Easy way to learn pentatonic scales for beginners

AndyB

Member
Messages
210
Location
Durham, NC, USA
Some people seem to be able to memorize the blues/jazz patterns by flatting this and sharping that, etc. but that is just hard for me to visualize so I sat down with a tablet of paper and figured out another way to memorize pentatonic scales, that when I saw it, was unbelievably easy!

1) Major Pentatonic Scales
- memorize your major triads 1-3-5
- add 2 more notes a whole step AFTER 1 and 5 (i.e. 2 and 6)

[1]-2-[3]-[5]-6

2) Minor Pentatonic Scales
- memorize your minor triads 1-3b-5
- add 2 more notes a whole step BEFORE 1 and 5 (i.e. 7b and 4)

[1]-[3b]-4-[5]-7b-[1]


The blues scale is then just one more addition of 5b.

Thinking of the 1-3(b)-5 triad as the anchoring points and adding notes around it makes a lot of solos that mix arpeggios and scales suddenly make complete sense to me. I hope this helps someone else too, but maybe everybody has to find their own way to make sense of it.

Simply adding a fourth note to the major triad for the 7b is just one more variation of the pattern of adding to the triad to make the dominant 7 arpeggio [1]-[3]-[5]-7b

Another single note addition to the triad gives what my old teacher called the Coltrane sequence
[1]-2-[3]-[5]

Adding more notes can make up the bebop mix scale that fits in the same blues/dom7 harmony, but its easy to think of as just adding more notes to the triad.
[1]-2-[3]-4-[5]-6-7b-7

Then you can move back and forth from the bebop mix, dominate 7 arp and pentatonic scales within a line all by just thinking it as of adding different notes to the triads at different times. The triad backbone doesn't really change except to shift between 3 and 3b.

I'm really excited. The light bulb finally went off. This is what I'll be shedding for a while.
 
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Scarsax

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Thanks for this I of advanced years am truly amazed that it is really so simple!
:welldone
Some people seem to be able to memorize the blues/jazz patterns by flatting this and sharping that, etc. but that is just hard for me to visualize so I sat down with a tablet of paper and figured out another way to memorize pentatonic scales, that when I saw it, was unbelievably easy!

1) Major Pentatonic Scales
- memorize your major triads 1-3-5
- add 2 more notes a whole step AFTER 1 and 5 (i.e. 2 and 6)

[1]-2-[3]-[5]-6

2) Minor Pentatonic Scales
- memorize your minor triads 1-3b-5
- add 2 more notes a whole step BEFORE 1 and 5 (i.e. 7b and 4)

[1]-[3b]-4-[5]-7b-[1]


The blues scale is then just one more addition of 5b.

Thinking of the 1-3(b)-5 triad as the anchoring points and adding notes around it makes a lot of solos that mix arpeggios and scales suddenly make complete sense to me. I hope this helps someone else too, but maybe everybody has to find their own way to make sense of it.

Simply adding a fourth note to the major triad for the 7b is just one more variation of the pattern of adding to the triad to make the dominant 7 arpeggio [1]-[3]-[5]-7b

Another single note addition to the triad gives what my old teacher called the Coltrane sequence
[1]-2-[3]-[5]

Adding more notes can make up the bebop mix scale that fits in the same blues/dom7 harmony, but its easy to think of as just adding more notes to the triad.
[1]-2-[3]-4-[5]-6-7b-7

Then you can move back and forth from the bebop mix, dominate 7 arp and pentatonic scales within a line all by just thinking it as of adding different notes to the triads at different times. The triad backbone doesn't really change except to shift between 3 and 3b.

I'm really excited. The light bulb finally went off. This is what I'll be shedding for a while.
 

SimonR

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Helston
I'm going to try this too. Up until now I had been thinking of the minor pentatonic scale being effectively the same as it's associated major, just starting on a different note. e.g. A minor pentatonic is the same as C major pentatonic, just starting on the A or the C respectively. Maybe that's because, as a piano player too, I tend to think in terms of piano keys which helps me visualise.
 

jazzarazzer

Member
Messages
30
As a guitarist I too tend to think in same way as simonR. Both ways work well though and its handy to have all this put together in one post. Very concise indeed:D
 

zelda

On the border
Messages
543
Location
British Columbia interior, Canada
Good post, AndyB. I use the 1-3-5 method. I'm new to the sax. As a guitar player, I visualize the pentatonic scales as an open C chord on the first three frets of a guitar. How do non-guitar/piano players visualize scales?
 
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