Learn To Play A Pentatonic Scale
Pentatonic scales are five note scales (hence penta, like pentagon) of which the minor pentatonic has proved to be one of the most widely used on the guitar. For many guitarists it's one of the first stages for soloing as it crops up in so many forms of modern popular music, particularly blues and rock. As you can see then, it is a pretty important scale to learn!
The Sound of the Minor Pentatonic Scale
The Minor Pentatonic starts, like all scales and chords, from a root note (the key note of the chord, for example the root note of an A Minor Pentatonic is A) and uses five notes to reach the next root note an octave higher, unlike a major or minor scale which uses seven notes to reach the next root note an octave higher. Although there are various minor and major pentatonic scaleswithin a given key, the most commonly used one on the guitar is the one that corresponds to the Natural Minor (or Aeolian Mode) that takes its root note from the 6th note of the Major Scale. We noted in the section on the natural minor scale that the major scale has a relative minor which begins on the 6th note of the scale, so in the key of C the minor is A, and in G the minor is E. It is the minor pentatonic that corresponds to this Natural Minor scale that we are mainly concerned with here.
NB: If this is a little unclear read over the page on Natural Minor Scales for a little more information about this.
Have a look at the two scales below:
Here is the Minor Pentatonic Scale in the key of A Minor
Try playing it to see how it sounds and then look at the following Natural Minor Scale also in the key of A Minor
Notice how closely the two scales are related. The first scale, the pentatonic, uses five notes from the low A root note to reach the A an octave higher, whereas the natural minor uses all of the notes in the octave, but both scales are in the same position and use the same fingering. It is important to understand this relationship between the Natural Minor and the Minor Pentatonic. Once again, for more information have a look at the section that discusses the Natural Minor Scale on this site.
Structure of the Minor Pentatonic Scale
The Minor Pentatonic Scale uses scale notes 1, 3, 5, 7 of the Natural Minor Scale. As you see above the A minor pentatonic uses the A,C,D,E and G of the A Natural Minor Scale. Below is a two octave pentatonic scale in the key of A Minor, one of the most commonly used scales in guitar soloing.
Two Octave Minor Pentatonic Scale
The Minor Penatonic Scale played over two octaves forms a starting point for any advancing guitarist wishing to understand solos and improvisation. It is essential learning and its importance cannot be overrated as it is a scale used in abundance in popular music, not only in blues and rock, but also in Jazz, Reggae, Soul and many more styles. Once you have learned and understood this scale you will recognise its usage in literally hundreds of famous songs and solos
This is an essential scale to learn so make sure that you learn it as soon as possible! When you have learned that and you think you are ready try learning the minor pentatonic in other positions on the fretboard.
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