MANUAL

PENTATONIC SCALES

A PENTATONIC scale is a musical scale that has five notes per octave, unlike the more common MAJOR and MINOR scales and their MODES that have seven notes. 

MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic scales are very popular in many genres of music, such as rock, blues, jazz and pop because they are easy to play and sound good over many chords.

Pentatonic scales can be either ANHEMITONIC meaning they do NOT have semitones (half steps), or HEMITONIC, which means that they DO have semitones.

The most commonly used pentatonic scales are the MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic scales, both of which are ANHEMITONIC.

For example:

To make the C MAJOR pentatonic scale, we need to remove the semitones F and B.

The C MAJOR scale = C-D-E-F-G-A-B.

This leaves us with the C MAJOR pentatonic scale: 

C-D-E-G-A.

The formula for ANY MAJOR pentatonic scale in ANY key is to use the: 1-2-3-5-6 degrees of the full MAJOR scale.

A MAJOR pentatonic scale can be used to create melodies and solos over MAJOR chords, as well as some other chord types such as DOMINANT 7th and maj7 chords:

For example, C-E-G-Bb = C7

For example, C-E-G-B = C maj7 

The MAJOR pentatonic scale has a bright and happy sound that works well for many musical genres and styles.

To make the A MINOR pentatonic scale we need to remove the semitiones B and F

The A natural MINOR scale = A-B-C-D-E-F-G.

This leaves us with the A MINOR pentatonic scale:

A-C-D-E-G.

The formula for ANY MINOR pentatonic scale in ANY key is to use the: 1-3-4-5-7 degrees of the full natural MINOR scale.

A MINOR pentatonic scale can be used to create melodies and solos over MINOR chords, as well as some other chord types such as minor 7th and DOMINANT 7th chords of the same root note:

The MINOR pentatonic scale is one of the most commonly used scales in music, especially in genres like blues, rock, and metal. 

The MINOR pentatonic scale has a dark and expressive sound that can create tension and contrast with the underlying chords.

MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic scales are useful for improvising and soloing because they work well over many chords that belong to the same key.

They also avoid dissonance because they do not have any semitones that can clash with the harmony.

MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic scales can be played in different positions and patterns on the guitar fretboard, and they can be combined with other scales or notes to create more variety and expression.

One way to use pentatonic scales is to match the scale with the key of the song.

 For example, if you are playing a song in the key of C MAJOR, you can use the C MAJOR pentatonic scale (C-D-E-G-A) to improvise over it.

Or, if you are playing a song in the key of A MINOR, you can use the A minor pentatonic scale (A-C-D-E-G) to improvise over it.

Another way to use pentatonic scales is to change the scale according to the chord progression.

 For example, if the song has a I-IV-V progression in C MAJOR (C-F-G), you can use the C MAJOR pentatonic scale over the C chord, the F MAJOR pentatonic scale over the F chord, and the G MAJOR pentatonic scale over the G chord.

This creates more contrast and interest in your melody.

FRIENDS OR FOES?

Some people criticize pentatonic scales for being too overused, simple and boring.

However, in fact, both the MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic scales are incredibly versatile and can be used in many genres of music, from blues and rock to jazz and pop. 

They can create catchy melodies, groovy riffs and soulful solos.

 They can also be combined with other SCALES and MODES to create more complex and interesting sounds.

Pentatonic scales are far from being boring or limiting.

In fact, the opposite is true – they are actually very powerful and flexible.

 They allow you to play with confidence and freedom, without worrying about hitting wrong notes or sounding out of tune.

 They also help you develop your ear, technique and your musicality.

 You can improvise, compose and freely experiment with pentatonic scales in endless ways.

Some people might criticize pentatonic scales because they think they are too easy or too common.

 They might think that using pentatonic scales is a sign of laziness or a lack of skill. 

They might even think that “real musicians” should use more “advanced” or “exotic” scales. 

However, pentatonic scales have a long history and cultural significance in many parts of the world and they can be used in many innovative and interesting ways.

 Pentatonic scales are tools that musicians can use to create different effects and moods.

So, don’t let anyone tell you that pentatonic scales are boring or musically limiting!

Many great and highly influencial guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and B.B. King made careers out of playing pentatonics:

Jimi Hendrix: The legendary guitarist was a master of blending blues and rock with his expressive and innovative use of pentatonic scales. 

He often added chromatic notes, bends, slides, and hammer-ons to create his signature sound. 

Eric Clapton: Another hugely influential guitarist who is heavily influenced by blues and pentatonic scales.

 Eric uses the MINOR pentatonic scale to create powerful and emotional solos, as well as the MAJOR pentatonic scale to add brightness and contrast.

– B.B. King: The king of blues guitar, B.B. was a master of using the MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic scales to create soulful and expressive phrases.

 He often used subtle vibrato, bends, and slides to add nuance and dynamics to his playing.

However, having said all of that, pentatonic scales CAN be overused, predictable and boring if they are not used properly.

“THE PENTATONIC TRAP”

 

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One of the commonest pitfalls for guitar players is falling into the “pentatonic trap.” 

The five MAJOR/MINOR pentatonic CAGED “box-patterns” in the diagram above are all simple to learn and easy to play.

However, many “would-be” guitarists rely far too much on the easist one – the G-Em pattern.

This is probably the main reason why many people brand pentatonic scales as overly used and boring.

This pattern, like any others be they CAGED, 3nps or diagonal patterns can be played in ANY key by moving the whole pattern up or down the fretboard. 

While this simple scale formation is very useful for playing blues, rock and other genres, it can also limit your creativity and musical expression if you rely on it too much.

 This “pentatonic trap” can make your solos sound boring, predictable, and repetitive and prevent you from exploring other modes, scales, and techniques that can vastly enrich your playing.

 To avoid this pentatonic trap, you need to vary your phrasings by exploring, experimenting with and using ALL of the CAGED, 3nps and the plethora of diagonal MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic patterns that are mapped out for you in the FRETPAL app.

There are endless possibilities to choose from and there will always be something new and exciting to try out on your guitar.

You will never need worry about your playing being repetitive and boring!

`
One of the commonest pitfalls for guitar players is falling into the “pentatonic trap.” 

The five MAJOR/MINOR pentatonic CAGED “box-patterns” in the diagram above are all simple to learn and easy to play.

However, many “would-be” guitarists rely far too much on the easist one – the G-Em pattern.

This is probably the main reason why many people brand pentatonic scales as overly used and boring.

This pattern, like any others be they CAGED, 3nps or diagonal patterns can be played in ANY key by moving the whole pattern up or down the fretboard. 

While this simple scale formation is very and useful for playing blues, rock, and other genres, it can also limit your creativity and musical expression if you rely on it too much.

PUT THE EXAMPLE IN HERE

 The “pentatonic trap” can make your solos sound boring, predictable, and repetitive and prevent you from exploring other modes, scales, and techniques that can enrich your playing.

 To avoid this pentatonic trap, you need to vary your phrasings by  exploring, experimenting with and using ALL of the CAGED box patterns, 3nps patterns and the plethora of diagonal MAJOR and MINOR pentatonic patterns that are mapped out for you in the FRETPAL app.

There are endless possibilities to choose from and there will always be something new and exciting to try out on your guitar.

No one will ever call your playing repetitive and boring!

THE “L” SHAPE

The answer to the question of whether you can play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord is not a simple yes or no.

If you were to conform strictly to the rules of music theory and harmony, then the answer should be NO.

However, thanks to blues music, the practice of playing a MINOR pentatonic scale over MAJOR chords that share the same ROOT note has become a solid foundation of many forms of modern music.

So, in this case, the answer is YES..

A MAJOR chord consists of three notes: the ROOT, the MAJOR 3rd and the PERFECT 5th.

 A MINOR pentatonic scale consists of five notes: the ROOT, the MINOR 3rd, the PERFECT 4th, the PERFECT fifth, and the MINOR seventh.

Now, If you play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord that shares the SAME ROOT, you will create a contrast between the MINOR 3rd and the MAJOR 3rd, which can sound “bluesy”, funky, or even dissonant, depending on how you use it.

This is one of the most common and versatile techniques in guitar improvisation. 

For example, if you want to play over a C MAJOR chord, you can use the C MINOR pentatonic scale

The MINOR pentatonic scale is easy to memorize and play, as it has the same shape on the fretboard for any root note. 

You can also move the scale down by three frets to swap between MINOR and MAJOR tonality to create different sounds and moods.

For example, if you play the A MINOR pentatonic scale over an A MAJOR chord, you get a dark, bluesy sound.

However, if you move the WHOLE scale pattern down by 3 frets this creates the F# MINOR pentatonic scale.

Now, F# MINOR is the relative MINOR to A MAJOR.

 So, If you start playing the F# minor pentatonic pattern from the 2nd note (A), you will be playing an A MAJOR pentatonic scale, which when played against the A MAJOR chord, will give you a brighter and more cheerful sound. 

Playing a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord is a great way to spice up your guitar solos and add some variety to your playing.

It sounds even better if you swap between MAJOR and MINOR tonalities, and give your audience something more varied and exciting to listen to.

Some people think that blues and rock music sounds too dissonant because they use chords and scales that clash with the conventional rules of theory and harmony. 

But many others think that is precisely what makes them so exciting and expressive! 

Another way to use the MINOR pentatonic scale over MAJOR chords is to play it from the “relative” MINOR of the chord. 

For example, if the chord is C MAJOR, you can play the A MINOR pentatonic scale over it. 

This way, you are using the same notes as the C MAJOR pentatonic scale, but starting from a different point and with a different emphasis.

The A MINOR pentatonic scale – A-C-D-E-G will highlight the ROOT, 3rd, 5th and 6th of the C MAJOR chord creating a C maj6 sound – C-E-G-A, which adds some colour and tension to your melody.

Another way to use the MINOR pentatonic scale over the C MAJOR chord is to play it from a different root than the chord.

You can play the MINOR pentatonic scale that is a 4th above the root note of the MAJOR chord you are playing, this will fit well with many genres such as rock, pop and country.

For example, if you play an E MINOR pentatonic scale over a C MAJOR chord, this creates a C maj7 type of sound:

 The E MINOR pentatonic scale contains the notes E, G, A, B and D, which are respectively the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th of the C MAJOR scale.

This creates a C maj7 sound – C-E-G-B

However, you will notice that the root note C of the C maj7 chord is not present in the E MINOR pentatonic scale.

It does not really matter as the C tonality is there in the underlying chord being played.

 By using these two different MINOR pentatonic scales over the C MAJOR chord, you can create some interesting and varied melodies that go beyond the usual C MAJOR scale or C MAJOR pentatonic scale.

Another example is if you play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord that is a 5th above the root of the scale, you will create a tense 7#9 sound. 

For example, if you play an A MINOR pentatonic scale over an E major chord, you will get an E7#9 sound, which is often used in jazz and blues. 

The bottom line is that you CAN play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord in many different situations.

But you need to be aware of the harmonic implications and the mood you want to create.

 Experiment with different combinations and listen to how they sound.

Keep in mind that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to play music, as long as it sounds good to you and your audience.

PLAYING A MINOR PENTATONIC OVER A MAJOR CHORD

The answer to the question of whether you can play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord is not a simple yes or no.

If you were to conform strictly to the rules of music theory and harmony, then the answer should be NO.

However, thanks to blues music, the practice of playing a MINOR pentatonic scale over MAJOR chords that share the same ROOT note has become a solid foundation of many forms of modern music.

So, in this case, the answer is YES..

A MAJOR chord consists of three notes: the ROOT, the MAJOR 3rd and the PERFECT 5th.

 A MINOR pentatonic scale consists of five notes: the ROOT, the MINOR 3rd, the PERFECT 4th, the PERFECT fifth, and the MINOR seventh.

Now, If you play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord that shares the SAME ROOT, you will create a contrast between the MINOR 3rd and the MAJOR 3rd, which can sound “bluesy”, funky, or even dissonant, depending on how you use it.

This is one of the most common and versatile techniques in guitar improvisation. 

For example, if you want to play over a C MAJOR chord, you can use the C MINOR pentatonic scale

The MINOR pentatonic scale is easy to memorize and play, as it has the same shape on the fretboard for any root note. 

You can also move the scale down by three frets to swap between MINOR and MAJOR tonality to create different sounds and moods.

For example, if you play the A MINOR pentatonic scale over an A MAJOR chord, you get a dark, bluesy sound.

However, if you move the WHOLE scale pattern down by 3 frets this creates the F# MINOR pentatonic scale.

Now, F# MINOR is the relative MINOR to A MAJOR.

 So, If you start playing the F# minor pentatonic pattern from the 2nd note (A), you will be playing an A MAJOR pentatonic scale, which when played against the A MAJOR chord, will give you a brighter and more cheerful sound. 

Playing a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord is a great way to spice up your guitar solos and add some variety to your playing.

It sounds even better if you swap between MAJOR and MINOR tonalities, and give your audience something more varied and exciting to listen to.

Some people think that blues and rock music sounds too dissonant because they use chords and scales that clash with the conventional rules of theory and harmony. 

But many others think that is precisely what makes them so exciting and expressive! 

Another way to use the MINOR pentatonic scale over MAJOR chords is to play it from the “relative” MINOR of the chord. 

For example, if the chord is C MAJOR, you can play the A MINOR pentatonic scale over it. 

This way, you are using the same notes as the C MAJOR pentatonic scale, but starting from a different point and with a different emphasis.

The A MINOR pentatonic scale – A-C-D-E-G will highlight the ROOT, 3rd, 5th and 6th of the C MAJOR chord creating a C maj6 sound – C-E-G-A, which adds some colour and tension to your melody.

Another way to use the MINOR pentatonic scale over the C MAJOR chord is to play it from a different root than the chord.

You can play the MINOR pentatonic scale that is a 4th above the root note of the MAJOR chord you are playing, this will fit well with many genres such as rock, pop and country.

For example, if you play an E MINOR pentatonic scale over a C MAJOR chord, this creates a C maj7 type of sound:

 The E MINOR pentatonic scale contains the notes E, G, A, B and D, which are respectively the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th of the C MAJOR scale.

This creates a C maj7 sound – C-E-G-B

However, you will notice that the root note C of the C maj7 chord is not present in the E MINOR pentatonic scale.

It does not really matter as the C tonality is there in the underlying chord being played.

 By using these two different MINOR pentatonic scales over the C MAJOR chord, you can create some interesting and varied melodies that go beyond the usual C MAJOR scale or C MAJOR pentatonic scale.

Another example is if you play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord that is a 5th above the root of the scale, you will create a tense 7#9 sound. 

For example, if you play an A MINOR pentatonic scale over an E major chord, you will get an E7#9 sound, which is often used in jazz and blues. 

The bottom line is that you CAN play a MINOR pentatonic scale over a MAJOR chord in many different situations.

But you need to be aware of the harmonic implications and the mood you want to create.

 Experiment with different combinations and listen to how they sound.

Keep in mind that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to play music, as long as it sounds good to you and your audience.

PLAYING A MAJOR PENTATONIC OVER A MINOR CHORD

A MAJOR pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that consists of the ROOT, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th degrees of a MAJOR scale. 

For example, the C MAJOR pentatonic scale is C-D-E-G-A.

 A MINOR chord is a triad that consists of the ROOT, MINOR 3rd and PERFECT 5th of a MINOR scale.

 For example, the C MINOR chord is C-Eb-G.

Playing a MAJOR pentatonic scale over a MINOR chord can create some interesting sounds and effects, depending on the context of the music and your intentions. 

However, it is not a common or conventional choice, as it can clash with the harmony and create dissonance. 

The main reason is that the MAJOR 3rd (E) of the C MAJOR pentatonic scale creates a semitone interval ABOVE the MINOR 3rd (Eb) of the C MINOR chord which sounds harsh and unpleasant

As the MAJOR 3rd in the MAJOR pentatonic is above the MINOR 3rd, it is far from easy to resolve this dissonant tension.

Contrast this with when you play the C MINOR pentatonic scale:

 C-Eb-F-G-Bb

over the C MAJOR chord

C-E-G

You still have this MINOR/MAJOR 3rd conflict.

 However, in this scenario, the MINOR 3rd can easily be bent up to the MAJOR 3rd which gives a lovely “bluesy” sound.

There are some situations where playing a MAJOR pentatonic scale over a MINOR chord can work well, such as in blues or jazz music, where dissonance and chromaticism are often used to create expression and variation. 

In these cases, the player usually uses the MAJOR pentatonic scale as a PASSING tone or a temporary embellishment, rather than as a main melodic device.

 The player also needs to have a good sense of timing and phrasing, to avoid sounding out of tune or out of place. 

For example, you can play the C MAJOR pentatonic scale over a C MINOR chord for a brief moment, as long as you resolve it to a more consonant note or scale afterwards.

In conclusion, playing a MAJOR pentatonic scale over a MINOR chord is not a simple or straightforward technique, and it requires careful consideration and skill to pull it off.

 It is not recommended for beginners or for situations where harmony and clarity are important.

 However, it can be an interesting and creative option for more advanced players who want to experiment with different sounds and moods.