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The Music Scale that will transform your skills

THE PENTATONIC SCALES


   In English language, penta means five. Therefore, the pentatonic scale is a scale that comprises of five notes only. The name 'Pentatonic' is a compound name, built from two simple names, 'Penta' and 'tonic'. Simply put, in contrast to the Heptatonic scale (that has seven notes per octave), Hexatonic scale (that has six notes per octave), Octatonic scale (that has eight notes per octave), a pentatonic scale, has five notes per octave, and these five notes are an entrance to an endless possibility. They are five notes that will change your life.

   The pentatonic scale is one of the most used scale in modern and even traditional music. Among the many traditions that use the pentatonic scales are:
English Folk Music, German Folk Music, Jazz, Blues, Rock Music, Gospel Music, American Folk Music, Hungarian Folk Music, West African Music, Greek Traditional Music, Native American Music, China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Afro-Caribbean Music. Over the years, the pentatonic scale has been modified by many ancient civilizations.

   In relation to many other scales, the pentatonic scale is super easy to understand. After this post, you will find it easy to form solos, licks, riffs and so on, just by using this guy. He is going to be giant helping hand.
   Many composers have been able to compose songs using this simple scale. One of the most popular hymns composed on the pentatonic scale is 'Amazing Grace' by John Newton. Other songs are:

  • Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
  • Old McDonald had a Farm 
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away
  • My Girl - The Temptations

The Types of Pentatonic Scales


   There are two types of pentatonic scales, and they are the major and minor pentatonic scales. From statistics, the minor pentatonic scale is slightly more used than the major, although both are almost the same. From the above types, other sub-types evolve from them. Some of these sub-types are from various music styles or scales. A very good example is the Blues pentatonic scales (from the Blues scales), and the modal Ionian Pentatonic scale. There also exists some others like Peruvian, Ghana, Hard, Whole tone penatonic scales. In this post, we will only discuss about the major and minor pentatonic scales.

  THE MAJOR PENTATONIC SCALE


   Usually, the major pentatonic scale is the first type piano teachers introduce to students. The scale is a happy sounding scale and it is very easy to move up and down. For instance, unlike the major scale (excluding key C) that one has to bend through the white and black keys, the major pentatonic scales of C, F, G and F# contain only white and black notes.

  It is super easy to build a major pentatonic scale! In this post, I will teach you two simple ways you can use in building yours.

   The first method is what I call the "Exclusion Method". As earlier said, the pentatonic scale consists of five notes. The five notes are the 12356 of the major scale. That is, the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth degrees of the major scale gives us a major pentatonic scale. In solfa notation, that is do re mi sol la.

   In this first method, we will first build our major scale, using the T-T-S-T-T-T-S rule,and then take out the fourth and seventh notes of the major scale. This leaves us with the pentatonic scale. For instance, in key C major, our major scale give us:
C D E F G A B C. This is do re mi fa so la ti do
Let us exclude the fourth(F) and seventh(B) notes. We are finally left with C D E G A. This is the C major pentatonic scale. If you check keenly, the five notes are: do re mi so la. This is how to build a major pentatonic using the first formula.

   The second formula is the direct method. It is the scale formula. The formula for constructing a major pentatonic scale is 1 2 3 5 6. The notes are gotten from the major scale.
Here is a shortcut: Just pick out the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth degrees of the major scale - that gives us the major pentatonic scale.

 The interval between the third and fourth scale degrees is a minor third.


MAJOR PENTATONIC SCALES OF ALL KEYS


   In this section, you will be provided with the accurate pentatonic scales of all 12 keys, each with diagrams, and the fingerings to be applied. Please note that it is not mandatory to use the fingerings provided in this post.

For both hands
Thumb=1, Index=2, Middle=3, Ring=4, Pinky=5
LH represents Left Hand
RH represents Right Hand



C

Notes: C, D, E, G, A, C
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

C# / Db

Notes: C#, D#, F, G#, A#, C#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2
Fingerings (RH): 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4

D

Notes: D, E, F#, A, B, D
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4

D# / Eb

Notes: D#, F, G, A#, C, D#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

E

Notes: E, F#, G#, B, C#, E
Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

F

Notes: F, G, A, C, D, F
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4

F# / Gb

Notes: F#, G#, A#, C#, D#, F#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

G

Notes: G, A, B, D, E, G
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4

G# / Ab

Notes: G#, A#, C, D#, F, G#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3

A

Notes: A, B, C#, E, F#, A
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1

A# / Bb

Notes: A#, C, D, F, G, A#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3

B

Notes: B, C#, D#, F#, G#,B
Fingerings (LH): 1, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1


ALTOGETHER, WE HAVE

C: C, D, E, G, A, C
C#/Db: C#, D#, F, G#, A#, C#
D: D, E, F#, A, B, D
D#/Eb: D#, F, G, A#, C, D#
E: E, F#, G#, B, C#, E
F: F, G, A, C, D, F
F#/Gb: F#, G#, A#, C#, D#, F#
G: G, A, B, D, E, G
G#/Ab: G#, A#, C, D#, F, G#
A: A, B, C#, E, F#, A
A#/Bb: A#, C, D, F, G, A#
B: B, C#, D#, F#, G#, B



THE MINOR PENTATONIC SCALE


   The minor pentatonic scale is built on the minor scale, by playing the 1 3 4 5 7 of the natural minor scale. Following the theory of the relative minor, the major pentatonic scale has the exact notes as its relative minor. C major pentatonic has the same notes as A minor; the only difference is the tonic. This is a brilliant way of deriving the scale.

   You can make a major song sound minor, if you play it's relative minor, and vice versa. We can spice things us this way.
  The formula for constructing this awesome scale is 1 b3 4 5 b7
The "b" represents flat, which means to move down a half step.

   The Pentatonic Minor from the Minor scale

   You can easily form a minor pentatonic scale from the natural minor scale by taking out the second and sixth degrees of the natural minor scale. Another way is to directly play the first, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh degrees of the natural minor scale. Through this, we have our pentatonic minor.

THE PENTATONIC MINOR SCALE OF ALL 12 KEYS WITH FINGERINGS AND PICTURES


   In this section, you will be provided with the accurate pentatonic scales of all 12 keys, each with diagrams, and the fingerings to be applied. Please note that it is not mandatory to use the fingerings provided in this post.

For both hands
Thumb=1, Index=2, Middle=3, Ring=4, Pinky=5
LH represents Left Hand
RH represents Right Hand


Cm
Notes: C, Eb, F, G, Bb, C
Fingerings (LH): 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

C#m / Dbm
Notes: C#, E, F#, G#, B, C#
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

Dm
Notes: D, F, G, A, C, D
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

D#m / Ebm
Notes: D#, F#, G#, A#, C#, D#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Em
Notes: E, G, A, B, D, E
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Fm
Notes: F, Ab, Bb, C, Eb, F
Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

F#m / Gbm
Notes: F#, A, B, C#, E, F#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

Gm
Notes: G, Bb, C, D, F, G
Fingerings (LH): 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1

G#m / Abm
Notes: G#, B, C#, D#, F#, G#
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 5, 4, 3, 2
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Am
Notes: A, C, D, E, G, A
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

A#m / Bbm
Notes: A#, C#, D#, E#, G#, A#
Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3
Fingerings (RH): 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3

Bm
Notes: B, D, E, F#, A, B
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2


ALTOGETHER, WE HAVE
C: C, Eb, F, G, Bb, C
C#/Db: C#, E, F#, G#, B, C#
D: D, F, G, A, C, D
D#/Eb: D#, F#, G#, A#, C#, D#
E: E, G, A, B, D, E
F: F, Ab, Bb, C, Eb, F
F#/Gb: F#, A, B, C#, E, F#
G: G, Bb, C, D, F, G
G#/Ab: G#, B, C#, D#, F#, G#
A: A, C, D, E, G, A
A#/Bb: A#, C#, D#, E#, G#, A#
B: B, D, E, F#, A, B

Don't forget to check out my previous tutorial on The Neapolitan Scales!

Resources:
Pianoscales.orgPiano Conpanion

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