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Fig.1 Understanding Pentatonic Scale Basics.


-The Pentatonic scale consists or 5 notes (tones) per octave.
Hence the name Penta (meaning 5) and Tonic (meaning Tone).

Both the “Major scale” and the “minor scale” have associated pentatonic scales.

The MAJOR Scale:

-The Major Pentatonic Scale (the happy sounding one) uses 5 of the 7 notes from the Diatonic Scale.
The two clashing tones( 4th & 7th) are omitted leaving the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th Tones.
Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do drops the 4th and 7th tones to become Do Re Mi Sol La Do (no Fa or Si).

A Major and Major Pentatonic Scales

Fig.2  The “A Major pentatonic scale” is derived directly from the “A Major scale by omitting the 4th and 7th tones.

The MINOR Scale:

– For the Minor Scale, The 2nd and 6th tones of the Major scale are dropped.
Also, the 3rd and 7th tones are Flattened (lowered a semitone)  More on this shor

A minor and minor Pentatonic ScalesFig.3  The “A minor pentatonic scale” is derived directly from the “A minor scale by omitting the 2nd and 6th.
The Tonic is the most important note in the Pentatonic scale and is used as the Tonal Centre of Lead passages.  It usually begins, ends and 
accentuates the Lead.

“The Sweet Sound Of The Pentatonic Scale”

– The omission of the clashing tones creates a particularly melodic scale.  Any notes of the scale may be harmoniously played in any order or combination, thus making it well suited for lead guitar playing and creative improvising.

Video 1. The “A minor” Pentatonic Scale notes are played over an “Am Chord” First starting on the 1st note and going up 5 notes.  Then starting on the 2nd note and going up 5 notes… etc.  Playing notes in a progressive sequence like this is called “Sequencing” and is a useful skill to have for Lead Improvising.
Notice how all the Am Pentatonic sequences sound good when played with the Am Chord.

-The Pentatonic Scale is used in many styles of music. Mostly in its Major and Minor forms.

-The “Major Pentatonic” scale lends itself well to Country music where the “Minor Pentatonic” scale is used more in Rock and Blues.
However there is a lot of flexibility and creativity in music (nothing is written in stone) and both the major pentatonic scale and the minor pentatonic scale are used in all genres of music.

-The pentatonic scale can be played modally (as is the Diatonic scale) through a series of positions or shapes. The first position is shown in figures 2 and three above.

-Since there are 5 notes there are 5 starting points (or 5 Positions) within the scale. Each beginning on a different note (see Video 1).

The Melodic sounding Pentatonic Scale uses 5 of the 7 notes of the Major (OR Minor) diatonic Scales and that the Minor Pentatonic Scale also Flattens the 3rd and 7th notes of the Major Scale.

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