The Chemical Composition of the Minor Pentatonic Scale: R, b3, 4, 5, b7, R
The Quintessential Pattern for the Minor Pentatonic Scale: Root on the 6th String
Okay, let's move on to something more fun - the pentatonic scale.
The pentatonic scale, in my mind, is perhaps the most important scale
because it forms the foundation of blues, jazz, and rock-n-roll music.
This scale forms the basis of what most great musicians draw upon.
It is essential to one's musical vocabulary. Period.
By the way: If you haven't read my lessons on intervals,
please do so. You will need to understand "intervallic" terminology to get the most out
of this lesson. By the way, is there anyone out there who knows how to spell the word
"intervallic"? Or is it "intervalic"? Hmmm...
The Chemical Composition of the Minor Pentatonic Scale
A pentatonic scale consists of 5 notes and these 5 notes can be looked
at in many different ways, but for now, let us interpret these notes
as a minor pentatonic scale. More specifically,
let us look at the 5 notes of the A minor pentatonic scale.
The notes are: A, C, D, E, G, A and the
following diagram shows the intervallic relationship between the adjacent notes
of the scale.
can see from the diagram, the distance between the first two notes is a minor 3rd followed by a
major second, another major second, a minor third, and finally, a major 2nd.
A more useful analysis of these notes is to compare each note
in the scale to the root note. Remember, music theory is a language
of comparisons. This language enables us to identify and master sound characteristics
In short, music theory is a map for sound. The better
you know your way around the map, the better you know music and the better you can
communicate musical ideas to other educated musicians with and without your instrument.
So here we go:
A is the root.
C is a minor 3rd above A, we call it the flat 3rd.
D is a perfect 4th above A, we call it the 4th.
E is a perfect 5th above A, we call it the 5th.
G is a minor 7th above A, we call it the flat 7.
Here is a table to make things more visually clear:
Notes in the A Minor Pentatonic Scale:
Now let me show you the most practical and most widely used scale fingering for the minor
pentatonic scale. Millions of guitar solos have been played using this pattern. (It's mark
is on a many Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and B.B. King records for instance. Hell, it's on
every rock-n-roll record known to man.) It is a guitarist's best friend for it is
well suited to the guitar's tuning. That is, the tuning makes the fingerings for all of
the pentatonic patterns very natural and easy to play. Many cool, amazing and beautiful
melodies can be played using this scale. It should be the sharpest tool in your
toolbox if it is not already. (You're a guitar player for Christ's sake!) Master it and
you will soon be wooing women (or men if that is your preference) and turning heads at
parties. Not that this should be your primary motivation for learning this scale, but
let me just say that I am certain this scale has improved my sex life.
So without further ado:
Please Note: Use the first note of the pattern (the root
note on the low E string) as the "frame of reference" note. For instance, if you want to
play a G minor pentatonic scale, start this pattern at the 3rd fret. If you want to play a
Bm pent., start at the 7th fret and so on.
A Final Note:
Here is the same minor pentatonic pattern again, however, the first diagram shows
"note names" instead of fingerings while the other diagram shows "scale degree numbers."