The Pentatonic Scale

Let's say that we don't want to divide the octave into 12 or 7 notes, but prefer 5. Then we are not playing a chromatic or heptatonic scale, but rather a pentatonic scale. There are 2 primary pentatonic scales in American music. These are the Major Pentatonic and the Minor Pentatonic.

The Major Pentatonic

The major pentatonic scale is formed from the root, major second, major third, perfect fifth, and major sixth intervals of the chromatic.

Therefore, in the key of C, the pentatonic is spelled: C-D-E-G-A-C

Here is where these notes are found in our two positions:

C Major Pentatonic Diagram

Weeding out the notes below and after the root note, C, we have the following patterns:

C Major Pentatonic Diagram

Here is the notation for the Major Pentatonic at positions 3 and 8. This includes all the notes at the positions, even those before and after the root notes. The root notes are marked with arrows. Pedal Locations: THE COPEDENT

C Major Pentatonic Notation

Country and rock music relies on heavy use of the major pentatonic scales. As a result, the major pentatonics should be memorized in all positions.

The Minor Pentatonic

The minor pentatonic is formed with the same notes as the major pentatonic, except it starts on the last note of the scale.

So if the C major pentatonic is: C-D-E-G-A-C,

the A minor pentatonic is spelled: A-C-D-E-G-A.

Because the minor pentatonic comprises the same notes as the major pentatonic, its notes are found in the same location as the major pentatonic. The only thing that changes is the root note of the scale. Here are the two locations of the A Minor Pentatonic:

A Minor Pentatonic Diagram

The notation for all the notes of these two postions looks like this.

A Minor Pentatonic Notation

The root notes are marked with arrows.

There are hundreds of other pentatonic scales, but these two are the most frequently used.


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