View Full Version : What on earth are mb5 and 7th pentatonics?

12-31-2002, 08:50 PM
What are minor flat 5 and seventh pentatonics and when do you use them?

Bongo Boy
12-31-2002, 11:23 PM
My approach to the problem is to thnk "chords are scales, scales are chords". 'Pentatonic' is a scale, but it can be harmonized like any other scale. So, for me at least, while there's barely enough context to get started, I start with 'what does b5 mean in the context of a pentatonic scale? I don't know what else to say at this point.

Can you elaborate on where this came from?

01-01-2003, 01:26 PM
I'm going to restate some understood concepts which have been thoroughly answered in many threads at IBreathe that explain the Minor Pentatonic, & Blues scales, but I will see if my explanation will answer part of your question.

the Minor Pentatonic scale is derived from the Natural Minor Scale(also known as the Aeolian Mode)
This can be confusing-even though it's redundant saying the Natural Minor Scale &/or Aeolian Mode this is just a Musicians way of communicating the same thing, in this case they're both the same scale with 2 names.

Formula for the Natural Minor scale(Aeolian Mode):
1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
in the key of Am:
A, B, C, D, E, F, G

This scale has 7 notes

The name Pentatonic means
Pent=a syllable that represents 5(usually a 5 note scale)
Tonic=Tone or note
so a Pentatonic scale is a 5 note scale it can be a Major scale or (in our example) a Minor Scale

Using the Notes &/or formula for the Natural Minor scale(Aeolian Mode) as a reference to create a Pentatonic scale:

Formula for the Pentatonic scale
1, b3, 4, 5, b7
in the key of Am:
A, C, D, E, G

This scale has 5 notes

(BTW:I'm not a Music Theory expert but I have studied & cont. to study Music!)
Music is just like a good movie it has parts where there are different levels of tension & then different levels of resolution!

How this information is used:
If you have a (Roman Numerals)

i = minor one chord
iv = minor four chord
V7= Dominant chord

so your jamming with your band and they are playing a i-iv-V7 progression in the key of Am (see above)& you want to improvise

option 1: use choose to play the notes (in any order) of the Minor Pentatonic scale,
Depending on what part of the progression you play certain notes of this scale- you will create tension.

but You typically will have "more tension " If you take this same Minor Pentatonic Scale & add an additional note, making this now a 6 note scale.

Formula for the Blues Scale:
1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7
in the key of Am:
A, C, D, Eb, E, G

When you refer to the "Minor b5 Pentatonic", I think you are referring to the Blues scale which as just stated is a Minor Pentatonic scale with an additional note the b5 Note

The b5 note is added to this Minor Pentatonic scale to create additional Tension, so if your improvising & you want additional tension you use the Blues scale & strategically use the b5 (ie. bending, slides, etc.)

I'm hoping I was able to answer at least part of your thread!

This is a long explanation, but I think it's important that we are all on the same level of understanding in order to Communicate.

I say this because I am not understanding what your asking when you say a "7th pentatonic" (but I have some theories as to what your trying to ask).
Could you please be very detailed & elaborate on the "7th Pentatonic" question!

Bongo Boy
01-01-2003, 05:09 PM
I have a long way to go before I understand the implications of this, but the following, taken from The New Harmony Book may help:

The preferred use of altered pentatonic scales is with dominants, i.e., dominant 7th chords. In the following example there are 6 scales, which have been formed by lowering the 2nd or 5th note of the major pentatonic scale by a half tone.What follows are the pentatonic scales themselves: a D maj with b5, Ab maj with b5, C maj with b2, Eb maj with b2, Gb maj with b2, and A maj with b2.

It seems likely that these altered pentatonics, because of their use over dom 7 chords, are referred to as 7th pentatonics. Note also that 2 of the 6 altered scales were altered by flatting the 5--so again, it could be that the two terms ('b5' and '7th') are used to describe the same thing.

I really need to study this.

NP: Autumn Leaves. Jim Hall on guitar

01-01-2003, 07:01 PM
I actually have the shapes written down in a magazine and they are altered pentatonics but I dont understand them and whento use them. Help!

Bongo Boy
01-01-2003, 09:08 PM
Let me suggest you go the the 'Learn' or 'Play' tabs (here, at this site), then use the search tool to search on 'pentatonics'. That will provide a start. Would you mind posting the notes that correspond to the shapes you referred to, or maybe reference the magazine issue an page? I'd like to bounce that against my little book here.

01-01-2003, 11:54 PM
Why don't you tab these out so the rest of us can have a clue what you are asking?
While you are at it see my articles on 'Moving from the Familiar to the Unfamiliar', where I discuss Pentatonics as they relate to modes and altering pentatonics.

You are going to have to get better at asking questions or you will not be taken seriously here. Your questions sound like you have read some 'buzzwords' and have absoultely no understanding of the question you are asking.

01-02-2003, 03:43 AM
"see my articles on 'Moving from the Familiar to the Unfamiliar', where I discuss Pentatonics as they relate to modes and altering pentatonics."

I've read these articles, very helpful szulc! :)

"In the following example there are 6 scales, which have been formed by lowering the 2nd or 5th note of the major pentatonic scale by a half tone."

"What follows are the pentatonic scales themselves: a D maj with b5, Ab maj with b5, C maj with b2, Eb maj with b2, Gb maj with b2, and A maj with b2."

in your book (& the example you stated above) does an Altered Pentatonic scale ONLY contain 5 notes?
or are the authors referring to a Altered Hybrid scale?
ie. based on a Pentatonic scale but after Alteration of the scale contains more than 5 notes.

an example would be Eric Johnson's use of the Pentatonic scale to improvise, but he ALTERS & Modifies this scale by ADDING the 2nd of the scale & the 6th. This creates a 7 note scale, thereby it is NOT usually referred to as a Pentatonic scale after the modification(which as previously stated only contains 5 notes).

01-02-2003, 07:16 PM

Dmb5 pentatonic:-


D7 pentatonics:-


Also, szluc could you please tell me where your articles on 'Moving from the Familiar to the Unfamiliar' are. Thanks. :-)

01-02-2003, 09:01 PM
The Dm7b5 Pentatonic is usually used together with these chords:


Should the D7 pentatonic look like this? 3rd fret on the b-string?


It's not a pentatonic - just an arpeggio (4 notes), ie all the chord tones of D7: d f# a c


01-03-2003, 02:03 AM

02-20-2005, 05:47 PM
Just a quick question when you say play a b5 in a chord you usually drop the fifth note by a semitone and not actually play the 5th but it seems to be played in this Pentatonic Minor b5 scale. Is tht ok?


02-20-2005, 06:51 PM
A m7b5 pentatonic is 1 b3 4 b5 7. Its got an upper extention (the 11), but that sounds great against a m7b5 chord.

02-21-2005, 11:40 AM
Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this but there is a 'Dominant 7 Pentatonic'.It's basically a modification of the major pentatonic with the difference being a b7 replacing the 6.

In G for instance:

G Major pentatonic - 1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6 = G - A - B - D - E

G Dom7 pentatonic - 1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - b7 = G - A - B - D - F

The G Dom7 pentatonic would obviously be best used with a G7 chord.

If we used the same notes (G-A-B-D-F) but instead used them over a Dmin chord we would now have what i've seen refered to as a 'Dorian penatonic' or 'Minor6 pentatonic.

D Minor pentatonic - 1 - 3 - 4 - 5 - b7 = D - F - G - A - C

D Dorian pentatonic - 1 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 = D - F - G - A - B

Hope this is of some help.

02-21-2005, 11:44 AM

D Minor pentatonic - 1 *b3* 4 - 5 - b7 = D - F - G - A - C

D Dorian pentatonic - 1 *b3* 4 - 5 - b7 = D - F - G - A - B

02-21-2005, 11:46 AM
Oh dear.....

D Dorian pentatonic - 1 - b3 - 4 - 5 - 6 = D - F - G - A - B


02-21-2005, 11:54 AM
Here's another thought.

Take the same 5 notes again (G-A-B-D-F) and use them along with a Bm7b5 chord and we have:


So we'd have all the notes to imply a Bm7b5 chord (Bm7b5 contains the same notes as a Dmin6 chord B-D-F-A.....D-F-A-B)

Hope this helps.