Waking Up The Pentatonics: Pentatonic Applications

In continuing with my series on Pentatonics we will know look at a few basic ways that you can start using this scale immediately. So let's dig in!

First make sure you review the C Major chord scale (Ex. 1) and make sure you are familiar with as many chord forms and the functions of those chords as possible.

The Pentatonic Scale is comprised of 5 notes with this interval structure: Root, Minor 3rd, Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th, Minor 7th and then the Octave. This structure exists within the major scale on the Minor chords of the Major Chord Scale (Ex. 2) Therefore we can start a Pentatonic scale on the ii, iii and vi steps of a Major Scale and on the i, iv and v in Natural Minor Scale.

So for C Major we can use D Minor, E Minor and A Minor Pentatonic Scales not only over those minor chords but over ALL chords from the C Major Key. So in essence these Pentatonic scales are merely embedded into the C Major scale.

Let's take a look at the effect of this concept over a static chord vamp. The backing track is a D Minor chord and we'll start with the Pentatonic on the root note and then move to the Pentatonic a whole step up and then up a fifth. You can hear how superimposing these scales over a static vamp changes the sonic landscape and gives you a different vibe. (Video demo of static applications)

You can then start combining ideas together with the Major scale like in the example TAB that combines A Minor Pentatonic with C Major (Ex. 3). The next line shows how we can combine Aminor, D Minor and the resolve into C Major (Ex. 4).

The next example is using the E minor Pentatonic against a C Major chord. This is like starting an idea on the 3rd of the chord which adds some harmonic development against a major chord. All of these lines are meant for you to hear what the tones of each minor pentatonic sound like in these musical situations. As always I encourage you to come up with your own.



There is certainly more ground to cover with Pentatonics but for now I will leave you with these concepts in hand to work with. Keep practicing!

Joe Pinnavaia is a professional musician, guitarist, instructor and composer from Buffalo, NY, USA.

His first solo release, "InVitro", under the project name Test Tube Rhino, is now available digitally from iTunes and Amazon from Steve Vai's Digital Nations.

Joe Pinnavaia

Send comments or questions to: