Minor Pentatonic Scale

  Guitar Minor Pentatonic Scale inside Dorian Scale Mode – Right & Left Handed

Guitar Minor Pentatonic Scale inside the Dorian Scale Mode. E Dorian Mode is the 2th (ii) degree of D Ionian (Major) Scale. The Dorian Mode has a Minor 3rd Interval making it a minor sounding mode. The only difference in sound between the Ionian (Major) and the Dorian Mode. The is the Major 3 and Major 7 is moved down a half step to the b3 (Minor 3rd interval) and b7 (Minor 7th Interval).

If you are doing ear training the Dorian Scale Mode can sometimes be mistaken for the Aeolian Minor Mode. Proper ear training helps to hear the subtle difference moving down those half step notes.

Another big confusion with modes in the beginning. The G Ionian (Major) and D Dorian are the same key. Parallel modes played off of the same tonal center, E Ionian (Major) and G Dorian are two different keys.

E Minor Pentatonic Scale (1, b3, 4, 5, b7) inside the Dorian Scale Mode (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7) is missing the 2nd and the 6th Interval to make it Pentatonic. This is one of the more common pentatonic scales used in rock and blues. The E open position gives the scale a lot of unique possibilities to explore hammer and pull off open licks. This position sits right on top of the E (I IV V) (E-A-B) open blues chord progression. Phrasing riffs between rhythm and lead is very common.

E Dorian / Minor Pentatonic w Intervals     Minor Pentatonic Scale inside the Dorian Scale Mode The E Dorian Mode is the 2th (ii) degree of D Ionian (Major) Scale. The Dorian Mode has a Minor 3rd Interval making it a minor sounding mode. The only difference in sound between the Ionian (Major) and the Dorian Mode. The is the Major 3 and Major 7 is moved down a half step to the b3 (Minor 3rd interval) and b7 (Minor 7th Interval). If you are doing ear training the Dorian Mode can sometimes be mistaken for the Aeolian Minor. Proper ear training helps to hear the subtle difference moving down those half step notes. Another big confusion with modes in the beginning. The G Ionian (Major) and D Dorian are the same key. Parallel modes played off of the same tonal center, E Ionian (Major) and G Dorian are now two different keys. E Min Pentatonic Scale (1, b3, 4, 5, b7) inside the Dorian Scale Mode (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7) is missing the 2nd and the 6th Interval to make it Pentatonic. This is one of the more common pentatonic scale used in rock and blues. The E open position gives the scale a lot of unique possibilities to explore hammer and pull off open licks. This position sites right on top of the E (I IV V) (E A B) open chord progression. Phrasing riffs between rhythm and lead is very common.          E Dorian / Minor Pentatoinic w/Intervals Left Handed     E Dorian / Minor Pentatonic w/ Fingers Left Hand

All the above guitar scale diagrams were created with Guitar Analyzer Publisher Edition Software

The E Blues Chromatic Scale Guitar Open String Position

The E Blues Chromatic Scale open string position is a hybrid scale made up of three scales. E Minor Pentatonic, E Blues and E Major 3rd Pentatonic Hybrid Scale. It is Minor Pentatonic Scale with the Major 3rd and Diminished 5th notes added to it. The five chromatic notes with the four half steps make a unique combination of passing tones. A lot of famous country guitar players  utilities this scale.

When playing the E Blues Chromatic Scale the Minor Pentatonic and Blues Scale will be the familiar scales to most guitar players. The Major 3rd is the dissonant note that makes it feel off, especially if it’s resolving to a Minor Chord. Outside chromatic notes work best to the V Chord or in turnarounds in Blues.

Having five chromatic notes also makes an awkward feel when phrasing. The common way to play through them is to not play them in a straight sequence but to traverse with whole steps and whole half steps and then pull off or hammer to the extra half step.

Phrasing passing tone notes in straight chromatic sequence can be done tastefully gliding across the notes fast. The real unique thing with this open fingering position is you have all four fingers lined up to a straight four finger per fret alignment. Having them all backed to a open note position making it easy to play fast alternate open note hammer on and pull offs. This opens up the exploration to many unique guitar open note lick possibilities.

E Blue Chromatic Scale            E Blues Chromatic / Min. Pentatonic            E Blues Chromatic / Blues            E Blues Chromatic / Maj3 Pentatonic

All the above guitar scale diagrams were created with Guitar Analyzer Publisher Edition Software

To prepare you for this article refer to the post categories of Theory and Technique that contain the articles named Fret Finger Placement, Interval Theory, Understanding Major Scale Modes.

This article is about the Minor Pentatonic Scale and how the scale relates to chord harmony. The Penta name stands for 5 notes and this scale was originated from early music cultures in China, Polynesia and Africa. This scale is used in a lot of modern music (Blues, R&B, Rock & Jazz) and it is one of the easiest scales to solo in. The intervals in the scale come from a lot of popular common chords that are used in modern music. It is a wide interval scale made up of (1 whole steps – 3 frets wide) and (1 1/2 steps – 4 fret wide).

I put together a guitar pentatonic scale chart for chord harmony to the five modes of the Minor Pentatonic Scale. This guitar pentatonic scale chart shows the scale to chord interval formulas that match by column for each scale mode degree. The row for the scale mode degree are in Roman Numerals. In music the lower case represents minor and upper case is major. The notes row is each note of the scale. The Minor Pentatonic row is the name of each mode with their interval formula in brackets. Below that on the far left column are all rows for the related chord types. Each column with a chord name and a formula in brackets has a relationship match to the scale formula for that column. This guitar pentatonic scale chart is great way to find chord progression orders for song ideas in the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Below the chart there are scale fingerings, the top ones show the interval formulas for each scale mode with the tonal center (1) having a square. The matching shape fingerings below each shows the fret finger placement numbers in the Finger Per Fret Rule. The chromatic notes not played in the seven note major scale is an outline of the pentatonic scale. This is just like the black keys not played on the piano in the key of C Major (The white keys).

A lot of great guitar players stay in the pentatonic scale in the majority of their guitar solos. They hold out the major scale half step notes only to chord voices that match them. These notes are either played or sometimes bending into the note. A lot of blues and rock riff base song ideas use a pattern of notes used as a rhythm from the pentatonic scale. The pentatonic scale sounds very bland until you use vibrato and bending to give the notes an expressive quality. Rock style pentatonic riffs have a lot of rapid hammer on and pull off sequenced patterns that are played very fast. In the Blues Style the notes are more slowly phrased and articulated. There are some great guitar players that can fit in dynamically phrased fast runs into their blues solos like the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Pentatonic Scale Harmony Chart

 

A Minor Pentatonic Harmony Chart

A Minor Pentatonic Scale Harmony Chart

 

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Here is the A Blues Scale on guitar showing all 6 fingering positions.The A Blues Scale is the Minor Pentatonic Scale with a passing tone (b5 or diminish 5th) note added to it. The A Blues Scale usually works with every position where you would play the pentatonic scale. The added (b5) note gives the sound a very interesting flavor while playing blues solos.

It never hurts to practice the scale and learn all the all fingering positions. This way you know the A Blues Scale all over the guitar fret board and are not just playing one fingering position all the time. Try playing the A Blues Scale at the fifth fret shown in the first scale fingerings below. The next octave scale fingering position is the same as the first one at fret (17) and starts over again after the last fingering.

Next try it in the key of E starting at the open string scale fingering position fret (0) instead of fret (5) and play all the scale fingering positions up & down. Find a blues song in the same key and experiment jamming along in all the these scale fingering positions to get a feel for it. Try it with a slow blues song to make it easier. The song by Stevie Ray Vaughan – Leave My Little Girl Alone is in A and it’s a good one to start with. As an exercise try bending notes with the Interval (5) one note below interval (b5) note up a half step to the (b5) note. The more you master playing the A Blues in all the fingering positions the better you will know your way around the guitar fret board and not get lost hitting a dissonant off note.

          A-Blues021  A Blues Position 2 A Blues Position 3 A Blues Position 4 A Blues Position 5 A Blues Position 6

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Here are some Hybrid scale examples that you can explore with the Guitar Analyzer Software. These scales can created by adding notes or moving notes to the Minor Pentatonic Scale. I’ll start with the adding note scale examples. The first Blues Scale example is a very common scale used in Blues and Rock, the A Blues Scales. This scale is from adding a Passing Tone b5 (Diminished 5th) note to the Minor Pentatonic Scale. The passing tone is the note not related to the notes of the Major Scale Key. Usually passing tones sound a little off when you play them but with this particular scale it has a great sound in most soloing situations were you would be using the Minor Pentatonic Scale.

The next Hybrid Blues Scale is the Blues Chromatic Scale that is created by adding two notes Minor Pentatonic Scale. It not only has the diminished 5th added but also the Major 3rd which is not always a passing tone. The unnatural thing about this scale it has four chromatic half steps in a row. A lot of country style guitar players use this scale and they apply a lot of unique chromatic lick variation to these half step notes in their solos.

The next hybrid blues scale is created by moving instead of adding notes by moving the Minor 3rd of the Minor Pentatonic scale up half step to the Major 3rd Interval. This gives a little bit of a Middle Eastern or Gothic sound. The scale relationship of this scales relates to the Mixolydian Mode the fifth degree of the Major Scale and the Phrygian Major Mode fifth degree of the Harmonic Minor Scale. This scale is used in solos by some Rock and Metal Guitar Players Kirk Hammett, George Lynch and Neal Schon, .

The last hybrid blues scale shown is also another scale from moving a note . This scale is is called the Major 6 Pentatonic Scale created by moving the Minor 7th of the Minor Pentatonic Scale down a half step to the Major 6th. The scale relationship of this scale relates to the Dorian Mode the second Degree of the Major Scale. This scale is used by some jazz and jazz fusion guitar players by artists like Allen Holdsworth, Robin Ford and Frank Gambale.

All the diagrams below can easily be explored in much greater depth within the Guitar Analyzer Software.

                         A Blues Scale - Intervals A Blues ChromIc - Intervals ajor 3 Pentatonic - Intervals A Major 6 Pentatonic - Interval

 

                         A Phrygian Major (HM5) / Maj.3 Pentatonic A Dorian / Major 6 PentIonic A Dorian/Minor Pentatonic Intervals

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Guitar Scale Interval Theory Application

All chromatic guitar scale intervals spaced fret by fret on the guitar have 12 half steps. These are finite parts that make up all scales. Music intervals are like a measurement ruler to measure the distance between notes. We measure the distance between notes in half steps instead of inches like a ruler (Ex.1).

Ex.1) 12 inch Ruler

Instead of 1-12 it’s 1-7 and we have 5 accidental numbers b2, b3, b5, b6, b7 none between 3&4, 7&1 (Ex.2).

Ex.2) Chromatic Interval Ruler

In music scale theory numbers are used for intervals as an easier way to measure the distance of steps between notes in a music scale or chord. If we count higher than 7 we go into the next octave and 1 starts over again as the 1 in the square of this chromatic scale on the guitar scale fret board (Ex.1). This applies to music scale theory and playing scales on guitar. In chord theory harmony we use interval numbers higher than (7) called compound intervals this will be explained later in future lesson.

Every music scale has scale formula (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 is the Major Scale Ex.4), (1, b3, 4, b6, b7 is the Minor 6 Pentatonic Scale Ex. 5) the bordered numbers. The notes in music are taken from the first 7 letters of the alphabet A-G with 5 accidentals that each have with 2 names (increment A to A# sharps & decrement B to Bb flats) C#-Db, D#-Eb, F#-Gb, G#-Ab. There is no accidental notes between B-C, and E-F (Ex.3). This can be a challenge to learn from our old mental habits of how we use letters in the alphabet also as numbers in counting.

The Guitar Analyzer Diagrams below display visually how to understand intervals. Showing dynamically how the scale formula bordered notes overlay the  measuring distance between the notes. This creates an easy way visualize guitar scale shapes to aid guitar players who play by ear.

  Ex.1 A Chromatic Guitar Scale Intervals Ex.3 A Chromatic Guitar Scale Interval Notes Ex.4 A Chromatic / Major - Guitar Scale intervals Ex.5 A Chromatic / Min6 Pentatonic - Guitar Scale Intervals

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The most used blues and rock scales are the Minor Pentatonic Scale  and the Major Pentatonic Scale. The Minor Pentatonic Scale contains the root, flattened third, fourth, fifth and flattened seventh (1, b3, 4,5,b7). The major pentatonic scale has five notes – the root note, the second note, the third, fifth and sixth (1, 2, 3, 5, 6 ). In the key of C the minor pentatonic scale is C Eb F G Bb  and the major pentatonic scale is C D E G A.

The Major Pentatonic Scale is commonly more commonly used to solo in blues and rock solos. To start learning to master soloing using the Minor Pentatonic Scale. We are going to learn to how to play solos over major, minor and dominant chords.

Let’s take a common blues chord progression using the root, fourth and fifth notes of the scale (I, IV, V).  If we are playing a song in the key of C major, the chords are C, F and G major. The minor Pentatonic scales resolves or feels like your playing the right notes, the major pentatonic does not resolve or feel as comfortable until your playing over the V chord G major.

                                                           A Minor Pentatonic Fingers C Major Pentatonic Fingers

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