The major pentatonic scales is one of the most used scales in music. This website explores the many ways that a major pentatonic scale can be used. From simple sequencing to the use with side stepping the major pentatonic is a rich resource for memorable melodies and special techniques.
Pentatonic Scales and Patterns
Most people are familiar with the major pentatonic. In many cases it is one of the first scales you encounter when learning scales for improvisation. Playing major pentatonic in sequences is sometime familiar to students, but usually they have not worked with the six patterns that can be derived from this scale. All six patterns sound great, so make them part of your practice session and play them in all 12 keys. If you want to get a preview of how these six patterns sound, listen to some of the études found on this website to hear them played in one key or via side stepping.
Pentatonic Scales and Approaches to this Website
Depending on your level you may approach this website in different ways. If you are familiar with the major pentatonic the first recommedation is to play the scale in different sequences. For instance the major pentatonic scale patterns below are good sequences to try whenever any of pentatonic scale is appropriate:
This pattern takes the first 3 notes and sequences them ascending and descending. This is one of the most common patterns that any musician uses when playing a major pentatonic. Not only are these patterns fairly easy to play but they are part of the lexicon of patterns used to create great melodies with a major pentatonic scale. They are also excellent tools to help you memorize the major pentatonic scale.
The next patten takes the 1st, 2nd and 5th degrees of a major pentatonic and sequences them ascending and descending. Again a very common way to play a major pentatonic scale
This next pattern uses the 1st, 2nd and 6th degree of a major pentatonic. While less common don’t discount it as something not to use. You can create some very aurally stimulating melodies with the angular configuration
Using the 1st, 3rd and 5th degree of the major pentatonic scale is a common sequence that musicians use when playing a major pentatonic. This is a little harder on the guitar because you are constantly switching strings but it can be a very effective combination.
Using the 1st 5th and 6th degrees of the major pentatonic scale is another more angular combination but can create some very ear catching melodies when used effectively.
Another pattern that is less common is using the 1st, 3rd and 6th degrees of the major pentatonic. These can be very effective if you use three string sweeps on the guitar to work your way through the scale. Other instruments will find this combination fairly easy to play.
Using the 1st 5th and 6th degrees of the major pentatonic is another more angular combination but can create some very ear catching melodies when used effectively.
Pentatonic Scales in All Keys
You of course should learn these patterns in all keys because you never know what key a singer may need for a song. Also later we will be doing side stepping exercises which will require you to know the major pentatonic in all keys.
Don’t forget to take a look at the Pentatonic Pedagogy page. This contains crucial information about pentatonic scales.
Much of the material presented on this website is from the Pentatonic Scale Lexicon Volume One: Major by Bruce Arnold and is used by permission. All rights are reserved on all information found on this website. For visiting this site you will receive a 10% discount on this course when you purchase it. Just use the promo code: lex when checking out via the cart system.