Pentatonic scale

rnbacademy.comrnbacademy.com Posts: 169Member
edited August 2016 in Technical or Theoretical Advice
Hello Friends, Today I want to examine some hip ways we might use the Pentatonic scale over a chord, or in a given key, but also, to deconstruct what is happening.  Sure I could say "Just play x over Y chord" but I happen to love understanding, and maybe you might as well. OK so let's get started! We all should know that in the key of Am we can use an Am Pentatonic.  I'm going to show you a few others that can be used, in many situations to give an outside hip sound. First let's state the notes of an A minor scale: A B C D E F G  -  A Pent Minor is A C D E and G Our first port of call is playing B Minor Pent over that Am.  Try it. B  D E F# A This adds a couple of cool notes that are not regularly in our palette: B and F# Over an Am, these would function as a 9th and a natural 6.  The natural 6, is commonly associated with that "Dorian" feel.  The 9th, just sounds hip and jazzy.  Both of these would not be ideal "landing notes, but to use them as passing color notes sounds pretty cool. The next is E Pentatonic Minor  E G A B and D We have a  B - We have already learned that B is a 9th, but the rest of the notes, are the same ones in A Pent minor, aren't they? So, there you have it, a couple of hip notes to add some color to your every day Pentatonic usage! Added theory bits for those inclined - these two ideas correspond to playing pentatonics off the 2nd and the 5th degrees of the Am Scale! Enjoy!  Till next time, play well! Best, Sean www.rnbacademy.com   

Comments

  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,685Member

    Thanks Sean - it's a good lesson. There's a wonderful YouTube clip of Scott Henderson teaching this very technique/idea:

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm_VSjadCiU

     

    Alas whenever I try it, it simply sounds like I'm playing the wrong pentatonic scale! I get the same when I try and play outside notes...Maybe a b9th or something. There must be a way of playing these things with enough meaning and verve that they come across as the right notes rather than the wrong ones.

     

    Cheers

    Derek

  • rnbacademy.comrnbacademy.com Posts: 169Member
    Originally Posted by Derek_R:

    Thanks Sean - it's a good lesson. There's a wonderful YouTube clip of Scott Henderson teaching this very technique/idea:

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm_VSjadCiU

     

    Alas whenever I try it, it simply sounds like I'm playing the wrong pentatonic scale! I get the same when I try and play outside notes...Maybe a b9th or something. There must be a way of playing these things with enough meaning and verve that they come across as the right notes rather than the wrong ones.

     

    Cheers

    Derek

     

    I get where you're coming from.

     

    I think part of it is being empowered to knowing the notes that are the color notes, and having command over them.  Perhaps, by understanding the couple of notes that are the "tensions", will help.

     

    Also, in general, the next note after these tensions, tend to be stable over that chord and key.

     

    One idea is chart out your patterns, and circle the color notes, and play for a bit over maybe a funk backing track, etc.  I should say that some styles lend themselves to this approach more than others.  Funk and R&B and Jazz for instance.  Also, watch your "mentality" with these other positions, if you tend to like bends, because they are not as easy to "riff" with as root position pent scales, in terms of bending.  If you treat it like any old pent shape, it might really tend to sound more off than you'd want.

     

    Best,

     

    Sean

     

    rnbacademy.com

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,013Member, Moderator

    To quote Miles Davis, "If you hit a wrong note, it's the next note that you play that determines if its's good or bad.",

  • Graham GeorgeGraham George Posts: 496Member
    Originally Posted by Derek_R:

    Thanks Sean - it's a good lesson. There's a wonderful YouTube clip of Scott Henderson teaching this very technique/idea:

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm_VSjadCiU

     

    Alas whenever I try it, it simply sounds like I'm playing the wrong pentatonic scale! I get the same when I try and play outside notes...Maybe a b9th or something. There must be a way of playing these things with enough meaning and verve that they come across as the right notes rather than the wrong ones.

     

    Cheers

    Derek

    Derek Hi,

     

    Just been reading this - and it occurs to me that if you start in a different place, you'll have more of a chance that the scale will sound to you as if it fits.  Scott Henderson's take on this is superb, I know the video well.

    You'll find also, where you finish makes a difference, which you will see in that video. (First example, he drops down to the 'B' as his last note to 'add' the root.) Then with different phrasing, rather than just playing the scale up and down, and it starts to come together.

    It's like you mentioning 'playing outside', it's where you "finish" that owes it's connection to the original scale, more than just where you play the 'out' notes. Also unlike the Scott Henderson video, (connecting them all together), playing outside is usually played on the 'passing' moments before chord changes.

    So in a blues in 'E', for example, the passing phrase might be inserted within any of the last four beats before a chord change, or throughout the 'B' chord before descending to 'A' and finally back to 'E'. (Dependent on the length/tempo of that chord change.)

    It's also possible to mix passing/out notes and regular shapes together when moving up/down the neck, then playing normally again to resolve. (As if they were in a 'space' that might occur in the transition.)

    Again on the 'out' of things, there are many tunes written with specific chords that require a scale which is in itself a form of 'out'. Diminished is a perfect example, as it will be more than likely a 'passing' type of chord. 

     

    There now that's made it even more complicated - got a slide rule anybody?

     

    Cheers,

    Graham.

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