The pentatonic scale has no half steps...

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by charlie chitlin, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Stealing from sax players is a hobby of mine.
    The kind of intervallic jumps that fall under their fingers often require more thought on guitar.
    Intervallic jumps, yo. ;)
     
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  2. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Meister

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    careful, your giving away my secret
     
  3. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Meister

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    Duosonictritonequadraphonicpentatonicdoubletriplepifflewhiffle!

    With cheese...
     
  4. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    That's basically what theory is. You have to be able to hear it, which is why this approach works. Do this enough, and you'll start to see/hear/remember which notes sound like what against what chord. Your ears aren't going to send you to outer space, as they have been conditioned to respond to consonance/dissonance. This is what helps give a sense of gravity, tension, pull to the notes.

    What I used to do, is play a questionable note as much as I can during a solo. Then I'd just pay attention to how things sound together.
     
  5. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like the chromatic scale ...
     
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  6. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    The blues scale is different from the pentatonic scale. In G as per the OP's example, the minor pentatonic would be

    G Bb C D F i.e., 5 notes, therefore "pentatonic"

    The blues scale would be:

    G Bb C Db D F

    So yes, you get an additional b5- the Db.

    However, as noted one of the classic things to do is to play the major 3rd of the I7 chord (G7)-- B, since
    a G7 chord is G B D F

    Why does a blues scale work so well over the typical blues I7-IV7-V7 progression? Let's see, the notes of each chord are:

    I7: G B D F. So you have the G, D, and F, but you are missing the B. The Bb actually sounds "blue" against the underlying
    B note in the G7 chord. The Db is a b5 and so it sounds "blue" against the underlying D note in the G7 chord. Having the
    major 3rd missing from the scale really detracts from the lead line and so most hip blues players incorporate the major 3rd into
    their lines when they're playing over that I7 chord. In fact, they do a lot of transitioning back and forth between the minor 3rd
    and major 3rd and all the micro-tones in between. Similarly, there is a ton of bending going on between the F and the G and
    all microtones in between. There is also a lot of bending between through the C, Db, and D and all microtones inbetween.

    IV7 (C7): The chord notes are C E G Bb. The blues scale contains the C, G, and Bb. You don't get the M3-- E, so it's
    again very hip sounding to play the E note when in the IV7 chord. The D is the 9th (a.k.a. 2nd) of the chord, so sounds good
    especially over a C9 instead of a C7. The F sounds "blue" against the major 3rd or E of the chord. The Db sounds
    kind of blue against the C.

    V7 (D7): The notes of the chord are D F# A C. The only notes in the blues scale that hit chord notes are the D and
    C-- the root and dominant 7th. The Db is blue against the D. The G is blue against the F#. The F is blue against the
    F#, and the Bb is blue against the A and C. This is why the blues scale all by itself sounds kind of crummy
    against the V7, actually. If you can actually focus more on the actual chord tones of the V chord, hitting the actual
    F# and A as part of your line it sounds way hipper to my ears....

    The other weird thing is it typically does NOT work well to just move up to the blues scale for that V chord. In a G blues
    it sounds better to play the G blues scale the whole time rather than to play the D blues scale when you're move up to the
    D chord (the V chord). I guess the reason for this is that the notes of the D blues scale have too many notes that really
    clash against the notes in the I chord, and in blues the tonal center is really the I chord even when you are playing the other chords.
    These notes also do not lead into the IV7 chord, which is coming next. So it works better to focus on the G blues scale as well as
    the arpeggio notes of the D7 chord, but not to just move up to playing
    the D blues scale over the D7. This might seem counter-intuitive since it is true that if you were playing a D blues then
    the D blues scale would sound great over the
    D7 chord, because now it's the root and tonal center of the blues progression, not the V chord of the progression.

    If you analyze real simple, basic blues solos, they may just sit on that minor pentatonic scale all day long, or possibly the
    blues scale with the b5 added. But usually the solo lines that sound really hip at the very least incorporate the major 3rd and
    dominant 7th of the underlying chord within the melodic line.

    All twelve tones work all the time over any chord, but only if you phrase them correctly. A note that should be a passing note, but that
    is played as a main note sounds like a clam. You got two options at that point: repeat that note with feeling and build from there,
    and it will sound like you were playing "outside" on purpose. Or quickly move a half step in either direction. Any "clam" is always exactly
    one half step away from a good note in either direction. Always... (unless the chord just changed again).

    This analysis also leaves out, for the most part, the other notes in the extended arpeggio-- the 9th, 11th, 13th. Depending on the chord you are playing these other notes come into play and become important ones to emphasize in your lead line for it to sound really hip against the underlying chord.
     
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  7. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up TDPRI Member

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    Being new, that's what I lack. I don't know how to groups notes together that sound good, yet. But then, I'm only 4 weeks into learning how to play and doing my best to learn theory at the same time with no formal teacher or private lessons. It's all on me. So far, I've overloaded myself with electric guitar in all forms.

    Heck, instead of watching TV now, I usually have a playlist of YouTube vids going from my favorite guitar YouTubers discussing music theory, etc...I tend to stay away from gear reviews and comparison vids. Not my thing, yet.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  8. DaveG_NJ

    DaveG_NJ TDPRI Member

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    There are some pretty good guitarists who can't read music. And there are some that would astound you with the level of theory that they've mastered. I've been playing for 40 years, on and off, but plateaued early when I got frustrated over barre chords and trying to play a clean F on a cheap guitar with high action in an era with no Youtube. LOL.

    Over the years, I learned to play fingerstyle using tabs, but could never improvise, only memorize. Tried learning scales and modes. Made my brain hurt.

    I didn't have a breakthrough until I just tried playing a pentatonic scale over all kinds of songs, occasionally throwing in a blue note or filling in another grace note. I'd build playlists of songs, like an hour's worth, in a given key and just improvise over each song - regardless of genre (blues, country, rock). If you do it enough, you stop thinking about notes or even patterns and you reach a state of what I like call "flow'. When you sing, hum, or whistle, you're probably not thinking about half-steps, scales and modes. You create the sound your ear knows is right.

    Of the online lessons, I like Active Melody. You can learn techniques and light theory, but Brian really does a great job showing how extensible the information is and how you can apply it in other places. A few tasty licks here and there are nice as well.
     
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  9. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Being able to hear a melody line in your head that goes with the music and having that be able to immediately flow out of your fingers is the goal.

    However, with a lot of studying (lots of listening and then figuring out what was played),
    the melody lines you conceive of become more and more interesting. I love listening to really good jazz
    improvisation because their lead lines are amazing. I wish I could have lines like that flow out of my fingers, but I'm not there yet. There
    are a lot of ways to get there....with or without theory....and there are inefficient ways to get there....but there are no shortcuts, either.

    Knowing the theory in your brain and on paper is useless if it doesn't translate to your fingers. Better to be an amazing player who needs
    to learn enough theory just to communicate with other musicians vs. being a musician who knows all the theory but can barely play a lick.
     
  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I took lessons for a few years with guys in local rock, blues and fusion bands when I started, then auditioned and got in to a special music school because I could play. They could all read music whereas I couldn't. I learnt most things by just learning covers, the pentatonic boxes and noodling around in my spare time. I kind of wish I had a better understanding of theory but then again i'm glad I spent more time playing than studying. At some point the theory pays off but from what I noticed in those early years in the music courses there were no decent players in the classes. Yeah they could read music and write for multiple instruments but they must have spent more time on developing that than actually playing and developing an ear and feel for what they were playing. It was like two different worlds.

    One where you practice improvising with a basic guideline to follow and the other with a strict set of rules that prohibits your ability to improvise until you become a master of theory which could take many years. Ironically I was kicked out of the music school at the end of the first year after failing my theory exams despite being a better player than the other students that played guitar and had learnt everything via the music course.

    I was ok with that as I was expecting it. It was strange that they approached music in that way though. Especially with guitar where the instrument is so expressive if you want it to be.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
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  11. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    My fastest-learner guitar student only showed up about once every 3 weeks, and, when he did, it was all going through stuff he was working on with YouTube that he wasn't completely understanding, or he wanted to deepen his understanding of it.
    It might not be for everybody, but the combination of teacher and YouTube really worked for him.
     
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  12. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up TDPRI Member

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    That's good to know. I have been following structured lessons through a few different resources online like justinguitar.com and the Fender Play app so it's not totally random. I mostly supplement that with random stuff, though. Or stuff Im interested inearning about that I haven't made it to in the lessons, yet. I started getting into scales in the first week and realized I was a little too far ahead because there was a bunch I wasn't understanding as far as theory and scale patterns and things so I kind of backed off of that until I had a better understanding of the basics.
     
  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Of course I can only know my own experience, but AFAIK no theory understanding is required to play single note lines if you can recall a melody from a song you've heard.

    Remember that music theory only came after music had been around for a while, and somebody decided to explain it so they could teach it. Anything that sounds good IS good, and theory is a way to explain what sounds good and why in non musical ways.

    By non musical I mean that none of the words used in discussion of theory are music, they are just words we are supposed to memorize and be able to apply to music.
    All the memorizing of words and their applications is a whole 'nother bunch of work that was not required for the music.

    If you want to take cues from a band leader, write scores, sight read, or teach, you'll need to know how to talk in those terms.
    But there is really no need to discuss music terminology in order to make music.
    And it's pretty much a fact that the time spent memorizing words is time not spent playing music.

    This isn't to say theory is bad or useless, just to say there's no need to back off from learning where the notes are on the fingerboard and recognizing the patterns they make which allow you to quickly find them; because you need to focus on naming them before you can play them.
     
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  14. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    Pents love 1/2 steps.

    Say you're playing strictly in C major, that means any of the 7 diatonic chords in the key of C, Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 -
    G7 Am7 Bm7b5

    It just so happens there are 3 naturally occurring minor pent scales, as well as the 3 relative major pent scales. I am chosing to only use the 3 minor pents, simplify I say.

    The 3 minor pents that you can play over the key of C is,

    A minor pent A C D E G
    D minor pent D F G A C
    E minor pent E G A B D

    Notice that all 3 pents share 3 notes, A, G, D, these are notes you can use to "pivot" into either of the other pents, by ear at some point.

    Also, each of the 3 minor pents have a 1/2 step "web" of connections.

    Here is an example of the 3 minor pent's sounds and how it sounds good over any of the diatonic family of chords,

    Cmaj7- or any other chord in C key
    -8--5----------------------------------------------
    ---------6------8--5-------------------------------
    -------------7----------5------7--4---------------
    -----------------------------7------------5---------
    -----------------------------------------------7----3
    ------------------------------------------------------
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
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  15. Shango66

    Shango66 Friend of Leo's

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    If you superimpose the maj pent over the blues scale/min pent there is a chromatic series between 2 to 5.
     
  16. Mr Ridesglide

    Mr Ridesglide Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    ya'll are so smart
     
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  17. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Fretboard knowledge and theory is essential... for me all notes are in play at all times ...
    You can memorize every scale and mode ... but ... if you can't make a unique statement that is coherent and understandable that fits in the song ... ???
     
  18. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    Adding the major pent to the minor pent gives us three chromatic neighbors, most people have not seen this vertical comparison of major and minor pents.

    here are both pents side by side,

    Play over C7
    . C Major. . . . . C Minor
    ----3-------------3
    ----3-------------4
    ----2-------------3
    ----2-------------3
    ----3-------------3
    --------------------

    This gives us the four note run that Shango66 mentioned,
    D Eb E F

    By adding the b5/#4 (F#/Gb) to the two pents gives us a longer six note chromatic run, D Eb E F Gb G. Plus the two chromatic notes A and Bb.

    This gives us a very useful nine note scale for the blues,
    C7
    C D Eb E F Gb G A Bb

    That leaves only three notes not used, Db, Ab, and B, and they can be used as chromatic approach notes. So essentially all twelve notes can be used in the blues.
    And that's pretty cool, it's sort of like a safety net for risky improvisation.
     
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  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As I noted early in the thread....

     
  20. reckless toboggan

    reckless toboggan Tele-Holic

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    You lost me after unique statement...
     
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