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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Question About Using a Scale


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/37779

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Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/27/2014:  16:51:12


I know about pentatonic scales and realize what the advantage is in using it.  I don't network with other fiddlers, so some of the questions I have go unanswered.  O.K., back to the pentatonic scale.  Here is my question.  When you use the pentatonic scale, do you just use it for musical phrases, or for most or all of a tune ?  If you have memorized a tune, and decide to play the tune using the pentatonic scale, what happens to all the 4th and 7th  notes you hear in your head ?  I read comments that the pentatonic scale is great for improvisation.  If you are improvising, things happen fast and you can't mentally rearrange tunes in your head.  At least I can't.



One more thing.  A college trained musician and professional fiddler and I were talking about pentatonic scales.  I asked him if he ever played the 4th and 7th notes when using this scale.  said that  he did.  Then, I asked him if he used them like "accidental" notes.  He hesitated a short time, and then said "yes".  At that point, I became confused.  I couldn't can't understand how you could play a pentatonic scale and use notes that are outside of that scale.  Does the pentatonic scale some use the 2 notes missing from that scale as "accidentals" ?  I don't understand how that would be different than using the major scale



Some listmember will "jump on this".  Please keep it simple.  I will think about each reply, do some research, try things out, and hopefully, better understand how to use this scale.  As far as music goes, I do things better when I fully understand what I am doing.



Thank You


fiddlinsteudel - Posted - 05/27/2014:  17:07:38


I'm not an expert ... but I think of the pentatonic scale as a a tool in the improvising tool box. If you are improvising, at first you may just use the penatonic scale, but it'll sound boring after a while. As you go along you'll add new things into your improvising tool box, licks, other scales, etc. 



As to using other notes, you can use them to lead to key notes, so it could be a chromatic run to some key note in the pentatonic scale, which as long as you resolve into a note that sounds good it'll work.  Or you may use the pentatonic scale as your primary improvising framework, but using 4ths and 7ths just means you are using some other scale tones to improvise with.



Anyway just a few thoughts.



Edited by - fiddlinsteudel on 05/27/2014 17:09:28

fujers - Posted - 05/27/2014:  20:04:23


Pentatonic is easy. Fiddlers use the pentatonic in most of there fiddling. You use the scale Mark you just don't understand yet how this scale works. Lets say you were playing a simple tune like Angeline The Baker. You are playing mostly pentatonic. Lets say you are playing Sally Gooding you are playing mostly pentatonic. I suggest you understand it and use it to your advantage. Bluegrass musicians us this.Now Learn It! Jerry



Edited by - fujers on 05/27/2014 20:20:34

FacePalm - Posted - 05/27/2014:  21:54:46


The pentatonic can be played over an entire piece of music that does not modulate ( change key ). It will not 'sound boring' unless you run out of ideas. As the chords change in a piece of music so too can the pentatonic scale which relate specifically to the tones of each chord. Each chord can have it's own pentatonic scale, so you are not limited to just one set of 5 notes of the same pitch. e.g. A song with three chords changes.....D chord....D E F$ A B . G chord G A B D E . A chord  A B C$ E F$. These pentatonics can be played over the relevant chords. When we superimpose pentatonics this will give us some  bluesy notes. e.g. Over the D chord D F G A C, which is the minor pentatonic. So you have a huge choice of notes to play using pentatonics.



Simple...??


fiddlinsteudel - Posted - 05/27/2014:  22:02:12


That's cool. I didn't realize that you could change pentatonic scales based on the chord. 


FacePalm - Posted - 05/27/2014:  22:05:01


quote:

Originally posted by fiddlinsteudel

 

That's cool. I didn't realize that you could change pentatonic scales based on the chord. 







Many a pop riff does this.....try it.


Peghead - Posted - 05/28/2014:  06:16:09


Keep in mind, Pentatonic simply means 5 notes. There are major and a minor pentatonic scales. They are the earliest ancient modes/scales and go back to the early Greeks. The 4th and 7th tones were added later with the advent of chordal music. Think Sweet Georgia Brown for the major pentatonic. Regarding the minor pentatonic, it's the neutered common denominator of the three 3 minor modes with their passing tones removed. It's a generic minor. A minor pentatonic works interchangably for the keys of C, G, or F and will get you out of a jamb is you don't know which mode to use.  They are good to know but get overused a lot, especially by guitar players.


Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/28/2014:  07:00:43


My original post said that I knew how the pentatonic scale was structured, and the reasons for using the scale.  But so far,  most replies don't seem to provide any answers to my original questions.  After more reading and research, I have come to the conclusion that for me to better understand how to effectively use the pentatonic scale, I would need musical notation for 3 or 4 tunes.  For each tune, I would need 2 sets of notation, one in the major key, and the other using the pentatonic scale.  Comparing notation will probably answer some of my questions, and create a few more additional questions I have.  Finally, I will start trying different things with the pentatonic scale.



I have music theory books that provide all the information I need about music theory.  Unfortunately, it is hard to find books with describe how to apply music theory.



I anybody wants to send me the notation, send an email.  We will work something out.



Thanks


DougD - Posted - 05/28/2014:  07:38:12


Dick, its not that you can play a tune using either the major or pentatonic scale (except maybe for some free form improvisation). Its that the tunes themselves are either "major" (using seven tones) or built on a penatatonic scale (among other possibilities) - not both. The two tunes Jerry mentioned are good examples - Angelina Baker" is pentatonic - its uses only the notes D,E,F#,A and B. And "Sallie Goodin" is also pentatonic, just using A,B,C#,E and F#. I guess you can add more as "passing tones" or ornaments, but those are the main notes of the melody. Its like being a modal" tune - you don't just suddenly decide to play a tune that's in A mixolydian in A major or vice versa - then its not the same tune.



I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but I hope it makes sense. If you try and add the extra scale degress into "Angelina Baker" its not the same tune anymore, and if you want to drop the 4 and 7 from a tune that uses them (like maybe "Saint Anne's Reel") it won't be the same either.



Edited by - DougD on 05/28/2014 07:41:26

DougD - Posted - 05/28/2014:  08:18:24


Not sure if I explained that too well, so heres a little more directed at your specific questions.. At least as far as traditional music goes, you don't just "decide to play the tune using the pentatonic scale." The tune is either structured using just the pentatonic scale or not. And as far as "what happens to all the 4th and 7th  notes you hear in your head ?" in a tune you've memorized, you play them because tunes that use them are not pentatonic, and are not complete without them.



You can make changes in "musical phrases" that will make a tune sound more or less pentatonic. One I've been thinking about is Marcus Martin's version of "Sugar in the Gourd," which I've played for a long time. At the beginning are a couple pickup notes leading into a G which is really the first important note of the melody. I used to play G,F# then back to G, which makes it sound major. But you can also play D,E, and up to the G, which is pentatonic, and maybe  fits better with the rest of the tune, although its not pentatonic.



At least that's the way I see it.



Edited by - DougD on 05/28/2014 08:29:42

Peghead - Posted - 05/28/2014:  08:21:55


If you want to hear how they can be applied listen to Bill Monroe's fiddle tunes. He composed many great melodies around the minor pentatonic scale. Check out Old Dangerfield for one. When other instruments take breaks, they stay in the pentatonic mode but with variations. They can be used for improvisation or as the groundwork for a melody. There's no hard and fast rule about the use of accidentals. The pure pentatonic scale gets boring pretty quickly unless it's sprinkled with other notes, accidentals and blues tones. It's rarely all by itself, like straight chicken broth.



Edited by - Peghead on 05/28/2014 08:31:24

fujers - Posted - 05/28/2014:  08:32:04


I agree with Henry. Every chord has it own unique set of penatonic scales. They are easy to play


ChickenMan - Posted - 05/28/2014:  09:47:12


Doug got it right as fast as OP is concerned. Dick, using a pentatonic scale to improvise is usually how it's mentioned. Think blues. Most blues uses a pentatonic scale but also uses slides and bends to incorporate other tones. Many a song has this structure, 'Dooley' is one that jumps out at me. Cluck Old Hen is another. Like Doug said, you would be hard pressed to eliminate tones to force a tune to be pentatonic. It's more about making it up as you go.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/28/2014:  11:12:35


I have reviewed part of Leon Grizzard's "Hokum" book.   With enough trial and error, I think it will answer some of my questions.  When I played 5 string bluegrass banjo, they yelled "take it banjo" every time nobody else know how to play a melody.  You learned how to "fake" things and memorized a large number of licks grouped by keys.  Lot easier to fake things on a banjo than a fiddle though.  If I start using pentatonic licks, I think the same thing will happen. 



Thanks for the feedback.   I am off to work my way through the "Hokum" instructional again.


alaskafiddler - Posted - 05/28/2014:  13:38:29


One alternative is rather than thinking "scales"  - just as the pentatonic space or weight - More in terms of interval relationship weight. The most common is the Ionian, as it goes from root to fifth, third, (triad) followed by major sixth and second. Other notes might be used or allowed, but just as Doug mentioned, as passing, suspension, ornament or lead-in notes; but the focus weight is on those pentatonic notes.



A lot of tunes and song melodies just have a strong usage of singe pentatonic space (even over chord changes). With being comfortable with and understanding the pentatonic weight of any key it can make finding the melody much easier. As well the ability to make variation or improvise around a melody; just using a single pentatonic weight. At least for those types of tunes/melodies, sticking close to (if not entirely) to the key's pentatonic space is an easy way to come up with something that works pretty well.



The other way to use that is to incorporate multiple pentatonic, over each chord change. It might tend to sound like more toward chord progression improvising than melodic improvising; as it does then introduce the other tones. But that can be handy to learn. Especially if needing to play over a VI or II chord, using a VI or II major pentatonic will generally work pretty well. But that also gets into, as mentioned above, some melodies are either based on a different mode; or are much more diatonic in nature; and/or harmonic changes (chord progression) are more prominent; to which just sticking to a root key pentatonic won't really work so well.


irfiddler - Posted - 05/28/2014:  19:39:11


I'm not an expert and am learning much here . The pentatonic scale has a very distinct sound, but, to my ears, an occasional 4th or 7th note would not always detract as long as it was played quickly - as a passing note. .Like Dick, I sometimes hear these notes in my head - but I'm not clear on when, where or if to use them.



Here's my experience - FWIW: At a music camp I went to some years ago, there were 10 fiddlers in my class. We were all beginning /intermediate to intermediate level players so we knew our way round a fiddle - but we weren't experienced at improvising and that was the main object of the class - to get us started on improvising using the pentatonic scale. Our teacher - a wonderful fiddler and teacher - had 4 days to work with us.



The first day, he checked our technique, made helpful suggestions, and we learned some theory. He explained about 1-4-5 chord progressions, and since we were going to be working in the key of G, he said we would be learning licks in the keys of G,C and D.



As days passed, we practiced basic pentatonic scales in these three keys - G,C and D - over and over. Next, our teacher told us to vary the pentatonic scales at will - we could change the order of the notes, or the octave we played in, or syncopate the notes. (We didn't play any 4ths or 7ths) After a while a guitarist sat in the middle of our circle, randomly playing the 3 chords for a long time. Amazingly, even though we all played our different versions, everything went together....well......as long as we were playing in the same key at the same time.



A light bulb came on for us all at that class. We were actually figuring out our own little licks in these 3 keys and we could build on this as time went by as long as we knew what chord was being played. I use licks quite a bit nowadays , little musical phrases that I use mostly as fills......and SOME  of these are based on the pentatonic scale.  BUT for most of the music I play, I always like  to hear the melody - I don't want to hear  just a series of licks one after the other - so there's always a place for 4ths and 7ths there when you are playing the melody, in any case.



Edited by - irfiddler on 05/28/2014 19:45:50

fujers - Posted - 05/28/2014:  19:41:39


Ya'll read way to much into this stuff. To keep this simple. The pentatonic is used by most fiddlers. Mark O'conner, Stewart Duncan the list goes on. Look at it this way. If the you were playing in C for instance. You would start on your C note right or any other note in this scale. You would play C,D,E, G,A,C. Want to change the key. Well just transpose what I just told. You can play pentatonic over every chord. It's played in blues, old time, blurgrass, celtic and yes jazz. It's simple to use. It's simple



Now improvisers use this differently. They play maybe 2 of the notes in the scale and move on. But you ain't got to understand that for now. Learn it


fujers - Posted - 05/28/2014:  19:44:49


To answer someone question. Yes you can use b5 or b7 in this scale. Shoot I don't leave home without them


fujers - Posted - 05/28/2014:  20:53:24


irfiddler, Good for you. You learned something. Not just anything, you learned about chord changes. Tuff ain't it. Not really. The more chord changes you know and the scales for those chord changes you know the better off your going to be. It'll take you time to understand. But you know what. I started out just like you. Once you picked up that fiddle you became a fiddle player. Now go and show what kind of fiddler you are. After all. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Jerry


irfiddler - Posted - 05/29/2014:  03:30:51


quote:

Originally posted by Dick Hauser

 

I have reviewed part of Leon Grizzard's "Hokum" book.   With enough trial and error, I think it will answer some of my questions.  When I played 5 string bluegrass banjo, they yelled "take it banjo" every time nobody else know how to play a melody.  You learned how to "fake" things and memorized a large number of licks grouped by keys.  Lot easier to fake things on a banjo than a fiddle though.  If I start using pentatonic licks, I think the same thing will happen. 



Thanks for the feedback.   I am off to work my way through the "Hokum" instructional again.




I am not familiar with the "Hokum" book - it sounds interesting -  but since you already understand how pentatonic scales and licks  are used in improvising, maybe you  just need to learn  some tricks to spice up.your fiddling and make those 4 strings sound as interesting as your banjo -   if that is your goal?


 If so...there are many ways to take a basic fiddle tune and make it your own, and  everyone has their favorites. One trick often used in bluegrass is "playing in 5ths". It's an easy thing to do and can sound quite dramatic.


 Then there's different bowings  - e.g. using the Georgia bow - 3 up and 1 down  for just a few measures - don't overdo it  - is very effective. .Slides, drones and double stops are used all the time.       Still, IMHO knowing where and how  to use licks based on the pentatonic scale - or on another scale or arpeggio - is the most useful tool of all when we're improvising.


Edited by - irfiddler on 05/29/2014 03:39:43

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/29/2014:  13:53:55


I never had a problem with the "Georgia Shuffle". Everything I learn comes from the internet or a book. The workshop sounded very good. Reading some of my books answered a lot of my questions. Your narrative on the workshop also gave me some answers. Grizzard's book says "The major pentatonic scale can be played over any major type chord of the same root, including major chords, major and dominant 7th chords, and 6th chords". Your instructor taught this concept. Although it is never stated in the book, I see examples where Leon just uses the pentatonic scale for a measure or two, so this must be a common thing.

That workshop you described sounds very effective. Restricting playing to the key of "G" simplified things. You wanted to learn a concept, so one key will work as well as multiple keys and not waste time. The more I read about it, the more I think of it in chordal terms. If I am playing a pentatonic noting pattern in the key of "D", I can play it over all the different types of "D" chord forms mentioned earlier. The book has the reader do something like your instructor did, but the workshop covered more detail and gave you a lot of guidance while practicing. It does start making the student more comfortable with the patterns, and likely to use them while playing. Your comments also confirmed my suspicions that I might end up creating a mental library of licks grouped by key. Then I will have to watch out for using musical cliches.

By the way, who was your instructor ?

As I wrote earlier, I don't learn fast. But, when I finally learn something I completely understand it, and best of all I don't forget.

irfiddler - Posted - 05/29/2014:  21:24:51


I remember when I started fiddling, someone said to me that if I kept playing tunes exactly the same way every time, I would be considered an amateur. I didn't understand that at the time - why the good players would walk away from me - but now I do. Of course that only applies if you are playing solo or in a band.

If you are jamming with a group of fiddlers, it doesn't sound too good if you are playing an outlandish version when everyone else is playing pretty much the same thing. It can be a jam buster. It's what we call Jam Etiquette.

I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the teacher, Dick. It was many years ago - 10 or more - at a California Bluegrass Society music camp held the week before the Huck Finn festival in June.

Leon Grizzard - Posted - 05/30/2014:  05:23:20


Sometimes I think things would be clearer if people would say what type of pentatonic scale they are talking about. For most discussions involving popular music, meaning minor or major pentatonic. When talking old time fiddle tunes, the three major pentatonic scales of each major key, those built off the roots of the I, IV and V chords, are the most commonly used as part of improvisation. Indeed, often as large parts of the fiddle tunes themselves. The minor pentatonic is often used as a blues or rock or bluegrass improvisation scale.

In addressing the OP, yes, you use the other notes of the major scale. If you want a rule or guide, use them on the weak parts of the beat, the ands, ie one and two and etc.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/30/2014:  06:32:53


Hey Leon.  I am reviewing your book again.  What we fiddlers need is a DVD workshop on the subject.  When the listmember described the workshop where he learned to use pentatonic scales, my first though was "it sounds like the approach in Hokum".  Learn the basic scale, familiarize your "ear" with the sound, then just start filling an empty measure or so with different pentatonic patterns for the note.  the concepts stay the same regardless of key, so it makes sense do focus on how to use this scale rather than use it in bunch of scales.  After I finish my "ear" training, I am going to create "Band in a Box" rhythm tracks with some empty tracks that I can practice 'filling" with pentatonic noting patterns.



The material in your book would be great material for a couple of DVDs. 


fiddlepogo - Posted - 05/30/2014:  13:30:28


I use pentatonic scales (and scales in general) more on electric guitar than on fiddle, and I use them for improvising.



In a tune, you just play the notes of the melody, you don't really need to think about scales.



The scale tells you what notes to include, but also what notes to EXCLUDE from your playing, and that latter aspect is important with regard to pentatonics- they have a different feel.  Chinese music tends to use them exclusively.   If all you practice is standard scales, you will tend to throw those notes in. Practicing pentatonics gives you practice in LEAVING THOSE NOTES OUT, so you can nail that airy, open feel that they have.



If you know pentatonic scales, you can recognize that some fiddle tunes are mostly pentatonic.  I find those tunes to be useful as warm up tunes in G and D, because you have fewer notes to work on.  I hone in the intonation on the pentatonic notes, then use those as reference points when moving on to tunes with a complete scale.



Hymn tunes are often pentatonic, and childrens' songs often are too- with only 5 notes, they are easier for untrained or inexperienced singers.



The pentatonic scale has been called the "cheater's scale" because with only 5 notes chances are 3 out of 5 that the notes will harmonize with the I and V chords..... you minimize your potential "clinkers"!


Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/31/2014:  08:25:33


I don't write fiddle tunes, so my use will most likely just involve improvisation. When I am not practicing, I often mentally visualize myself playing tectonic scales. I will begin using the pentatonic scale licks to improvise when I play along with recordings or rhythm tracks for tunes I already know how to play. Not with tunes I am learning though. I have become a believer of the "work on 1 problem at a time" concept.

Joel Glassman - Posted - 06/12/2014:  20:15:32


One way pentatonics are used is in Bluegrass improvisation. People develop varieties of licks off of pentatonic scales. You can play these licks in G over many different chords in the key of G. Its an approximation or generalization method of improv. One avoids having to play the chord tones over chord changes. This makes some things easier but has a bland feel to me. The first 8 bars of Oh Suzanna" are an example of pentatonics. Compile the notes into licks and there you go... There are entire styles based on pentatonic licks. I've played a lot of Bluegrass but have avoided learning to use them. People who improvise using chord shapes [ie arpeggios] and approach notes are more interesting IMO.

FacePalm - Posted - 06/14/2014:  04:47:33


I love playin bluegrass and I play alot of pentatonics, but I use them as the basis of my approach, in the same way I use arpeggios. Pentatonics just have two more notes than the triad, and the diatonic scale has just two more notes than the pentatonic. So I like moving between all three.  


Duckinacup - Posted - 06/22/2014:  17:30:59


You're that Leon Grizzard?!  I bought your book, "Hokum..." last week.  It's fabulous.  The explanations are clear and concise, and the exercises are simple, logical and sesible.  You, sir, are and admirable teacher.  Thank you.yes


Conrad - Posted - 06/27/2014:  10:47:09


I think I learned something important from this thread.  To summarize it:



========================



1) The following are contained in the X-major scale:



    a) the notes of the three major pentatonic scales whose tonics are the 1st, 4th, and 5th degrees of X-major, and



    b) the notes of the three minor pentatonic scales whose tonics are the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th degrees of X-major.



2) Each pentatonic scale so constructed contains the chord of the same name. 



========================



Example: For the G-major scale (G A B C D E F#), the pentatonic scales are:



1st: GM:  G A B D E



2nd: Am:  A C D E G



3rd: Bm:  B D E F# A



4th: CM:  C D E G A



5th: DM  D E F# A B



6th: Em:  E G A B D



The chord notes are in bold.


Conrad - Posted - 08/04/2014:  03:23:22


quote:


Originally posted by Leon Grizzard

The minor pentatonic is often used as a blues or rock or bluegrass improvisation scale.

 







Does that mean the minor pentatonic scales are played atop the minor chords of the same name?



For example, for a piece in G major, does it mean the Am, Bm, and Em pentatonic scales can safely be played atop the ii, iii, and vi chords respectively?


alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/04/2014:  14:57:02


Conrad - there is other way - less about using a different pentatonic for each chord - but rather a master pentatonic for the whole tune (over chord progression). So a tune like Amazing Grace is just using ONE pentatonic scale. In key of G major just using the G A B D E notes, even over the IV and V (C and D) chords. -  One can improvise over tunes like this way as well, just using those notes.



In some styles what folks use instead is the single minor pentatonic over the major chord progression (generally a I IV V) - so in G major - would be just using the G Bb C D F notes; but sits on top of G major, C major and D7 chords. The goal is not to make it sound minor, IMO likely aiming for neutral; mostly in 2 notes; a bit between the minor/major third (Bb/B) and slightly sharp minor seventh (F). The fiddle (and voice) has an advantage to hit those notes. Frets (aside from bending notes and slides) lack that ability, but by playing the minor over major chords gives a similar feel.


Skookum - Posted - 08/05/2014:  20:09:31



that info seems really useful!

Stergios Loustas - Posted - 03/05/2015:  12:44:42


We can use the inherent melodic power of the major pentatonic to create just about any color we want.
Here are a few more tips:

Suppose our guitarist is strumming a C major chord...

1) play C major pentatonic=the good old major sound
2) play Bb major pentatonic=modal sound
3) play Eb major pentatonic=bluesy sound
4) play G major pentatonic=jazzy, bossa nova like sound

fujers - Posted - 03/05/2015:  14:51:04


Dick, I'll help you...just give me a couple of days. I say a couple of days but it's more like a week or longer. Just Me.

It ain't hard to understand how pentatonic scales work...the trick is to play them. But they are just about as simple as it gets. I'll post here if that's ok. Jerry

jonno - Posted - 03/08/2015:  07:26:28


Thanks for starting this topic Dick.  All responses to date are helping to clear the fog and mystery, but I'm not there yet.  I'm looking forward to more examples, explanations, exercises, ways of thinking (or not thinking and just hearing) and advice.


pete_fiddle - Posted - 03/08/2015:  12:31:43


Like Henry says,good improv  tool, i like to treat the 2 extra notes of the diatonic like they are just altered notes of the pentatonic, in fact any chromatic passing note can lean toward the pentatonic as well (intonation wise)...i think...maybe...


fiddlenbanjo - Posted - 06/01/2015:  07:52:49


Perhaps even more useful than the pentatonic in Bluegrass, are the Major and Minor Blues Scales. 



The Major Blues Scale is the major pentatonic plus the minor 3rd (R, 2, b3, 3, 5, 6).  Guitar players will recognize this as the Lester Flatt G run.



The Minor Blues Scale is the minor pentatonic plus the #4  (R, b3, 4, #4, 5, b7). 



*****



A very effective way to improvise over a bluegrass tune is mixing the major and minor blues scales.



Ex.  in key of A: 



On A chord- A major blues scale.   On D chord - D major blues scale.   On E chord - Start out with E major blues scale and return to A chord using the A minor blues scale. 


fiddlepogo - Posted - 06/01/2015:  10:30:44


quote:

Originally posted by Henry

 
quote:


Originally posted by fiddlinsteudel

 


That's cool. I didn't realize that you could change pentatonic scales based on the chord. 








Many a pop riff does this.....try it.







Including the opening riff for the Temptations hit "My Girl",



youtube.com/watch?v=swSytFVMHuU



The lick is simply a complete ascending pentatonic scale.



First, it does it over the I chord, then, it switches to the appropriate pentatonic scale over the IV chord.



The Temptations version goes DOWN to the IV chord, making it easy to do on fiddle- just move the lick one string to the left.



 



Another use:



I don't know how common this is among other players though I'm guessing I can't be the only one who does it:



When I'm improvising over a 12 bar blues progression on electric guitar, I use the main minor pentatonic scale until the first V chord change at the end, then I switch to the appropriate V chord minor pentatonic scale.... it makes for a dramatic shift towards the end.



Unfortunately I've never gotten around to getting my blues improv fully shifted over to fiddle, maybe because it's just so easy to pick up the electric guitar when I'm in a mood to play blues.  But the idea is the same.



I also think of the pentatonic scale as being modified by accidentals.... but there is a tipping point- at some point it's something else with a few pentatonic phrases thrown in.  I've encountered guitarists that CLAIM to play pentatonic blues, but they've added so much other stuff, I sure couldn't tell by listening.



Pentatonic major sounds a lot like Chinese music, and pentatonic minor sounds like Delta Blues, because so much of that was done on slide guitar, and it's easier to stick to pentatonic on slide.  Pentatonic minor is also used a lot in commercial Country music.


fiddlenbanjo - Posted - 06/02/2015:  18:50:17


One of the problems with improvising with the pentatonic scale from the 1 chord is that the melody of the tune is often already straight out of the pentatonic scale.  By going to the pentatonic you haven't gone anywhere and done nothing more than rearrange the melody notes. 



I think you can get more musical mileage out of looking for melodic and rhythmic motifs in the original melody and developing them in interesting ways.  Move them around.  Superimpose a phrase or melody to a different part of the scale, etc. 


fujers - Posted - 06/02/2015:  19:29:56


fiddlebanjo, I like your way of thinking. Looking for rhythmic and melodic motifs is good very good.



Lets say that you're just playing one chord doesn't matter.



You can play pentatonic scales just about anyway you want to and they won't be wrong and you can play them as far you're able to play.



Motifs are nice you can almost sound like a guitar playing Allman Bros kind of stuff I do it



Rhythmic....that speaks for it's self. You can't really play unless you have some kind of it



The use of mixolydian or how ever you spell it goes a long way in just about any genre you can think of as well just a little different but it works



Now, I play some blues licks not very well they are here for you to listen to. if you like



I take and mix in my different scales to form a whole. It may take you time but your studies will pay off. Jerry









 



Edited by - fujers on 06/02/2015 19:32:56



Blues Licks

   

fiddlenbanjo - Posted - 06/02/2015:  22:19:01


quote:

Originally posted by fujers

 

fiddlebanjo, I like your way of thinking. Looking for rhythmic and melodic motifs is good very good.



Lets say that you're just playing one chord doesn't matter.



You can play pentatonic scales just about anyway you want to and they won't be wrong and you can play them as far you're able to play.



Motifs are nice you can almost sound like a guitar playing Allman Bros kind of stuff I do it



Rhythmic....that speaks for it's self. You can't really play unless you have some kind of it



The use of mixolydian or how ever you spell it goes a long way in just about any genre you can think of as well just a little different but it works



Now, I play some blues licks not very well they are here for you to listen to. if you like



I take and mix in my different scales to form a whole. It may take you time but your studies will pay off. Jerry







Thanks Jerry.  In bluegrass I almost play exclusively out of the major and minor blues scales.   The minor blues scale sounds great over the 5 chord.  The ability to use the chromatic part of the scale and really bring those notes out is one of the main things that separates the decent player from the really good player, imo.


fujers - Posted - 06/03/2015:  08:49:20


The use of pentatonic scales will carry you far. Just by playing pentatonic you can play all over the neck and you can play them without stopping a constant flow of notes you just have to link the notes together. After you find the way to link the notes you can play forever. Jerry

FacePalm - Posted - 06/03/2015:  23:45:41


quote:

Originally posted by fujers

 

The use of pentatonic scales will carry you far. Just by playing pentatonic you can play all over the neck and you can play them without stopping a constant flow of notes you just have to link the notes together. After you find the way to link the notes you can play forever. Jerry







I agree with Jerry here.......the notes/patterns are linked together so to shift up the neck.



My diagram shows how to make these 'links' and it will take you far up the neck and across all four strings.



The pentatonic scale pattern must be remembered to follow this chart....ie, T. T. T1/2. T. T1/2.



The major pentatonic begins at Number 1 which will be the key note. ( Include the b3 for the major blues scale. ) 



The minor pentatonic begins at No. 6, that becomes the key note. ( include a b3 for the minor blues scale. which is actually the 5th note in this scale ) 



The 'modal sounding'  scale, as mention above begins at No. 2, so superimpose that onto the key note.



For that 'jazzy, bossa nova like sound' play the major pentatonic of the mixolydian mode over the tonic chord...



 



 



 



 




   

illinoisfiddler - Posted - 06/03/2015:  23:53:28


The beauty of the pentatonic major scale is that it is not very dissonant--therefore it can be used in many situations. Thus avoiding the 4th and 7th which tend to be more dissonant in context. However, depending on the chord structure, 4ths and 7ths may be used to provide suspensions or leading tones, thus resolving appropriate chord movements. I think you have to view these scales flexibly, in that they do not dictate every note you play, your ear, training and taste in music dictate your note choices. Hope this helps.



Edited by - illinoisfiddler on 06/03/2015 23:54:13

FacePalm - Posted - 06/05/2015:  19:54:55


quote:

Originally posted by illinoisfiddler

 

The beauty of the pentatonic major scale is that it is not very dissonant--therefore it can be used in many situations. Thus avoiding the 4th and 7th which tend to be more dissonant in context.







This is true, but......when the inversions of the pentatonic major scale are superimposed over the tonic that will give you the 4th degree and many flat notes. The major 7th degree, as mentioned above, will be included in that 'jazzy, bossa nova sounding scale......i.e...the major penta of the mixo over the tonic......so there are very many more notes to choose from.... 


fujers - Posted - 06/05/2015:  22:10:41


Henry's right. Now I use a lot of flat 7th's and 3rd and 5th's in my playing. Notes you need to know when playing Western Swing or country....not to much country the dissonant sound of these chords will change the tune's tune but you can use them

Even playing some blues stuff you'll find the flatted notes very useful...or jazz perhaps...pop tunes

I find that playing minors is so much fun I just can't seem to get enough of it. Remember Darol Anger you know that kind of playing.

It is a challenge but well worth the journey.

Henry you are a very knowable person and I appreciate that you are here.

When you post I read and I think you are treasure to this site. I mean that. Jerry


FacePalm - Posted - 06/06/2015:  00:15:29


I am just presenting my ideas for the sake of discussion and hopefully I will learn something I never knew before, or see something  from a different perspective. Because that's how you really gain a deeper understanding of music theory.  



 


illinoisfiddler - Posted - 06/06/2015:  00:29:54


Good stuff here. I find that in a major key, depending on the melody, avoiding the 4th and 7th can sometimes be advantageous. On the other hand, it depends on the structure of the melody and chords. Having played blues, I also find much use for the flatted 7th and 5th, and also mixing major and minor 3rds. The thing here is to know the theory, use good taste and a developed ear, and be flexible in your thinking and improvising.

Skookum - Posted - 06/11/2015:  16:12:11


 



I agree with Illinoisfiddler on this.



My view is to keep it real simple.  The 7th note of the scale is unstable, so when your backup guitar player hears it he'll want to change chords on you.  Same with the 4th note. So that's why in improvisation you generally avoid them unless those notes are just sounded in passing and not on the beat.  That leaves you with 5 notes, or the pentatonic scale.



You might simply start practicing these scales (without the 7th and 4th) and learn to do them lightening fast without thinking (and mix up the note sequences as much as you can).  But, as has been said previously, as they are pretty boring by themselves, I'd suggest adding a flat 3ed or b5th or b7th for flavor. And also add syncopation.  And also leave holes here and there. Make up riffs.



I don't think of this as using the pentatonic scale, but rather a polytonic scale if you will. Adding these other notes makes it sound cool and you'll have an expanded  palette to work with. Put your Band-in-a-box on a continuous I chord and improvise away.



And, as has been said before, remember you can blow over all the chord changes using just the I chord polytonic scale and not worry about the chord changes.  Then, later, as you get comfortable with scales in other keys, you start adding the polytonic scale riffs of the IV chord when the tune changes to the IV chord, etc. 



Doing this opened doors for me regarding improvisation. You can add 4ths and 7ths back in later, etc.  In our culture today we are accustomed to so many different sounds it's hard to go wrong.



 



 


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