Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales

Learn the major and minor pentatonic scales

Learning scales is an important part of learning a musical instrument. As musicians we should think of scales as our "building blocks" for creating and playing melodies.

The major pentatonic scale

For us guitar players, two of the most common scales used in Rock and Pop songs are the Major and Minor Pentatonic scales.

As the name suggests, a Pentatonic scale consists of 5 notes in one octave. So for example, our C major pentatonic scale consists of the following notes:

C, D, E, G, A, and then the scale repeats from the next C note an octave higher than the note we started on.

So that we can learn the Major pentatonic in all keys, we must know the intervals that they consist of.

Intervals: 1- 2- 3- 5- 6.

The minor pentatonic scale

Secondly, our Minor Pentatonic Scale. This scale consists of the following intervals:

1- b3- 4- 5 - 7 Then the scale repeats an octave higher.

For a moment try thinking, if these are the intervals then what would the notes of the A minor Pentatonic be?..... Grab a pen and paper and see if you can figure it out.

So, the notes of the A minor pentatonic are: A, C, D, E, G.

Comparing major and minor

So, the notes of the A minor pentatonic are: A, C, D, E, G.

For the eager-eyed you may notice that A minor pentatonic and C major pentatonic consist of the same notes, this is because the Major and Minor pentatonic scale are related!

Let's look at the two of these scales side by side:

A Minor Pentatonic: A- C- D - E - G

C Major Pentatonic Scale: C- D- E - G- A.

So what we can see is that our Major Pentatonic is the same as our Minor Pentatonic but starting on the 3rd. And that our Minor pentatonic scale is the same as our major pentatonic but starting on the 6th.

Classic riffs

Once you've got these scales down, try learning these classic riffs:

Sweet Child O' Mine- Guns and Roses.

Black Dog- Led Zepplin

Superstition- Stevie Wonder.

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