The minor pentatonic scale is one of the most
talked about and
played scale on the guitar, however little is known of the
pentatonic scale theory.
The minor pentatonic scale shape is usually the first scale
guitar players learn on the guitar. By studying the minor
pentatonic scale's theoretical background the confusion
disappears and many new applications for this versatile scale
Minor pentatonic scale theory fact #1:
The minor pentatonic scale is a five note scale, penta = five.
Since most people are familiar with the major scale i.e., the
re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-Do, we will explain how the minor pentatonic
scale can be derived from the major scale.
Here are the notes of the C major scale:
Every major scale has a relative minor scale, to create the
relative minor scale (also called the natural minor scale or
Aeolian mode), simply play the major scale beginning on the
note of the major scale.
To illustrate the major scale / relative minor relationship,
is a two octave major scale, two octaves means the scale is
played through twice in a continuous ascending sequence.
The relative minor scale for C major is the A minor scale, we
find this by counting up the scale degree numbers and create
new scale from the sixth degree.
C major = C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
A minor = A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A
Even though the a minor scale contains the same notes as the C
major scale it create a different mood. To hear and absorb the
sound of each scale play the chord that relates to the scale
first, then play the scale and finish by playing the chord again.
Here is how that would be played:
C major scale ear training practice.
Play the C major chord, then the C major scale = C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
and finish with a C major chord.
A minor scale ear training practice:
Play the A minor chord, then the A minor scale = A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A
and finish with the A minor chord.
Can you hear the difference? The major chord will sound bright
and cheerful whereas the minor scale will sound darker and
Minor pentatonic scale theory fact #2:
The relative minor scale has two other names (a) the natural
minor (b) Aeolian mode.
Minor pentatonic scale theory fact #3:
To find the notes in a minor pentatonic scale, simply omit the
second and sixth notes of a natural minor scale.
A minor scale =
A minor pentatonic scale =
A - C - D - E - G
1 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 7
So, if we played the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh
notes of a natural minor scale we would be playing the minor
Minor pentatonic scale theory fact #4:
When we omit the second and sixth notes of the natural minor
scale we remove the tension points in the natural minor scale.
The tension points in a natural minor scale exits between the
second and third notes (B-C in our example), and fifth and sixth
notes (E-F in our example).
This helps to explain the popularity of the minor pentatonic
scale, because with the tension points removed it is less likely
for even the inexperienced player to play a "wrong" note.
As you study the minor pentatonic scale theory you will discover
that although you may have played the minor pentatonic scale
fingering pattern on the guitar fretboard countless times, you
may not have been aware of the notes you are playing under your
fingers or in fact why you have been playing these specific
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