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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Pentatonics for a minor 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/48628

Snafu - Posted - 01/26/2018:  11:29:55


Hello everyone I have gotten a lot of great advice from this site, mostly as a lurker/listener where I try and take what others have offered and apply it. Fujers has quite often, in many forums, made the point to learn and play in pentatonics (the 1-2-3 (skip4) 5 and 6 notes in the major scales) as a quick way to pick up the melody line of many bluegrass and old time tunes. I have been applying this suggestion over the last few months at jams and it indeed works for 90+% of the tunes. Great suggestion!



So here is my minor question for those who might have a background in music theory: Is there a pentatonic equivalent to learn when someone calls out a tune and mentions that it is in a minor key? I always want to question which minor key but everyone else seems to understand but it confuses me. The reason this confuses me is because while there is one standard whole step vs half step progression for a major key my handy copy of Mel Bay's guitar method mentions three different forms of minor scales:

1. Natural (or pure) minor based off the related major key. A natural minor has the notes from the C major scale starting on the A [...gABCDEFGabcdefG...].

2. The Harmonic minor uses the natural minor progression and takes the 7th tone (the G in the A minor scale ) and sharps it ascending and descending.

3. The Melodic minor takes the 6th and 7th notes from the natural scale and sharpens both of them when the scale is ascending but lowers both of them back to the normal pitch from the scale when they are descending. (F and G are sharped rising and played as plain F and G when descending.



So if I apply the same pentatonic scale rule - play the 1st 2nd 3rd (skip4) 5th and 6th notes to a minor scale what happens to the 6th if the tune is in the Melodic minor mode? Is it really sharpened going up and played as normal pitch for the key going down in the pentatonic scale? All so confusing. Help me if you can to clear this up. I'm probably making it all more complicated than it really is. My nature so sorry about that.


Edited by - Snafu on 01/26/2018 15:59:16

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 01/26/2018:  12:36:28


I'm writing this response totally from my head, with no access to an actual musical instrument, and I'm probably tossing out several centuries of musical theory here, but why not just substitute the Minor Third for the Major Third in the Pentatonic scale? Why not substitute a Minor Sixth for the Major Sixth, as well?

PrairieFiddler - Posted - 01/26/2018:  12:43:16


Very often, the natural minor is the one used when it's called a minor key. It's also called the Aeolian scale. The pattern is W H W W H W W (W = Whole step, H = Half Step), which you'd get if you started on the 6th interval of a common major pattern and continued an octave. The other 3 "minor" scales (Dorian, Phrygian, and Locrian I think) would probably be called as a modal key because they're not strictly minor or major. But moving on.... to create a pentonic scale from a minor scale, leave out the 2nd and 6th scale degrees. These would be the same notes left out in the relative major's pentonic scale. E.g. for E minor, you leave out F# and C#, the same notes you leave out for the G major pentonic scale, E minor's relative major or vice-versa.

Hope this helps!


Edited by - PrairieFiddler on 01/26/2018 12:46:00

PrairieFiddler - Posted - 01/26/2018:  12:54:18


Or a more complicated way to make a minor pentatonic scale is to take the major scale, leave out the 2nd and 6th degrees, and flatten the 3rd and 7th degrees.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 01/26/2018:  13:27:25


The Major and minor pentatonics are inversions of each other, Cmajor pent = C,D,E,G,A ......A minor pent (relative min to C maj) = A,C,D,E,G
these are both......"ehem"...... Anhemitonic pentatonic scales, the complications arise (i think), when you get into Hemitonic pentatonics, which i think are just altered Anhemitonic pentatonics, but that is just conjecture on my part (after a glass or two of Scotlands finest).

fujers - Posted - 01/26/2018:  14:53:37


Snafu, Here is a link that explains how Pentatonic work and other scales.basicmusictheory.com/g-minor-p...nic-scale The minor Pentatonic works the same way as the major pent does just have to flat a note and that's it. I like playing in min pents because you can go any place on the neck and never hit a bad note..unless you don't play a minor note. And you can play many chords just like you can in maj pents. Jerry

Snafu - Posted - 01/26/2018:  15:35:16


Well thanks everyone for the concise explanations. So the takeaway from all this (correct me if I’m wrong please) is the 5 notes that make up the major key pentatonic scale are the same five notes that make up its pentatonic minor. What I need to go play (literally) with is that these same five notes can be made to sound either “happy” and “sad” depending on the order they are played. All the pentatonic tunes I have played so far have had that major happy sound to my ears.

ChickenMan - Posted - 01/26/2018:  17:20:33


That is pretty much it. The scale looks the same but ‘starts’ on a different note. The starting note being the key. You just need to know the minor key is three 1/2 steps lower than the major scale that is related.



Major key/minor key..... A/F# G/E C/A D/B Bb/G F/D E/C# covers most of what you will encounter in most circles.



And then, start with yet another note and boom, you’re getting deep into modes without knowing it.


Edited by - ChickenMan on 01/26/2018 17:23:01

FiddleBas - Posted - 01/26/2018:  17:33:41


quote:

Originally posted by PrairieFiddler

Or a more complicated way to make a minor pentatonic scale is to take the major scale, leave out the 2nd and 6th degrees, and flatten the 3rd and 7th degrees.






This is the most concise description of the minor pentatonic scale in the thread so far. 

Snafu - Posted - 01/27/2018:  10:08:54


“Or a more complicated way to make a minor pentatonic scale is to take the major scale, leave out the 2nd and 6th degrees, and flatten the 3rd and 7th degrees.”  



Bas mentions this as the most correct way to do it has me doing the following:



say for the easy C major scale:



1 2 3 4 5 6 7



C D E F G A B c 



OK - so I leave out the 2nd (D) and 6th (A) degrees, and flatten the 3rd (Eb) and 7th (Bb) degrees.



leaving this pentatonic as the notes in the A minor key derived from the major C scale;  C Eb F G Bb 



That just don’t seem right to my eyes or ears.  I must be doing something wrong here.....



 

DougD - Posted - 01/27/2018:  10:18:52


Yes, you're missing something. The notes you listed are the Cmin pentatonic scale, not Amin.
To (hopefully) summarize:
The minor pentatonic scale is: 1,b3,4,5,b7.
It also uses the same notes as its relative major scale, except starting on the sixth degree of the major scale, instead of the first. So the Amin pentatonic scale is: A,C,D,E,G.
As a little brain teaser, note that relative to the C major scale, those notes are 6,1,2,3,5 - the same as used in the C major pentatonic scale, just in a different order.

DougD - Posted - 01/27/2018:  11:01:12


A couple more thoughts. If you start with a natural minor scale, the pentatonic scale is just 1,3,4,5,7. For A minor that is A,C,D,E and G.
If you start with a major scale you can look at it as bas suggested. For C minor that is C,Eb,F,G,Bb.
Don't confuse the relative minor, which uses the same notes as its relative major scale, with the parallel minor (I think that's the right term), which shares the same name and starting note as its major counterpart. C minor is the relative minor of Eb - it doesn't have much harmonic relationship to A, major or minor.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 01/27/2018:  11:46:38


quote:

Originally posted by Snafu

“Or a more complicated way to make a minor pentatonic scale is to take the major scale, leave out the 2nd and 6th degrees, and flatten the 3rd and 7th degrees.”  



Bas mentions this as the most correct way to do it has me doing the following:



say for the easy C major scale:



1 2 3 4 5 6 7



C D E F G A B c 



OK - so I leave out the 2nd (D) and 6th (A) degrees, and flatten the 3rd (Eb) and 7th (Bb) degrees.



leaving this pentatonic as the notes in the A minor key derived from the major C scale;  C Eb F G Bb 



That just don’t seem right to my eyes or ears.  I must be doing something wrong here.....



 






I think you have just constructed a C blues scale (albeit lacking the augmented 4th, F# )...maybe that's the harmonic relationship??

PrairieFiddler - Posted - 01/27/2018:  14:23:08


Removing the 2nd and 6th, and flattening the 3rd and 7th creates the minor pentatonic scale of the same root note you started with. That is, it creates a C minor pentatonic out of a C major scale. To create the relative minor's pentatonic (A minor pent from C Major), simply remove the 4th and 7th from the major scale (same as creating the major pentatonic), and then start on the relative minor's root note (A in this case).
I don't know if that's any less complicated... lol

Snafu - Posted - 01/27/2018:  15:35:02


Ahhhh. I thank you Doug, Pete and Prarie for clearing this up. Frankly, I never considered making say an Amin scale from the A major scale. I always think of minor scales as derived from its relative major - Aminor from C major and the like. Now I know both methods.

fujers - Posted - 01/27/2018:  20:37:20


The other thing that you can do. Lets say you were playing in the key of G again..now play an Emin scale and that works beautifully together with the Gmaj chord. There are maj and minor relationships to every chord look them up. Jerry

pete_fiddle - Posted - 01/28/2018:  07:22:29


bear in mind that the melodic minor doesn't always change going up and down,

jazz minor is the same as melodic minor ascending, and stays the same descending, its sometimes called the "minor major" scale for this reason,

there is also a "major minor" scale as well,...(1st tetrachord Major 2nd the same as Aolian or natural minor)

and my fav at the moment the "Harmonic Major" scale..

they take a bit of "hearing" at first, but once heard cannot be unheard

they sound as if nobody uses them at first, but then after a while the penny drops and you realize you are on well trodden ground

fujers - Posted - 01/29/2018:  22:43:00


Well, It really doesn't matter if its a Harmonic Major, Natural Minor or any other minor..a minor is a minor and all these can be played within the Minor Pentatonic scale and there are lots of them and they are simple. Now... I don't know if you want to play any of the scales mentioned but I encourage you to learn as much as you can carry. But I do know the maj and minor pents work..at least for me they do. Jerry

bluesmode - Posted - 01/31/2018:  18:25:17


quote:

Originally posted by DougD

 C minor is the relative minor of Eb 






@DougD: speaking of Cmin being the relative minor of Eb, I do an EbMaj7 arp over 4 strings for a C blues over the I chord and a BbMaj7 arp over the IV chord. Same for blues in G... BbMaj7 arp over the I chord, FMaj7 arp over the IV chord. These Maj7 arps fall to hand very nicely for Eb & Bb imho, but I don't start them on the root, but on the Maj7. I wouldn't do the Maj7 arps over both the I and the IV at the same time, but in different places through out a 12 or 16 bar. or maybe just once for either the I or IV chord in the first round and change it for the second round.... that's if the front man lets me take an extra 12 bars!  



for a C blues, the EbMaj7 also works very well over the IV chord. For C, I think of the EbMaj7 arp as the 'primary' arp and the BbMaj7 the 'secondary' arp.



for a G blues it would be the BbMaj arp as primary and FMaj7 the secondary.



the 'secondary' arps have a bit more of an 'outside' sound.


Edited by - bluesmode on 01/31/2018 18:46:57

bluesmode - Posted - 01/31/2018:  20:09:48


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle





and my fav at the moment the "Harmonic Major" scale..



they take a bit of "hearing" at first, but once heard cannot be unheard



they sound as if nobody uses them at first, but then after a while the penny drops and you realize you are on well trodden ground






@pete_fiddle: Hi Pete...."but once heard cannot be unheard" you've got my attention! what is this Harmonic Major scale, and what would be some ways to trod it into the ground?laugh

pete_fiddle - Posted - 02/01/2018:  00:36:37


Hi Dave, It's a just a Major scale (Ionian) with a flat 6...or a Dorian b5,...Phrygian b4...lydian b3... mixolydian b2,... Aolian b root!!!... Locrian b7... makes for some nice fruity and smooth Modes,chords & arpeggio's and still finishes nicely on the 1 Major ....sort of really sweet Jazzy endings etc



Careful though, like i said "once heard".........winklaugh

pete_fiddle - Posted - 02/01/2018:  02:08:37


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

Hi Dave, It's a just a Major scale (Ionian) with a flat 6...or a Dorian b5,...Phrygian b4...lydian b3... mixolydian b2,... Aolian b root!!!... Locrian b7... makes for some nice fruity and smooth Modes,chords & arpeggio's and still finishes nicely on the 1 Major ....sort of really sweet Jazzy endings etc



Careful though, like i said "once heard".........winklaugh






.......sort of musical Mogadon



and (to get back to the OP) i suppose you could construct pentatonics from these modes as well ??

bluesmode - Posted - 02/01/2018:  03:35:02


ok, I get it. Sounds pretty cool. Thanks Pete! I just ran it thru a couple of the modes you listed. Pretty easy formula eh? So this would be an eight note scale. I've recently been re-visiting bebop scales, and this harmonic major sounds like it's related somehow. Check this out if you like.



This is for an A blues. I think it's A dorian super imposed on an A blues scale. A B C D Eb E F# G a



This would be for E aeolian. E F# G A B C D Eb e



This works for swingy C7 or C6 stuff . C D Eb E F# G A B c with kind of a Lydian flavour with the F# being a raised fourth.



the kicker is, all three of these are inversions of the same notes. they sound good extended past the first octave also.


Edited by - bluesmode on 02/01/2018 03:38:10

pete_fiddle - Posted - 02/01/2018:  06:30:08


quote:Originally posted by bluesmode

ok, I get it. Sounds pretty cool. Thanks Pete! I just ran it thru a couple of the modes you listed. Pretty easy formula eh? So this would be an eight note scale



No its a normal 7 note scale,

haven't got into the Bebop stuff yet, i'm still experimenting with the Majors and the Mel/Harm minors....and the "Harmonic Major" of course :o)

these all seem to revolve around the Dorian Mode .....in my way of thinking..... but that's another story



But i think we may be hijacking this thread (pentatonics for minor scales)


Edited by - pete_fiddle on 02/01/2018 06:35:31

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 04/05/2018:  05:34:20


For the Parallel Minor move your Major Penta notes up 3 half-steps.

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