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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:59 pm 
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Calf Cutter
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Those of you that have played classic rock or blues based rock have no doubt jammed in a minor pentatonic over a major chord progression. In my early years I never bothered to ask why this was possible. I mean, if we're in a major key, why then can I play a minor pentatonic and it seems to sound better than the major pentatonic?

Well, let's take a look at this and see if we can come up with a decent answer.

Let's use the key of A, since it is a very popular rock key (don't be jealous E and C, you guys are popular too).

The notes of A major are - A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#

The MAJOR pentatonic would be A, B, C#, E, F# (R, 2, 3, 5, 6 notes)

So if we're playing a classic A progression (generally a I, IV, V) we'd have a progression that goes - A, D, E.

Our major pentatonic derives it's notes directly from the major scale (duh!), but as you can see, includes the A and the E (I & V) yet not the D (IV). Our D is an important note (You could even call it Perfect!), yet it does not appear in our major pentatonic scale. Hmmmm.

Again, these notes work because they come directly from the scale, but looking at them, I don't see much of anything that creates tension.

WHAT DAVE??? You want to cause a problem??? TENSION???


HELL YEAH! That's what it's all about.

Think about life. If you had no tension in life, then you'd probably have no relief either. Maybe no reason for joy. Life would be simple and BORING. Why would you celebrate getting a promotion or winning the lotto or graduating from college (or elemenrty school for some!), if you didn't have to work at it in the first place? It seems, the more you 'sweat' at something, the bigger the reward.

In music, we like to add tension and then resolve it. Otherwise, as with life, music might seem boring.

Let's throw a bit of tension into our scale, giving us an opportunity to resolve it and make our solo much more interesting.

You could do that a number of different way, but for now, we'll do that with a minor pentatonic scale.

To create our minor pentatonic, we use notes from the minor scale of the key we are in. In the key of A, our minor scale would be -

A, B, C, D, E, F, G (R, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7)

As you recall, our major pentatonic used the R, 2, 3, 5, 6 notes from the major scale. A minor pentatonic uses the R, 3, 4, 5, 7 notes from the minor sclae (or R, b3, 4, 5, b7 of the major scale).

Our example in A gives us a minor pentatonic consisting of:

A, C, D, E, G.

So again, why does this minor scale work over a major progression?

For one thing, out of 5 notes, 3 of them are also included within the major scale - A, D & E. IN fact, they are the root notes of the chord progression. Pretty important notes, only two of which are included in the major pentatonic.

What about the other two notes? How do they affect our scale.

Let's look at the G first. In A major, this would be a b7 note. 7th notes play an important part in harmony. They tell us whether a chord is dominant or not. Flattening the 7th, creates a dominant chord or melody. Blues and Rock have both both used this aspect of music as almost a backbone of their sound. Flattening a 7th, does nothing to tell us whether something is major or minor. So the addition of the b7 note simply gives us a more 'bluesy' sound. It creates some tension and in many solos, is bent up to the Root.

Ok, four out of five notes work just fine so far. So what about that last one, the b3. How does that work over a major progression?

Ahhhhh, TENSION.

That's really about it. It causes tension and begs to be resolved. Playing a run in the minor pentatonic, you probably wouldn't 'hang' on this ntoes for too long. The feeling is to resolve it. Maybe to the natural thrid, which would be a 'passing' note in a minor pentatonic scale. A common blues thang, is to play the b3 then hammer onto the 3.

That's really all there is to it. As you can see, a minor pentatonic played over a major progression fits nicely as 3 of the notes come irectly from it. And the remaining two, add just the 'flavour' necessary to give your solo some feel.

Well, not quite.

Another note that can also spice things up nicely is the 'Blue' Note. A b5.

In fact, the popular Blues scale is simply a minor pentatonic with the b5 added to it. Used similarly to the b3, it adds tension and generally resolved very quickly. As a passing note.

In A, the blues scale would be:

A, C, D, Eb, E, G

Likewise, this plays nicely over a major progression. For a real nice sound, play 7th chords A7, D7, E7 or varieties of them. Also, throw in some other extended chords (9th, 13th).

Hope you got something out of this. 8)


Last edited by sirN on Fri May 19, 2006 5:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 5:52 am 
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Tinhorn

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You should be teaching. In person. There'd be a waiting list to get in your class. SRO.
:)
:!:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:43 am 
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Tenderfoot
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any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
any minor world that breaks apart falls together again

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:39 am 
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Calf Cutter
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Thanks Mick. That was real nice of you to say that. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:50 pm 
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Mr. Electonica Dude
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Cant wait to sit down and digest all this. With no formal training it's neat for me to see why these things work on a nuts and bolts level.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 3:14 pm 
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Tinhorn

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sirN wrote:
Thanks Mick. That was real nice of you to say that. :)

Well, it's like Geno said, and Drum in another thread in this topic area...

Except for a couple of series of workshops I was fortunate to participate in moons ago in NY and Boston, my 'training' was all self-inflicted or practical among other players sharing knowledge. I can read & write 'nashville system' charts, or tab, I can follow what a melody is doing directionally and rhythmically, but I'll probably die not being able to sight read or understanding what the hell a myxolodian (?) mode is... tho I think I have a fundamental grasp of the dyslectic mode.

Here, as in past posts on theory, you've got a style and way of explaining the theory that's easy to relate to, not 'obtuse' -- not like 'you're a moron if you don't get this'. It's got your sense of humor and playfulness injected in it.


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 Post subject: Hee hee
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:41 pm 
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Rodeo Clown
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Very good Ricky, my favorite Dan tune.

Mick, all the white keys from G (the fifth degree of the major scale in C) to G = Mixolydian. Start at C, never play accidentals, build from each progressive degree and always remember "I Don't Piss Like Most Americans Like" and you've conquered modality (sort of). :lol:

You should be teachin' Stu. :D

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 12:31 pm 
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Cowhand
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BRILLIANT !!!!


I cant believe i never knew that "I dont piss like most americans like"
ionian dorian phrygian lydian mixolydian aeolian and locrain ????
did i remember those right, lol


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'61 Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:41 pm Post subject: Hee hee

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Mick, all the white keys from G (the fifth degree of the major scale in C) to G = Mixolydian. Start at C, never play accidentals, build from each progressive degree and always remember "I Don't Piss Like Most Americans Like" and you've conquered modality (sort of).


[/code][/list][/quote]


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 11:11 pm 
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Sodbuster

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This is why E7th with a #9th sounds so cool eh? i call it the major/minor chord. as in Brighton Rock end chord.


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