock and Blues, but you think that the pentatonic scale is quite limiting for self-expression? After all there rare only 5 notes in it! How much "new" music can be composed with only 5 notes? You'll be surprised. I used to think that the pentatonic scale was the "baby" scale to learn just to have something simple to play before tackling the modal scales. Boy, was I wrong. Even after years and years of playing I'm still finding new and original melodies on the pentatonic scale. Now, of course, I do not want to sidetrack you from learning all your modal scales. I am not even saying that scales are the most important thing to learn (they are not). But sometimes it is important to know how to take a concept (like the pentatonic scale) that has been played and overplayed and STILL be able to take something original out of it. So, how do you do it? Well, there are many ways, and today I am going to share one of them with you. We are going to create a little melodic unity (a "motif") and to "sequence" it through the scale. You can see exactly how to do that by watching the video below. Example TABs in the video.
If you implement this exercise into your practice routine, you will see that in a little time you will start to create new and original licks. This is due to a number of factors, that may not be apparent at first: 1. By doing this exercise you are forced to play a NEW thing every day. This will train your fingers to follow your orders in real time - something that they are not used to. 2. You are also forced to play the notes of the pentatonic in a different order than you are used to. You may not feel this limitation now, but give it a try and tell me if in a couple of weeks you don't feel much more free to "move" in the scale. 3. Finally you are also training your ear. By playing the melodic pattern throughout the scale as shown in the video your ear will learn to recognize the intervals inside the pentatonic scale, with no need of you knowing the names or anything. You will just associate the sound with the fretboard position. Even if you are not thinking consciously that you are training your ear, you will see an improvement when you need to pick up a phrase and play it on your guitar. About the Author: Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for Music Theory applied to Guitar.
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