View Full Version : Pentatonic scales

Jul-30-2007, 10:11pm
I am a new player and have just learned the pentatonic scale for the key of D. Would it be possible to have someone send the tabs for the rest of the Keys.
Thanx Mike

Ken Sager
Jul-30-2007, 11:04pm
Here are a couple in first position




Any Day Now
Jul-30-2007, 11:37pm
Just imagine any open strings as a note that you would have to fret if the nut wasnt fretting it for you and then move the whole pattern up the frets and up and down the strings. Thats the great thing about the mandolin, everything looks the same in any key no matter where you start playing it.

Jul-31-2007, 6:52am
There is more than one pentatonic scale! "Pentatonic" means 5 notes per octave. The above C major pentatonic is C D E G A, 1 2 3 5 6 of the scale and known as major pentonic. The SAME NOTES played from A A C D E G give you 1 b3 4 5 b7 ( measured against A, or heard against an A minor chord) and is known widely as minor pentatonic. It's also the so called "blues box" on guitar which is everyones, first improvisational position.

They are the same scale (same row of notes)... so now you know two if you figure out how to use it/them.

Note Ken's examples give you 12356 over each chord (no, really, do think!) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif The G is also E minor; the A is also F#m.

Another good minor pentatonic is 12b356, which you'd use on situations with minor 6th chords, like most of Django's music and "So What". On D minor it'd be DEFAB. For those of you who love m7b5 chords (and who doesn't har har) you'd use the same scale over Bm7b5 and get BDEFA 1b34b5b7. Woohoo!

Saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi has an entire book on various pentatonic scales which is a real eye opener in terms of how a simple row of notes can fit some complex chords.

Jul-31-2007, 7:15am
You can get them all here (http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/scales/musical-scales.htm).

Jul-31-2007, 9:16am
I just do a scale removing the 4th and the 7th.

Jul-31-2007, 9:50am
Thanx to all the problem has been resolved.

Jul-31-2007, 9:53am
Thanx to all the problem has been resolved.
Those are my favorite words to hear.

Jul-31-2007, 10:11am
recently got into pentatonics too and they are really usefull.

I got quite a lot of usefull info out of Niles Hokannens pentatonics book available from Elderly Instruments (there's a link to the shop on the cafe)

I also find the blues scales played out of the chop chords really handy. It means that whatever chord you are on you have a bluesy bunch of notes at your fingertips in the same place.

I'm still finding it hard to move fluidly through chord changes from one pentatonic scale to the next.

Jul-31-2007, 10:51am
You can get them all here.

Doesn't actually even scratch the surface- not that it's not useful, but as I mentioned, there are many different kinds of pentatonic scales worth knowing http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jul-31-2007, 11:04am
It's not too hard to learn what notes make up a pentatonic scale and then figure out your own patterns.

The major pentatonic is the first one people usually latch on to.

But there are so many cool things you can do with pentatonics. For a simple example have your buddy strum an A minor chord and you play the E minor pentatonic scale. If you do you will not be playing the minor third of the A minor chord as you would if you played the A minor pentatonic or a C major scale.

It's this leaving out of notes or emphasis placed on the color tones of chords that make pentatonics interesting.

For intetesting ideas on how to "displace" pentatonic scales you can check out:

PENTATONIC KHANCEPTS - guitarist Steve Kahn instructs how to play the minor pentatonic against all chord families....I got a lot out of this book

Jerry Bergonzi has a Pentatonic book out too which I've been meaning to pick up. Does anybody have this book and if so any opinions?

Also Ted's jazzmando.com has some theory here (http://jazzmando.com/pentatonic_ffcp.shtml)

Also Niles has a mando book dedicated to Pentatonics.

oops I guess I should read these threads better before posting http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sleepy.gif

Jul-31-2007, 11:40am
Doesn't actually even scratch the surface
Ya gotta walk begore you run. # #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Spell check is my friend. Before.

Jul-31-2007, 12:23pm
Ya gotta walk begore you run.

And before you are begored by too much info- agreed! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Jul-31-2007, 12:26pm
Jerry Bergonzi has a Pentatonic book out too which I've been meaning to pick up. Does anybody have this book and if so any opinions?

Hi Perry- overkill for bluegrass but perfect for jazz!

Jul-31-2007, 1:12pm
So, what is a pentatonic scale anyway?

Is it
1) a simplified major scale1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
a simplified minor scale1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1

2) an arpeggio with a couple of passing tones added in:
1 2 3 #5 6 1 # (major triad +)
1 b3 4 5 b7 1 #(minor triad +)

3) a 5-note chord ....a triad plus two <span style='color:red'>color tones</span> #
1 <span style='color:red'>9</span> 3 5 <span style='color:red'>13(6</span>) 1 #&gt; 1 3 5 <span style='color:red'>6 9</span>
1 b3 <span style='color:red'>11</span> 5 <span style='color:red'>b7</span> 1 &gt; 1 b3 5 <span style='color:red'>b7 11</span>

4) any or all of the above at the same time, depending on the thought process of the player?

Pentatonics can be extracted from any major or minor scale, or mode, with the more common extracted scale degree templates being
1 2 3 5 6 #or 1 3 4 5 7 #(applied to either major or minor scales - eg # 1 2 3 5 6, #or... 1 2 b3 5 b6, or... 1 2 b3 5 6 - or modes of the major and minor scales)

but also
1 2 3 5 7
1 2 4 5 6
1 2 4 5 7
(again, whether a scale degree is flatted or raised depends on the scale/mode it is being generated from)

And you can extract from various non-western ethnic scales if you wish.

If you don't want to think extraction from an existing scale/mode, you can generate one by chromatically altering some pitch degrees of a pentatonic scale you are already using
1 b3 4 5 b7 (minor) pentatonic
to something like:
1 3 4 5 7 # (okinawan major pent)
1 b3 #4 5 7
1 3 #4 5 7 (lydian pent)
1 3 #4 5 b7 (lydian dominant pent)

(Some of the results will end up being the same as if you had extracted from various scales or modes)

So it goes far beyond just the Major Pentatonic, Minor Pentatonic and Blues scale. But, you need to have a handle on those before being able to incoporate chromatic alterations, or superimposing various pentatonics over other chords and chord roots, into your thought processes and playing.

Yeah, I see people ragging on "pentatonics" a lot, but that, to me, just says that they really haven't pushed beyond the basics.

Niles Hokkanen

Jul-31-2007, 1:21pm
Yeah, I see people ragging on "pentatonics" a lot, but that, to me, just says that they really haven't pushed beyond the basics.
Yourself included, if I may, in one of your books where you state something along the lines of Grisman's penchant for pents in his solos, in what I felt was a rather pejorative tone, such as the B part to Waiting on Vassar.

Jul-31-2007, 2:10pm
Hey Alan, I think you are confusing two different things.

While I may have commented on what may be, imo, the overusage of changing pentatonics according to the chord roots (triad arpeggios plus passing tones) and/or scale pattern licks, that doesn't equal my dismissing pentatonics as a valuable resource tool.

There's more to playing off pentatonics that floating off the pentatonic scale (or blues scale) on the I chord while the progression ####sts underneath, or changing pentatonic pitch choice to fit the chord progression (G pentatonic over G chords, C pent over C chords, D pent over D chords). But there are pickers who are under the illusion that that's the extent of what "pentatonic usage" is all about. Maybe they are tired of hearing that stuff, in their own playing or in others', and maybe rightfully so, but that is more about a particular usage, or overusage of one or two ways those scales might be used. That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of more advanced ways of using these things. To paraphase the NRA - "pentatonics don't bore people - too much boring usage of pentatonics bores people."

(The same complaints could be made of mando solos which are made up solely of variations of Monroe chop shape licks and patterns.) #



Jul-31-2007, 2:18pm
OK Niles, you adequately clarified that comment (made long ago in a book I vaguely recall). Thanks.

Btw, saw the S movie - I found it no better (or worse, save the $22 bucks for 2 adults, one student, no popcorn) than sitting down and watching 3 Sunday Night episodes. I laughed though.

August Watters
Jul-31-2007, 7:03pm
But there are pickers who are under the illusion that that's the extent of what "pentatonic usage" is all about.

It's been said here before, but it's worth repeating: pentatonics are also an advanced-level improvisation concept used by contemporary jazz players. But we mandolin pickers are often stuck in a different mindset that says pentatonics are just for beginners.

Ted Eschliman
Aug-02-2007, 10:06am
Yup (http://mandolinsessions.com/aug07/Eschliman.html)...