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Minor Pentatonic Scale Phrasing Lesson #1

This week we are going to learn a simple device to help you build coherent phrases with the Pentatonic or Blues Scales. If you do not already know these scales, you can download a worksheet on the Minor Pentatonic Scale Here :

Minor Pentatonic Scale Worksheet - Home Position

We are going to use just a small section of the scale in A Minor Pentatonic on the 3rd and 4th strings, and play small 3 and 4 note ideas. Then we will try another section of the scale on the 1st and 2nd strings. The main thing is to listen to how each phrase ends. Does it sound resolved, or does it not sound like it comes to an ending?

The idea of "call and response" or "question and answer" is very useful. If you think of a complete phrase as having a "question" first half, where the phrase does not sound like it has ended and an "answer" second half where it does come to an end, your idea will sound more complete.

If you are having a conversation with someone and they asked you a question such as "Did you take the trash out?", even if you didn't speak the same language a listener would get the idea that you had been asked a question because of your vocal inflection...basically, the pitch of your would go up at the end of the phrase among other small clues. The answer "No, I did not take the trash out!" will sound more resolved, and probably will have the pitch of your voice end lower. Try it and see!

The licks in the lesson do not all have the last note of the "question" idea ending in a higher pitch, but I want you to do is to listen to what each ending pitch sounds like, and determine for yourself what sounds like a complete phrase!



Click here for a printable version of this lesson.





Here are some recommendations for you to check out...simple blues guitar with short phrases that really make sense from two of my biggest influences and a really useful book that I use quite a bit in my studio from Robert Calva...

B.B. King Live at the Regal is one of my all time favorite albums, and the solo on "Sweet Little Angel" is a must learn...



Albert Kings "King of the Blues Guitar" is another of my favorites...the song "Crosscut Saw (LP Version) is a great easy blues solo to learn!



A cool book that I use with my students to get them soloing with backing tracks and learning some other rhythm guitar skills is "Texas Blues Guitar" by Robert Calva...he has "blues box" scale patterns, a ton of standard licks, solos for you to learn that are well structured and the examples are in four styles...shuffle, slow 12/8 blues, latin and straight feels!