Pentatonic Scale Improvisation
Welcome to lesson 3 in the Minor Blues course. In lessons 1 & 2, we covered the fundamentals of left hand voicings of chords in our standard 12 bar minor blues. We then introduced inversions, substitutions, passing chords, and turnarounds to add interest and variety to the chord changes.
In this lesson, we will introduce right hand improvising primarily using the notes of the minor pentatonic scale and the minor blues scale.
The Pentatonic Scale Explained
The major pentatonic scale can be defined by 5 scale degrees of the major scale, just as the minor pentatonic scale can be defined by 5 scale degrees of the natural minor scale.
Similar to the major and minor scale, the minor pentatonic scale is the relative minor of the major pentatonic scale. And each major pentatonic scale contains the same notes as some minor pentatonic scale built off the 5th scale degree of that major pentatonic scale (a major 6th above the major pentatonic’s root or a minor 3rd below)
Choosing Pentatonic Scales
We will start by playing the i minor pentatonic/blues over the whole form, examining the notes from the scale and what scale degrees they are for each chord.
Using just 1 pentatonic scale over the whole form will help you internalize each of the scale degrees of our minor blues, and hear exactly how they sound over each chord in the form. You should know what sound is going to come out when you press a certain key.
Starting with simple 2 or 3 note patterns, we will gradually increase the complexity of our lines. To start, you should focus on developing simple rhythmic lines, rather than learning complex licks
Pentatonic Scale Choices
Just like in the standard blues, you can play the minor pentatonic/blues of the iv chord over the iv chord itself. We will analyse the notes and scale degrees to see how this interacts with the harmony throughout the form.
Following this process will allow you to make wiser choices on note selection over the various chords in the progression.
Combining Pentatonic Scales
The next step is to combine the different pentatonic scales to create more melodic possibilities. We will explore how to combine the pentatonic and blues scales for C and F to access a wider pool of notes.
In the next lesson, we will explore and apply the dorian mode, various forms of minor scales, as well as the altered scale and half whole diminished scale.
Minor Blues Progression PDF File Type: pdf