MANUAL

MODAL PENTATONICS

MODAL pentatonics are the opposite of MAJOR/MINOR pentatonic scales in that they are HEMITONIC.
 
That is, they do have semitones.
 

N.B. We have already established that MODES are not SCALES, but MODES of the parent MAJOR or MINOR scale.

Therefore, in the same way, PENTATONIC patterns created from the MODES are not MODAL pentatonic SCALES, rather they should be thought of as simply MODAL pentatonics.

To create a MODAL pentatonic from each of the MAJOR modes, we apply the formula 1-3-4-5-7:

   C IONIAN: C-D-E-F-G-A-B.              C IONIAN pentatonic: C-E-F-G-B.

    F LYDIAN: F-G-A-B-C-D-E.               F LYDIAN pentatonic: F-A-B-C-E.

    G MIXOLYDIAN: G-A-B-C-D-E-F.              G MIXOLYDIAN pentatonic: G-B-C-D-F.

Notice that every MAJOR modal pentatonic made from the C MAJOR scale has the semitones B and F.

To create a MODAL pentatonic from each of the MINOR modes, we apply the formula 1-2-3-5-6:

   D DORIAN: D-E-F-G-A-B-C.           D DORIAN pentatonic: D-E-F-A-B.

   E PHRYGIAN: E-F-G-A-B-C-D.           E PHRYGIAN pentatonic: E-F-G-B-C.

   A AEOLIAN: A-B-C-D-E-F-G.          A AEOLIAN pentatonic: A-B-C-E-F.

Notice that every MINOR modal pentatonic made from the A MINOR scale has the semitones B and F.

Now, the LOCRIAN mode is different – it is neither MAJOR or MINOR and has 2 MODAL pentatonics available:

B LOCRIAN: B-C-D-E-F-G-A.

In the first variant we apply the 1-2-3-5-6 formula:

B LOCRIAN pentatonic (1): B-C-D-F-G.

In the second variant we apply the 1-3-4-5-7 formula:

B LOCRIAN pentatonic (2): B-D-E-F-A.

Notice that both these LOCRIAN modal pentatonics have the semitones B and F.

  • Modal Pentatonics: A way of using pentatonic scales over different modes to create fresh and interesting sounds.
  • Pentatonic Modes: The modes derived from the pentatonic scale by shifting the root note. They are not the same as the modes of the major scale, which have more notes and different names.
  • Relative Pentatonics: The pentatonic scales that match the notes of a given mode. For example, over G Dorian, you can use G, A and D minor pentatonics1.
  • Rules for Modal Pentatonics: To use modal pentatonics, you must follow two rules:
  •  1) The chord progression must be derived from the original mode. 
  • 2) The pentatonic scales must be relative to the original mode.
  • Modal Pentatonics: A New Twist on Old Scales

  • We will explore how to use pentatonic scales in a modal context, creating fresh and interesting sounds with familiar patterns. We will assume that you have some basic knowledge of the major modes and the pentatonic scales. If not, you can check out these lessons first:The main idea of modal pentatonics is to match different pentatonic scales to the modes of the major scale, depending on the notes and chords that are being used. This way, you can bring out the characteristic sound of each mode, while also adding some variety and spice to your pentatonic playing.

  • To do this, we need to understand how pentatonic scales relate to major and minor scales, and how to find the right pentatonic scale for each mode. Here are the main points to remember:A pentatonic scale is a five-note scale derived from a minor scale by omitting the 2nd and 6th degrees. The formula is: I, bIII, IV, V, b7. 

    Using these rules, we can find the suitable pentatonic scales for each mode of the major scale. Here is a table that summarizes the results:

    Mode Formula Chord Pentatonic Scale Notes
    Ionian I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII Maj7 Major pentatonic Same as mode
    Dorian I, II, bIII, IV, V, VI, bVII Min7 Minor pentatonic Same as mode
    Phrygian I, bII, bIII, IV, V, bVI, bVII Min7 Minor pentatonic Up a 4th from mode
    Lydian I, II, III, #IV, V, VI, VII Maj7#11 Major pentatonic Up a 5th from mode
    Mixolydian I, II, III, IV, V, VI, bVII Dom7 Major pentatonic Down a 5th from mode
    Aeolian I, II, bIII, IV, V, bVI, bVII Min7 Minor pentatonic Down a 4th from mode
    Locrian I, bII, bIII, IV, bV, bVI, bVII Min7b5 Minor pentatonic Down a semitone from mode

    As you can see, some modes have more than one pentatonic option, depending on the chord and the sound you want to achieve. For example, over G Dorian, you can play G, A or D minor pentatonic scales, each one highlighting different notes of the mode.

    Pentatonic scales create a modal sound by emphasizing different notes of each mode, while also adding some contrast and movement to the solo. You can experiment with different pentatonic scales and see how they affect the mood and feel of your playing.

    Modal pentatonics are a great way to spice up your pentatonic playing and add some modal flavor to your solos. 

     Have fun and happy jamming!
    A pentatonic scale can be played over a minor scale or chord with the same root, as all the notes are compatible. A pentatonic scale can also be played over a major scale or chord with the same 5th, as the root of the pentatonic becomes the b3 of the major, creating a bluesy sound. For example, A minor pentatonic over D major. chord A pentatonic scale can have different modes, just like any other scale. The most common ones are the major pentatonic (I, II, III, V, VI) and the minor pentatonic (I, bIII, IV, V, b7).

The pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that can be derived from the diatonic scale by omitting two notes. There are two common types of pentatonic scales in Western music: the major pentatonic and the minor pentatonic. Each of these scales can have five modes, depending on which note is used as the tonic. The modes of the pentatonic scale and their functions are as follows:

  • Major pentatonic: This scale has the formula 1-2-3-5-6 and is based on the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth degrees of the major scale. It can be used to create a bright and happy sound over major chords and progressions. The modes of the major pentatonic are:
    • Ionian pentatonic: This is the same as the major pentatonic and is based on the first degree of the major scale. It can be used over the I chord or any major chord in the key. For example, C major pentatonic (C-D-E-G-A) can be used over C, F, or G major chords in the key of C major.
    • Dorian pentatonic: This is based on the second degree of the major scale and has the formula 1-2-4-5-b7. It can be used over the ii chord or any minor chord in the key. For example, D dorian pentatonic (D-E-G-A-C) can be used over D, E, or A minor chords in the key of C major.
    • Phrygian pentatonic: This is based on the third degree of the major scale and has the formula 1-b3-4-5-b7. It can be used over the iii chord or any minor chord in the key. For example, E phrygian pentatonic (E-G-A-B-C) can be used over E, F, or B minor chords in the key of C major.
    • Mixolydian pentatonic: This is based on the fifth degree of the major scale and has the formula 1-2-3-5-b7. It can be used over the V chord or any dominant chord in the key. For example, G mixolydian pentatonic (G-A-B-D-E) can be used over G, C, or D dominant chords in the key of C major.
    • Aeolian pentatonic: This is based on the sixth degree of the major scale and has the formula 1-3-4-5-b7. It can be used over the vi chord or any minor chord in the key. For example, A aeolian pentatonic (A-C-D-E-G) can be used over A, B, or E minor chords in the key of C major.
  • Minor pentatonic: This scale has the formula 1-b3-4-5-b7 and is based on the first, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh degrees of the natural minor scale. It can be used to create a dark and bluesy sound over minor chords and progressions. The modes of the minor pentatonic are:
    • Aeolian pentatonic: This is the same as the minor pentatonic and is based on the first degree of the natural minor scale. It can be used over the i chord or any minor chord in the key. For example, A minor pentatonic (A-C-D-E-G) can be used over A, D, or E minor chords in the key of A minor.
    • Locrian pentatonic: This is based on the second degree of the natural minor scale and has the formula 1-b2-4-b6-b7. It can be used over the vii° chord or any diminished chord in the key. For example, B locrian pentatonic (B-C-D-F-G) can be used over B diminished chord in the key of C major.
    • Ionian pentatonic: This is based on the first degree of the major scale or IONIAN mode and has the formula 1-2-3-5-6. It can be used over the I chord or any major chord in the key. For example, C ionian pentatonic (C-D-E-G-A) can be used over C, F, or G major chords in the key of C major.
    • Dorian pentatonic: This is based on the fourth degree of the natural minor scale and has the formula 1-2-b3-5-b6. It can be used over the iv chord or any minor chord in the key. For example, D dorian pentatonic (D-E-F-A-B) can be used over D, E, or B minor chords in the key of A minor.
    • Phrygian pentatonic: This is based on the fifth degree of the natural minor scale and has the formula 1-b2-b3-5-b7. It can be used over the ii chord or any minor chord in the key. For example, E phrygian pentatonic (E-F-G-B-C) can be used over E, D, or A minor chords in the key of A minor.

You can learn more about the modes of the pentatonic scale from these web pages:

I hope this helps you understand the modes of the pentatonic scale and their functions better. If you want, I can also generate some examples of pentatonic melodies for you. Just let me know which mode and key you prefer. 😊

Using Pentatonic Scales in a Modal Context

Pentatonic scales are versatile and easy to use, but they can also sound boring and repetitive if you play them the same way over every chord. In this article, we will show you how to use pentatonic scales in a more creative and musical way, by applying them to different modes of the major scale.

Modes are variations of the major scale, where each note can be used as the tonic. Each mode has a unique sound and mood, depending on the intervals and chords that are used. For example, the Dorian mode sounds minor and jazzy, while the Lydian mode sounds major and bright.

To use pentatonic scales in a modal context, you need to know which pentatonic scale matches the notes and chords of each mode. This way, you can highlight the characteristic sound of each mode, while also adding some variety and interest to your pentatonic playing.

Here are the main points to remember:

  • A pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that can be derived from the diatonic scale by omitting two notes. There are two common types of pentatonic scales in Western music: the major pentatonic and the minor pentatonic. Each of these scales can have five modes, depending on which note is used as the tonic. The modes of the pentatonic scale and their functions are as follows:

    • Major pentatonic: This scale has the formula 1-2-3-5-6 and is based on the first mode of the major scale. It can be used over major chords and scales with the same root or fifth. For example, C pentatonic over C major or G major.
    • Minor pentatonic: This scale has the formula 1-b3-4-5-b7 and is based on the fifth mode of the major scale. It can be used over minor chords and scales with the same root or fourth. For example, A pentatonic over A minor or D minor.
  • To find the suitable pentatonic scale for each mode of the major scale, you need to follow two rules:

    • The chord progression must be derived from the original mode. For example, if you are playing over a Dorian progression, you need to use pentatonic scales that match the notes of the Dorian mode.
    • The pentatonic scales must be relative to the original mode. This means that they share the same notes as the mode, but start from a different degree. For example, over G Dorian, you can use G, A and D minor pentatonic scales, as they are all relative to the G Dorian mode.
  • Here is a table that summarizes the pentatonic options for each mode of the major scale:

    Mode Formula Chord Pentatonic Scale Notes
    Ionian 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 Maj7 Major pentatonic Same as mode
    Dorian 1-2-b3-4-5-6-b7 Min7 Minor pentatonic Same as mode
    Phrygian 1-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Min7 Minor pentatonic Up a 4th from mode
    Lydian 1-2-3-#4-5-6-7 Maj7#11 Major pentatonic Up a 5th from mode
    Mixolydian 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7 Dom7 Major pentatonic Down a 5th from mode
    Aeolian 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Min7 Minor pentatonic Down a 4th from mode
    Locrian 1-b2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7 Min7b5 Minor pentatonic Down a semitone from mode
  • By using different pentatonic scales over each mode, you can create a modal sound that emphasizes different notes of each mode, while also adding some contrast and movement to your solo. You can experiment with different pentatonic scales and see how they affect the mood and feel of your playing.

Modal pentatonics are a great way to spice up your pentatonic playing and add some modal flavor to your solos. Have fun and happy jamming!