Saturday, 30 November 2013

Confession #45 - Pentatonic Scales (Part 4)

In Confession #43 - Pentatonic Scales (Part 2) we looked at Pentatonic Pattern #3.  In this week's confession, we'll look at Pentatonic Pattern #4.

We'll also explore how you can link up Pattern #1 and Pattern #4 when playing a I-IV-V chord progression.  There's a video demo and a TAB for this below.

See Confession #14 - Know What Chords to Play! and Confession #15 - Find the I, IV, V in any Key!  if you're not sure what a I-IV-V chord progression is or what the roman numerals mean.

Major Pentatonic Pattern #4

Here is major pentatonic pattern #4 in the key of C.  I've coloured the root notes red for easy reference.  I've also shown pattern #3 in the diagram so you can see how the two patterns are connected.  The dashed notes on the left belong only to pattern #3.  The notes in the middle are common to both patterns. The notes on the right belong only to pattern #4.

Minor Pentatonic Pattern #4

Here is minor pentatonic pattern #4 in the key of A minor.  Again, I've coloured the root notes red for easy reference and I've also shown pattern #3 in the diagram so you can see how the two patterns are connected.

Linking Pattern #1 and Pattern #4

Let's start this segment with the video demo and the TAB.  Below that we'll discuss where the notes are coming from and how the two patterns are connected in this demo.

Linking Pattern #1 and Pattern #4
(Click to Enlarge)

I started noodling around one day with the Am pentatonic scale.  All the while I was thinking that I would be playing whatever I came up with over an A major chord.

Why did I want to play the Am pentatonic scale over an A major chord?  Theoretically it shouldn't work.  An A major chord has a C# in it.  The A minor scale has a C in it.  The two should clash.  And they do, but in a way that sounds good.  Playing a minor pentatonic scale over a major chord is the sound of the blues and of rock and roll.

I was further thinking that this might be played over a 12 bar blues which, as we learned in Confession #41 - 12 Bar Blues!, uses the I, IV and V chords.  In the key of A, the chords would be A, D and E.

So, the lick starts with the Am pentatonic pattern #1 extended box for the first two measures, and would be played over an A major chord.

Then I was thinking what if the chord changed to D major?  I wanted to replicate the lick in the first measure, but play it in the key of D.  i.e. the lick would follow the chord (see Confession #41 - 12 Bar Blues! for another example of this) as it does in the third measure of the tab..

One way of doing this would be to simply play the lick 5 frets higher. That would transpose it to the key of D.

However, I wondered if I could find the lick closer by if I switched to a D minor pentatonic pattern.  That's when I had an epiphany:
  • The only difference between A minor pentatonic and D minor pentatonic is that A minor has an E note, and D minor has an F note.
  • Dm pentatonic pattern #4 is right under Am pentatonic pattern #1

This is illustrated in the chart below.

The chart also shows the location of the "blue note" or the "flat five" when using Am pentatonic pattern #1.  Here, the blue note is Eb,  and is used in the 2nd, 6th and 7th measures in the TAB above.

The other thing to note is that if you play pattern 4 at the 7th fret, then it would be Em pentatonic.  Thus, if you were playing over a 12 bar blues and wanted to follow the chords, you could:
  • play pattern #1 at the 5th fret for the I chord (A major),
  • play pattern #4 at the 5th fret for the IV chord (D major), and
  • play pattern #4 at the 7th fret for the V chord (E major).
To be clear, you could just play Am pentatonic over all three chords.  But knowing that you can follow the chord by switching to Dm pentatonic and Em pentatonic gives you another option for coming up with some great licks!

Next Week's Confession - Pentatonic Scales (Part 5)

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