This week we are continuing our series on Phrasing using Pentatonic Scales. The basic idea is that we are going to learn the notes of our scale relative to the Root, or starting point of the scale. If we see what scale degrees a lick or idea is made of and we know our scale patterns pretty well, we can move the idea all over the neck. The first thing to do is to find out what a "Scale Degree" is...This article was originally published in blog:
The Root is the starting point for a scale or chord. In the key of "C Major" we are starting on a C note and then building the scale one note after another. The next note(D) is the 2nd, the one after that (E) is the 3rd and so on. Each of these numbers are called a "Scale Degree". A Major or Minor scale normally has 7 notes. The Pentatonic scale only have 5 notes, so we will be skipping the 2nd and 6th notes of a Minor scale in order to make this a Minor Pentatonic scale.
Understanding this system allows you to keep track of the distances between notes, and most importantly in this application we can see how far away each note is from the root. This is a very simplistic way of looking at the subject, and I really do suggest you spend some time learning scale construction (we'll do lessons on that later, but a good book for guitarists on the subject is Guitar Fretboard Workbook by Barret Tagliarino. We are going to cheat for now and learn them this way...
Starting on the Root (the open circle in the Scale Diagrams below) we can go in this order:
The Root is the first note of the scale
The Minor 3rd is the 2nd note of the scale
The Perfect 4th is the 3rd note of the scale
The Perfect 5th is the 4th note of the scale
The Minor 7th is the 5th note of the scale
A Pentatonic Scale is a 5 note scale "Penta" meaning "five", and "tonic" meaning "tone".
Example 1 is just Root, Minor 3rd and the 4th played a few different places and Octaves to demonstrate the concept.
The Albert King-style lick in Example 2 can be explained like this: Root, Minor 3rd, Minor 3rd, Root, 5th, Root, Minor 7th, Root, Minor 3rd - bend the 4th to the 5th, Minor 3rd, Root. Not how I would think of it this way during a performance, and definitely not how Albert thought of it, but it gives us the opportunity to analyze the idea and move it to other places on the neck....
Try analyzing Example 3 on your own!
Once you have this worked out, try moving each of these ideas into another key...
Click here for a printable version of this lesson.
Here are a couple of books that I use with my students that you might find helpful with this stuff!