JazzBo's Introduction to scales,chords,and theories...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by frankencow150, Dec 3, 2001.

  1. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    Hey Jazzbo,i found your instructional on this really good.I still don't understand why people say it is so easy improvise on the pentatonic scale?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    The pentatonic scales are really nothing more than major and minor scales with two notes removed. The two notes that were removed (4 and 7 in major, 2 and 6 in minor) are the two most dissonant notes against the tonic chord of the key, so improvising with the pentatonic scales in either major or minor is kind of like driving a bumper car - since you have rubber bumpers on all sides, you can sort of tool around aimlessly without doing any damage to your vehicle...or, to put that another way, the two notes of each scale most likely to produce major CLAMS have already been removed, so you can solo seafood-free, so to speak.

    (Apologies to Oysterman....)
  3. :eek: Truly amazing, I want that stenciled on my rack case.
  4. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    i know and can play pentatonic scales,but i still dont understand why its easier to improvise.Why isnt just as easy to improvise on major scales as pentatonic scales if u memorize how to make both of them?
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Because the major scale contains two notes which must be handled with much more care than the others (as mentioned above, these two notes are the two most likely candidates to produce CLAMS (otherwise known as WRONG-SOUNDING NOTES or TREADMARKS ON YER JOHNSON)). Since the pentatonic scale has already had these two "handle with care" notes surgically removed, it is much easier to solo without worrying about hitting clunkers all the time. The flip side of this is that playing pentatonics all the time tends to make solos sound somewhat predictable and bland.

    If your question is regarding whether pentatonics are physically easier to play than major/minor scales, well, that's a matter of opinion....but I'd say that, all things considered, they are about equal in physical difficulty.
  6. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    ...and if I could add anything I would...
  7. I was working this week on ideas for a solo in a zydeco waltz that has a strong major 6th sound. Any "outside" notes really seem harsh on this tune. I had stepped on my... well, let's just say I wasn't happy with how my solos were going when I just winged them. While doing the pentatonic inversions I ran up on the "box". I had kind of forgotton about it since I tend to think more in terms of sounds, rather than fingerboard patterns.

    Starting on the second note of the Major pentatonic, or the third note of the minor pentatonic gives you a fretboard "box" that is built whole step, minor third, whole step, minor third, whole step.
    Cmaj: D, E, G, A, C, D
    Bb minor: Eb, F, Ab, Bb, Db, Eb
    C Maj/A min: D, E, G, A, C, D

    That's as far as it goes in instruments tuned in fourths, but with the major third tuned B string on guitars it can be extended with the fretboard pattern started on the A string. You get a combination of inside notes that can be bent "blue" and outside notes that can be bent in. On the B string you get another Maj 3rd, then a flat 5, on the G string a 6 and Maj 7. That may be why "people" are telling frankencow how easy it is to solo with pentatonics. Two finger "inside" arpeggio with some nice bends and blue notes on top for drama.

    In old rock, country, etc., I've heard tons of guitar solos based on this and other "boxes". I don't know if it's because of the tonality, the ability to get repetitive hammer ons, the blue notes, because it's "easy" to play with just two fingers or all of the above. I do know that I've played with many guitarists who seem trapped in this style. (Yeah, but I didn't want to mix an analogy and a metaphor. I also avoided the term "relative minor" for the sake of us southerners. ;) )