The 7b9 pentatonic scale - Altered pentatonic scale - Guitar lesson with diagrams

The dominant 7b9 pentatonic scale

What's the 7b9 pentatonic scale

The dominant seven flat ninth (7b9) pentatonic scale belongs to the altered pentatonic scale family ( Please note that there are many altered pentatonic scales depending on which note is altered). The 7b9 pentatonic scale, as its name implies, is an obvious choice when you want to play over a 7b9 chord. Generally, when you want to play over a 7b9 chord you will use the half-whole diminished scale  (1 - b9 - #9 - 3 - #11 - 5 - 13 - b7), the altered scale (1 - b9 - #9 - 3 - b5 - #5 - b7) or a diminished seventh arpeggio (1 - b3 - b5 - bb7) starting from the b2 of the 7b9 chord. However, the dominant 7b9 pentatonic scale is useful when you want to play with a smaller scale while highlighting the b9.

What's the formula for a 7b9 pentatonic scale

The 7b9 pentatonic scale is spelled root (1), minor second (b2) or flat 9 (b9), major third, fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). It is very catchy, funny to play and quite easy to understand. This altered scale is a very good alternative to the half-whole diminished scale.

G Dominant 7b9 pentatonic scale G Ab B D F
Formula 1 b2 (b9) 3 5 b7


Comparison with modes

The 7b9 pentatonic scales can be linked to the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale, the Phrygian dominant mode, which is spelled 1 - b2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7. Indeed, if you leave out the fourth (4) and the minor sixth (b6) you get a 7b9 pentatonic scale.

Phrygian dominant mode 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7
7b9 pentatonic scale 1 b2 3 X 5 X b7


The dominant 7b9 can also be compared to the seriously misunderstood fifth mode of the harmonic major scale called Mixolydian b9 mode. The formula of this mode is 1 - b2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7. Once again if you leave out the fourth (4) and the sixth (6) you get a 7b9 pentatonic scale.

Mixolydian b9 mode 1 b2 3 4 5 6 b7
7b9 pentatonic scale 1 b2 3 X 5 X b7

7b9 pentatonic scales guitar diagrams

7b9 pentatonic scales guitar diagrams

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Last edited: 18/02/2018

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