The Pentatonic Scale

The pentatonic scale is used in a lot of modern music today, but a lot of people still don’t know what it is, so let’s get started. There are two types that you should know about, the major and the minor. If you know one, you know the other; the only difference between the two is the root note, the note that you start on.

The easiest way to play the scale on piano, is to play the black notes, all five of them, that’s what makes it a pentatonic scale, having five notes. If you start on the G flat, it’s the major pentatonic and if you start on the E flat, it’s the minor pentatonic.

Let’s try the pentatonic scale in C. The notes are C D E G A, this is the major; and the easiest fingering to use going up is 123 12 in the right hand and 321 21 in the left; A minor is the relative minor of C so playing A minor pentatonic is the same as C major pentatonic except that you start on the A note.

When you play the minor pentatonic scale, if you listen carefully you might be able to hear that it sounds a bit bluesy, this is because the blues scale is exactly the same but with an added note, in A minor the added note would be D sharp, so now you’ve learnt three things with one scale, the major, the minor, and the blues, if you want more on the blues click here

OK so back to the pentatonic, this is a great scale for improvising and soloing; like the blues scale, you can hit any notes you want within the scale and it should sound great, just play the right one for the right key so if the songs in C major, play C major pentatonic, if it’s in A minor, play A minor pentatonic. To work out the major pentatonic in the other keys, play the normal major scale without the 4th and the 7th notes.

Now that you know how easy it is to play the pentatonic scale, try it and listen out for it, experiment with the fingering and see if you can make up some riffs based on it.
Here is a course with a great way of learning scales and keys that's fun too.

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