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> The Major Pentatonic Scale
Andrew Cockburn
post Jul 6 2007, 12:01 AM
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The Major Pentatonic Scale



Introduction

Our next scale is the Major Pentatonic scale. Closely related to the Minor Pentatonic scale, it can be regarded as a Minor scale with a couple of notes missing.

The Major Pentatonic Scale

The Major Pentatonic scale is a 5 note scale, built using the formula: 2 2 3 2 3

Lets have a look at how we would build a scale of G Major Pentatonic. Our root note is G, and building up from the formula we get the following notes:

G + 2 semitones = A
A + 2 semitones = B
B + 3 semitones = D
D + 2 semitones = E
E + 3 semitones = G

Giving us the notes G, A, B, D, E, G, and as usual you can apply this formula with any other root note to get the exact scale that you want.

On the Fretboard

How do we play this on the guitar? Well, sticking with our G Major scale, we can construct 5 different boxes, one for each note of the scale.

Here they are:

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I give you the Major Pentatonic scale!

This post has been edited by Andrew Cockburn: Jul 9 2007, 06:25 PM


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redwing
post Jul 9 2007, 05:59 PM
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Andrew, Thanks for sharing your knowledge. One question, what's the C# on the 1st string in the fourth example? Shouldn't that be a D? Also, do the different modes of the pentatonic scale have names, like the ionian, dorian, etc. of the diatonic scale? Thanks.

This post has been edited by redwing: Jul 9 2007, 06:16 PM
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Muris Varajic
post Jul 9 2007, 06:07 PM
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QUOTE (redwing @ Jul 9 2007, 06:59 PM) *
Andrew, Thanks for sharing your knowledge. One question, what's the C# on the 1st string in the fourth example? Shouldn't that be a D? Thanks.




Yeah,that should be D,but no big deal cause you figured it out already wink.gif

This post has been edited by muris: Jul 9 2007, 06:08 PM


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Andrew Cockburn
post Jul 9 2007, 06:26 PM
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D'oh Thank guys - fixed now (those dots drive me insane) ...


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sb81
post Jul 9 2007, 06:39 PM
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More Theory, yay!

Andrew, what genres of music does the Major Pentatonic suit well?

Thanks
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Andrew Cockburn
post Jul 9 2007, 07:18 PM
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QUOTE (sb81 @ Jul 9 2007, 01:39 PM) *
More Theory, yay!

Andrew, what genres of music does the Major Pentatonic suit well?

Thanks


Rock man! Aything with a Major feel will work well with Major Pentatonic - I think it has a happy kind of feel to it, and also if you play it right an oriental kind of sound.


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Eat-Sleep-andJam
post Jul 14 2007, 11:44 PM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Jul 9 2007, 10:18 AM) *
Rock man! Aything with a Major feel will work well with Major Pentatonic - I think it has a happy kind of feel to it, and also if you play it right an oriental kind of sound.


Great Great Great. So this G major Pentatonic is the same as minor except the shapes are in a different order, hence the Major sound ?



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Andrew Cockburn
post Jul 15 2007, 12:12 AM
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QUOTE (Eat-Sleep-andJam @ Jul 14 2007, 06:44 PM) *
Great Great Great. So this G major Pentatonic is the same as minor except the shapes are in a different order, hence the Major sound ?
- John


Correct, but don't look at it that way. You can reuse the patterns to save you learning new ones, but don't thik of them as being the same scale. For instance, C major pentatonic box 1 is the same pattern as A minor pentatonic box 2, but you can't compare them becuase one is in the key of C and the other is in the key of A minor (they are in fact modes of each other). Think in terms of the 2 different formulae or you won't fully understand the differece.


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Eat-Sleep-andJam
post Jul 15 2007, 05:21 AM
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Ok Thanks. This is helping so much ! smile.gif



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Jeffrey
post Jul 17 2007, 04:44 PM
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Hey andrew,

First off, I love your lesson on Pentatonic Major scale. I have written some theory down(just some basic stuff.) and I wanted you to look at it and tell me if im right. the way u explain the M Pentatonic is a different from what everyone has been telling me. I've just put together little pieces of everyone's work to get something I can comprehend=P Maybe I can e-mail it to you?


-Jeffrey

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Andrew Cockburn
post Jul 17 2007, 05:09 PM
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QUOTE (Jeffrey @ Jul 17 2007, 11:44 AM) *
Hey andrew,

First off, I love your lesson on Pentatonic Major scale. I have written some theory down(just some basic stuff.) and I wanted you to look at it and tell me if im right. the way u explain the M Pentatonic is a different from what everyone has been telling me. I've just put together little pieces of everyone's work to get something I can comprehend=P Maybe I can e-mail it to you?
-Jeffrey


Sure - I'll PM you my email.


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ReverandFender
post Aug 23 2007, 05:19 AM
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How do I know when to use the Minor Pentatonic or the Major pentatonic.
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Andrew Cockburn
post Aug 23 2007, 05:32 AM
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QUOTE (ReverandFender @ Aug 23 2007, 12:19 AM) *
How do I know when to use the Minor Pentatonic or the Major pentatonic.


You need to pay attention to the key the song is in. If it is in a major key you can use Major Pentatonic (or Major for that matter) if it is in a minor key you can use Minor Pentatonic (or Minor). You can also use Minor pentatonic against a mjor chord progression when you are playing the blues. So the overall answer is that it it is interrelated with what chords are being played. There is a lesson that describes the relationship between chords and scales here.


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ReverandFender
post Aug 25 2007, 04:11 AM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Aug 22 2007, 09:32 PM) *
You need to pay attention to the key the song is in. If it is in a major key you can use Major Pentatonic (or Major for that matter) if it is in a minor key you can use Minor Pentatonic (or Minor). You can also use Minor pentatonic against a mjor chord progression when you are playing the blues. So the overall answer is that it it is interrelated with what chords are being played. There is a lesson that describes the relationship between chords and scales here.


thanks that cleared it up a bit.
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fatstrat
post Sep 2 2007, 03:48 AM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Aug 23 2007, 12:32 AM) *
You need to pay attention to the key the song is in. If it is in a major key you can use Major Pentatonic (or Major for that matter) if it is in a minor key you can use Minor Pentatonic (or Minor). You can also use Minor pentatonic against a mjor chord progression when you are playing the blues. So the overall answer is that it it is interrelated with what chords are being played. There is a lesson that describes the relationship between chords and scales here.



so for instance, say the certain song we are playing is in the key of C, could we still use the same pentatonic scale shown above even though it is in the key of G? the scale that you showed us seems to encompass all major notes of the scale?


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Andrew Cockburn
post Sep 3 2007, 04:20 AM
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QUOTE (fatstrat @ Sep 1 2007, 10:48 PM) *
so for instance, say the certain song we are playing is in the key of C, could we still use the same pentatonic scale shown above even though it is in the key of G? the scale that you showed us seems to encompass all major notes of the scale?


The simple answer is no, you need to make sure that the keys of the song and scale match. In this case, I gave you the boxes for G, if you want to play in C, you need to move the boxes up so that the root notes (marked in beige) are C, not G, i.e. you have to move each box up 5 frets.


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fatstrat
post Sep 3 2007, 04:41 AM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Sep 2 2007, 11:20 PM) *
The simple answer is no, you need to make sure that the keys of the song and scale match. In this case, I gave you the boxes for G, if you want to play in C, you need to move the boxes up so that the root notes (marked in beige) are C, not G, i.e. you have to move each box up 5 frets.


i appreciate the help greatly! one last question that i have would be- can the boxes themselves be interchanged with one another, or will they always remain constant in that order? for example: can box 1 be replaced with box 3?


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Andrew Cockburn
post Sep 3 2007, 06:01 AM
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QUOTE (fatstrat @ Sep 2 2007, 11:41 PM) *
i appreciate the help greatly! one last question that i have would be- can the boxes themselves be interchanged with one another, or will they always remain constant in that order? for example: can box 1 be replaced with box 3?


When you are playing a solo you can pick and choose which box you use at any one time - that givcs some variety to your performance, playing higher and lower phrases. The boxes themselves have to stay exatly where they are shown for that scale (and you can move them as I described in my previous post). If you move them relative to each other they will become different scales (and you can always tell which scale they have become by checking what note the root note in the box is).


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bart m
post Sep 7 2007, 02:41 AM
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ok...let me throw something at ya'

so assuming the first box of the G Minor Pentatonic Box is "Box 1" and the next the next 4 boxes are box 2, box 3, box 4, and box 5 respectively..does that mean there are 5 pentatonic scales for any give root note?

for instance:

Root Note = G in box 1 = G Minor Pentatonic Scale = 3 2 2 3 2 = G Bb C D F G
Root Note = G in box 2 = G Major Pentatonic Scale = 2 2 3 2 3 = G A B D E G
Root Note = G in box 3 = G ???? Scale = 2 3 2 3 2 = G A C D F G(Mixolydian Pentatonic)
Root Note = G in box 4 = G ???? Scale = 3 2 3 2 2 = G Bb C D#(Eb) F G(?????)
Root Note = G in box 5 = G ???? Scale = 2 3 2 2 3 = G A C D E G(G Minor/Major??)

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Andrew Cockburn
post Sep 7 2007, 03:05 AM
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QUOTE (bart m @ Sep 6 2007, 09:41 PM) *
ok...let me throw something at ya'

so assuming the first box of the G Minor Pentatonic Box is "Box 1" and the next the next 4 boxes are box 2, box 3, box 4, and box 5 respectively..does that mean there are 5 pentatonic scales for any give root note?

for instance:

Root Note = G in box 1 = G Minor Pentatonic Scale = 3 2 2 3 2 = G Bb C D F G
Root Note = G in box 2 = G Major Pentatonic Scale = 2 2 3 2 3 = G A B D E G
Root Note = G in box 3 = G ???? Scale = 2 3 2 3 2 = G A C D F G(Mixolydian Pentatonic)
Root Note = G in box 4 = G ???? Scale = 3 2 3 2 2 = G Bb C D#(Eb) F G(?????)
Root Note = G in box 5 = G ???? Scale = 2 3 2 2 3 = G A C D E G(G Minor/Major??)

laugh.gif


Simple answer .... No - they are all the same scale offset by one note smile.gif Keep in mind that for each box the root note moves, and that the formula always starts on the root note, so there is nothing too mysterious going on here as long as you keep that in mind.

Complex answer - you are nibbling around the edges of Pentatonic Modes here, a fascinating concept, but get the regular pentatonic down first!

EDIT : I had to rush the above post and didn't mean to sound dismissive ... modes are a fascinating concept and I have a couple of lessons about them. What you have discovered is that Pentatonic Major is Mode II of the Pentatonic Minor scale, and as you have pointed out there are 3 additional modes. This concept is more often explored with major scales where the same idea gives rise to various mode names you may have heard - Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian.

This post has been edited by Andrew Cockburn: Sep 7 2007, 05:22 AM


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