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Mastering Pentatonic Scales – Part 3

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Welcome back! If you've been following our "Mastering Pentatonic Scales" series, you've already dived into the intricacies of this iconic guitar sound in our previous posts. In Part 1, we introduced you to the fundamental concept and structure of the Pentatonic scale. Moving forward, in Part 2, we moved deeper into learning the scale by learning a technique to join the patterns together by using slides in order to perceive the entire scale.

In this third instalment, we're stepping beyond theory, focusing on applying these Pentatonic patterns to your playing style and learning the secret to begin connecting our ear to the entire pentatonic scale.

Naming What You Hear

Here is the goal - to create and perform music that's uniquely our own. A significant part of achieving this goal lies in incorporating the distinct 'sound' of different scales, such as the major or minor Pentatonic, into our musical toolbox. It's about creating a vast repository of sounds, ideas, and emotions that we can draw upon whenever we want.

This is where scale degrees come into the picture. These are essentially the individual notes that make up a scale. Whether it's the root (the first note of a scale), the 3rd (the third note, which defines whether the scale is major or minor), or any other degree, each has a unique 'voice.' Recognizing these voices and how they interact and sound is a cornerstone of effective melody creation and improvisation.

Also, it's vital to grasp the relationship between these notes – whether it's a whole step (two semitones distance between notes), a minor 3rd (three semitones distance), or any other interval. This knowledge kicks your musical comprehension up a notch, letting you see not just individual notes but also the broader context of melodies, harmonies, and the overarching story of your music.

In the video tutorial below, I dive right into a typical minor pentatonic lick. I break it down, studying how each piece interacts with the scale. With an emphasis on understanding the whole context. The aim is to develop a habit of naming every pentatonic idea that we learn and to use the context to play it in all the other pentatonic patterns. Over time it simplifies the once large pentatonic scale into a sound that you will be able to express on every part of the fretboard freely. Another interesting skill will start to develop as you practice this habit. When you hear pentatonic licks in your head or on a recording, you will start to hear them in numbers allowing you to translate them to the fretboard immediately.

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