• Here’s Another Smart Way To Remember Any Major Pentatonic Scale

    in Blues music,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Scales

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    If you are interested in learning another smart way to remember any major pentatonic scale, then this lesson is for you.

    The major pentatonic scale is one of the scales most musicians find very useful — irrespective of their skill level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) or style (gospel, jazz, rock, and so on).

    That’s why it’s very important for every serious musician to learn how any give major pentatonic scale can be remembered.

    A Short Note On Major Sixth Chords

    The major sixth chord consists of the following scale tones:

    The first

    The third

    The fifth

    The sixth

    Using the C major scale:

    …as a reference, the first, third, fifth, and sixth tones — which are C, E, G, and A respectively — when played or heard together, produces the C major sixth chord:

    The major sixth chord is the one of the rare major chord types because of the cluster between its 5th and 6th tone, giving it a degree of dissonance.

    Formation Of The Major Sixth Chord Using Major Triads

    The major sixth chord can be formed using a corresponding major triad: for example, C major triad can be used to form the C major sixth chord.

    This chord formation can happen in 3 seconds or less and in two steps:

    Step 1 – Form a major triad.

    Step 2 – Add a note that is a whole step above the major triad.

    “Formation Of The F# Major Sixth Chord…”

    Step 1 – Form a major triad.

    The F# major triad consists of F#, A#, and C#:

    Step 2 – Add a note that is a whole step above the major triad.

    A whole step above the F# major triad:

    …is D#:

    Therefore, adding D#:

    …to the F# major triad:

    …produces the F# major sixth chord:

    Following the same procedure, any major sixth chord can be formed.

    Another Smart Way To Remember Any Major Pentatonic Scale

    Using the major sixth chord, anyone can recall 80% of the notes of the major pentatonic scale and I’ll tell you why this is so.

    A closer look at the C major sixth chord:

    …and the C major pentatonic scale:

    …shows that 4 out of 5 notes in the C major pentatonic scale are in the C major sixth chord.

    The notes of the C major sixth chord:

    C, E, G, and A

    …are all scale tones of the C major pentatonic scale. If you do the math, 4 out of 5 is 80%.

    Now that we’ve realized that 80% of the scale tones of the C major pentatonic scale are the chord tones of the C major sixth chord, let’s go ahead and realize the remaining 20%.

    How To Determine The Additional 20% Of The Major Pentatonic Scale

    The remainder note of the pentatonic scale is easy to determine; especially for anyone who is conversant with the major natural major scale. Peradventure you’re not conversant with the tones of the natural major scale, you can still determine the remainder note by paying great attention to the next few lines.

    A whole step above the root of every major sixth chord is the remainder note of the major pentatonic scale. For example, a whole step above the C major sixth chord:

    …is D:

    …because from C:

    …to D:

    …is a whole step.

    So, D is the note we’re looking out for.

    Adding D:

    …to the C major sixth chord:

    …produces the C major pentatonic scale:

    The Formation Of The Major Pentatonic Scale Using The Major Sixth Chord

    Now that we’ve figured out how to determine 100% of the tones of the major pentatonic scale, let’s go ahead and form a few pentatonic scales before we draw the curtains for today.

    “Formation Of The E Major Pentatonic Scale…”

    The E major pentatonic scale cane be formed using the E major sixth chord:

    Considering that the notes of the E major sixth chord:

    …are only 80% of the notes in the E major pentatonic scale, we’ll have to figure out the remainder note — which is always a whole-step above the E major sixth chord.

    A whole step above E:

    …is F#:

    Consequently, F# is the remainder note. Adding F#:

    …to the E major sixth chord:

    …produces the E major pentatonic scale:

    “Formation Of The Ab Major Pentatonic Scale…”

    The Ab major pentatonic scale cane be formed using the Ab major sixth chord:

    Considering that the notes of the Ab major sixth chord:

    …are only 80% of the notes in the Ab major pentatonic scale, we’ll have to figure out the remainder note — which is always a whole-step above the Ab major sixth chord.

    A whole step above Ab:

    …is Bb:

    Consequently, Bb is the remainder note. Adding Bb:

    …to the Ab major sixth chord:

    …produces the Ab major pentatonic scale:

    “Formation Of The B Major Pentatonic Scale…”

    The B major pentatonic scale cane be formed using the B major sixth chord:

    Considering that the notes of the B major sixth chord:

    …are only 80% of the notes in the B major pentatonic scale, we’ll have to figure out the remainder note — which is always a whole-step above the B major sixth chord.

    A whole step above B:

    …is C#:

    Consequently, C# is the remainder note. Adding C#:

    …to the B major sixth chord:

    …produces the B major pentatonic scale:

    Final Words

    Having learned a smarter way to form the major pentatonic scale, I’m doubly sure that forming any other pentatonic scale on the keyboard would be pretty easy for you.

    Just lock down the major sixth chord and you have 80% of what you need, then determine the remainder note in 2 seconds or less.

    Its that easy!

    See you in the next lesson.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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