The Minor Pentatonic Scale | Guitar Lesson with Diagrams
What Are Pentatonic Scales?
Pentatonic scales are built with five tones. They are used in all many styles of music. Present in jazz and blues music since their origins, they are the most important scales to master when you start playing guitar. The best known are the major and the minor pentatonic scales but there are many others.
The minor pentatonic scale is the fifth mode of the major pentatonic scale (there are five different modes). It is the first scale to know for a guitarist who wants to explore the wide world of improvisation. Indeed, the minor pentatonic scale very is easy to remember, easy to play and it sounds very good on a modal tune or a jazz blues (listen to Kenny Burrell or Grant Green).
Minor Pentatonic Scale Formula
As its name implies, the minor pentatonic scale is made of five notes ("penta" means "five and tonic means "notes"). Giving the interval pattern Root (1) - minor third (b3) - fourth (4) - fifth (5) - minor seventh (b7).
|A minor pentatonic scale||A||C||D||E||G|
The minor pentatonic scale interval pattern is 1 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b7 whereas the major pentatonic scale formula is 1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6. They have only two chord tones in common, the root (1) and the fifth (5).
The minor pentatonic scale as a relative major which is the major pentatonic scale. Meaning that these two scales are built with the same notes.
The minor pentatonic scale starts on the sixth of the major scale. Conversely, the major scale starts on the b3 of the minor scale.
The two guitar shapes below show the relation between the A minor pentatonic scale and its relative major (C major). As you can see their can be two pentatonic scale in the same pattern. The root note determines the tonality.
The minor blues scale is no more and no less than the minor pentatonic scale with a supplementary note. You need to know that there are three types of minor blues scales depending on the added note. The most used is the minor blues scale with a b5 between the fourth (4) and the fifth (5).
The second type of minor blues scale has a major third (3) between the b3 and the fourth.
The third type has a major seventh (7) between the b7 and the root.
There are many ways to play the minor pentatonic scale on guitar. The most simple is to play it within the space of one octave starting from the root note (R). Ascending and descending.
You see that the diagrams have the lowest root on the sixth, fifth, fourth and third string. Try to play them in all twelve key by associating chords.
Minor Pentatonic Scale | One Octave Shapes
These two guitar neck diagrams show you how to play the minor pentatonic scale within two octaves in order to cover the six strings.
Five Positions of The Minor Pentatonic Scale
The minor pentatonic scale can be learned using what is called "Boxes". Each boxe of the diagram represent a minor pentatonic scale position. This technique is very handy when you want to practice diagonal playing and position shifts.
Basically, minor pentatonic scale are played over minor chord types as : minor (m), minor 7 (m7), minor 11. Here are five examples that show how to mix the minor pentatonic scale with minor seventh chords.
The first lick is based on the A minor pentatonic scale linked to a drop 3 min7 chord.
This second tab uses the D minor pentatonic scale and a drop min7 chord.
D minor pent. with a drop 3 min7 chord with root note on the sixth string.
G minor pentatonic scale with a Gm7 drop 2 voiced with root on the fourth string.
E minor pentatonic with drop 2 Em7 chord.
Here are three exercises showing how the minor pentatonic scale can be used in a major 2 5 1 progression.
In the first example you will play D minor pentatonic scale over the ii chord (Dm7).
As you can hear in the lick below, playing Bb minor pentatonic over G7 outlines interesting altered tones as the b13, b5, #9 and b9.
In this last line Em pentatonic is played over Dm7 in order to highlight the ninth (9), eleventh (11) and thirteenth (13).
Here is a soul, jazz guitar lick using notes from the Bb minor pentatonic scale (Bb - Db - Eb - F - Ab). It starts and ends with a perfect fourth (F-Bb). This lick is taken from the 25 SOUL JAZZ GUITAR LICKS PDF Method
Kenny Burrell | Minor Pentatonic Jazz Blues Licks
Here are 10 easy guitar lines using the C minor pentatonic scale transcribed from Kenny Burrell's guitar solo on "Chitlins con carne" from the album midnight blue.
10 easy Kenny Burrell Jazz Guitar Licks | Chitlins Con Carne | Lesson with Tabs
Boogaloo boogie is one of the most famous tune of Big John Patton jazz, blues organist. It has been recorded by Stanton Moore with guitarist Charlie Hunter on the album "All Cooked Out". The theme contains a repetitive G minor pentatonic line mixed with some rootless dominant seventh chords and chords in fourths.
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Last edited: 10/13/2020