Minor Pentatonic Scales
About a month ago, I posted a lesson on how to play pentatonic scales. If you’re not familiar with the major pentatonic scale, it may be a good idea to check out that lesson first… then return here to learn its minor counterpart.
As you learned in that post, this scale is called “pentatonic” because it has 5 notes. “Penta” is an ancient Greek prefix meaning “five.”
We unraveled the numerical names for other scales too…
Hexatonic (Hexatonic) = 6-note scale (example: “blues” scale)
Heptatonic (Heptatonic) = 7-note scale (example: “major” or “minor” scale)
Octatonic (Octatonic) = 8-note scale (example: “diminished” scale)
How to turn major pentatonic into minor pentatonic
In this lesson, I want to take it a step further and show you one easy shortcut you can implement to also learn all your minor pentatonic scales. Yes, minor!
The thing about minor stuff is that there’s always a relative major key you can piggy back on.
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Let me explain…
Just like you learned in this prior lesson, every major key has a relative minor key. This relative minor key pretty much shares EVERYTHING with this major key. They share the same notes in their scales (except you just start and end on different notes). They even share the same chords.
The secret is the 6th tone (this is nothing new… all of those past lessons I’ve linked to above cover this). To find the relative minor of any major key, you just go to the 6th tone. If you play the SAME EXACT major scale starting and ending on the 6th tone, there’s your minor scale! So if I basically play the C major scale, starting and ending on “A” instead of “C,” I’ll be playing an “A minor” scale. It’s as simple as that.
Well, the pentatonic scale works the same exact way! No joke!
Recall from my past lesson how to play a pentatonic scale…
You just play a major scale without the 4th and 7th tones.
That leaves you with:
1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 6
In the key of C major, that’s:
C D E G A
1 2 3 5 6
Repeated, it looks like this:
C D E G A C D E G A C D E G A C D E G A C D E G A
1 2 3 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 1 2 3 5 6
So, to play the minor pentatonic, you don’t change the notes you play (just like you don’t change the notes of the major scale when you play its relative minor scale). You just change your starting and ending points.
C D E G A C D E G [A C D E G] A C D E G A C D E G A C D E G A
1 2 3 5 6 1 2 3 5 [6 1 2 3 5] 6 1 2 3 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 1 2 3 5 6
So the “A minor pentatonic” scale is:
A C D E G
Repeated, it looks like this:
A C D E G A C D E G A…
Minor Pentatonic (Continued)
So that you can see another one at work, here’s the “Eb major pentatonic” scale:
Eb F G Bb C
Here it is repeated:
Eb F G Bb C Eb F G Bb C Eb F G Bb C
Since “C” is the 6th tone and therefore the relative minor of “Eb,” let’s play the C minor pentatonic scale from the same notes above.
C minor pentatonic
C Eb F G Bb
Minor Pentatonic and Blues Scale
C minor pentatonic (repeated)
C Eb F G Bb C Eb F G Bb C Eb F G Bb
Doesn’t that look like something to you?
YES YES YES!
The minor pentatonic scale is basically the blues scale with one missing note!
For example, the C blues scale is:
C Eb F Gb G Bb C
Versus the C minor pentatonic:
C Eb F G Bb C
*Note the flat 5th note in the blues scale example. That’s the only difference between a minor pentatonic scale and the blues scale.
So if you know your regular pentatonic scales, you know your minor pentatonic scales… and if you know your minor pentatonic scales, you know your blues scales!
Do you see these patterns? Once you start recognizing these systems and shortcuts, less and less of it will be memorization and more will be just understanding how to do something else from something that you already know… on the spot!
That’s the key! And that’s why the 300-pg home study course is so powerful. You learn the underlying systems, patterns, and shortcuts… not just memorization.
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So there you have it… minor pentatonic scales.