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Modal Pentatonics

Introduction to modal pentatonics

Yes, I know. Yeah, you don't need to tell me. OK ok, I know it's weird... yes, I have actually written a new article that is not an essay or rant of some kind. I am actually writing about something gasp guitar-related! After you have rubbed your eyes now, let's jump right in...

Modal pentatonics - believe it or not, I had never heard about these until I started studying at the GIT even though I had been reading a bunch of instructional books, magazines and stuff. But, once I was introduced to them, they made perfect sense to me.

They also helped me quite a bit to get into those mysterious "modes" everyone was talking about. In fact, I think they can be helpful to get into the modes for many other people as well. Especially since there seems to be a lot of confusion about the modes (and everyone seems to be convinced that he or she HAS to learn them ASAP).

So what are they?

OK, I'll try to explain it in a simple fashion. All you "musical scientists" out there must forgive me if I simplify things a bit too much. I am simply trying to explain it in layman's terms, and I hope it works.

As you probably know by now, you get a regular major pentatonic by removing two notes from each octave of the major scale... the 4th and 7th. In the key of C, that would mean we take out the F and B in order to get the C major pentatonic.

Now, if you remove the exact same notes from the relative minor scale, you get the minor pentatonic. In the key of C, A minor is the relative minor, and if you take out F and B, you get the A minor pentatonic. (the one everyone seems to know).

Check out the TAB below for more clarification:

OK. I think this is still pretty simple to understand, and I am certain that most of you had figured this out anyway.

Now for the leap of faith. I guess most of you aware that the minor scale could technically be seen as a mode of the major scale. It might make it easier if I throw in the term "aeolian", which is another name of the minor scale, and the name of the sixth mode.

C Major: C D E F G A B C
A Minor: A B C D E F G A

Now, I said before that if you take the 2nd and 6th note out of the minor scale, you get the minor pentatonic.

Now here is the big question: What happens if we take the 2nd and 6th note out of all the other modes as well?

What we get is *drum roll MODAL PENTATONICS.

Further explanation >>