The Pentatonic Scales
In the previous lesson, The Two Must Know Scales For Playing Over Everything, we were introduced to the major and minor pentatonic scales. These are five-note scales that can be applied to loads of different situations due to their lack of dissonant tones. Remind yourself of the shapes we used last time using the notation below:
If you already know anything about modes, you will know that the A minor scale is the relative minor of C major, meaning they are the same scale starting in different places. The pentatonic scales are the same – the A minor pentatonic is the C major pentatonic starting from the 6th.
These ‘modes’ are called pentatonic positions and there are actually five of them. Each pentatonic position starts on a different degree of the pentatonic scale.
The major pentatonic is position one.
The minor pentatonic is position five.
C Major Pentatonic Positions
Let’s take the C major pentatonic scale and look at the notes in each position:
Position One – C D E G A
Position Two – D E G A C
Position Three – E G A C D
Position Four – G A C D E
Position Five – A C D E G
Applying The Theory
A fun way to practice these positions is by playing a simple groove over and over and putting in fills using the different positions. Below is a groove based on a basic C major arpeggio that you can use against the backing track provided. Try repeating the groove for three bars and add in one of the fills below to the last bar. Doing this will allow you to compare the sound of each position so you know how to apply it.
Runs For Each Major Pentatonic Position
C Major Pentatonic Runs On 2 Strings
2 String Runs With Bass Line
C Minor Pentatonic Positions
The minor pentatonic positions are the same as the major ones but position one is the minor pentatonic scale.
Here are the notes of each position in the key of C minor:
Position One – C D Eb G Ab
Position Two – D Eb G Ab C
Position Three – Eb G Ab C D
Position Four – G Ab C D Eb
Position Five – Ab C D Eb G
C Minor Pentatonic Runs
C Minor Pentatonic Runs On 2 Strings
Minor Pentatonic 2 String Runs With Bass Riff