Tag Archives: locrian pentatonic scale

The Great Thing About Pentatonic Scales For Jazz And How To Use Them

You can create fantastic Jazz licks using Pentatonic Scales! This lesson will give you some great examples and exercises for that!

Pentatonic scales can be great because usually, Jazz solos are about arpeggios and chromatic leading notes

But that is not always what you want to sound like, just focusing on spelling out the harmony

And this is where you can use Pentatonic scales, because they can give you a very different sound and you most likely already know how to play them.

So let’s look at how you can use Pentatonic scales to create shifting minor pentatonic tricks, lines for altered dominants and, one of my favourites which is a pentatonic scale for maj7 chords.

  • Shifting Pentatonics
  • Altered Pentatonics
  • Great Maj7 Pentatonic

It is not all Clapton licks with this scale…

Shifting Minor Pentatonic

One thing that works really well with these scales is to take melodies and shift them around on top of the chords.

An example could be to choose 3 pentatonic scales for the progression and then use the shifting nature in the melodies. For example, you can use Dm on Dm7, Fm pentatonic on G7, and Em pentatonic on Cmaj7.

Check out how that sounds, and how it is really just moving the melody around on the progression.

This is all really just using this pentatonic scale


And especially these melodies, but then I am changing things up because it gets a bit boring and predictable if you don’t watch out.

I’ll return to how much I hate later in the video with my least favorite pentatonic trick.

A lot of this is just about playing interesting rhythms:

Bebop Vs Pentatonics – what is the difference

I am sure you can hear how the pentatonic melodies sound different. The main difference is in what notes are used, when you only have 5 notes then you get this really pure sound which is very different from a line similar to what I played at the beginning of the video where I am using all scale notes AND some chromatic notes

Bebop lines are dense very directional melodies that move from one target note to the next are pretty different from pentatonic melodies that are more floating on top.


Another thing that you also want to notice is how the bebop lines rely heavily on arpeggios: Like Dm7, Fmaj7 and B diminished

Exercises to help create Pentatonic Melodies

In a pentatonic scale there are not that many arpeggios and you want to work on playing other structures, so it is really useful to explore exercises like this:

or this

Which will help you create more interesting melodies that really capture the sound and not just run up and down the scale. You want your melodies to have more this type of sound:

Altered Dominant

The next thing to figure out, before we get to the pentatonic hack that I have grown to hate, is how to use a pentatonic scale on a G7alt chord. The Fm pentatonic I used in the previous examples was sort of a hack, but you can do this in a different way:

G7 altered is Ab melodic minor:

Ab Bb B Db Eb F G Ab

And in this scale there is one minor pentatonic scale:

Bbm pentatonic:

Bb Db Eb F Ab

This is a great set of notes for a G7 since you have

Bb Db  Eb  F    Ab

#9 b5 b13 b7  b9

All the good notes!

So now you can use Dm7, Bbm7, and Em7 on the II V I, and this example I am using the basic box 1 Bbm pentatonic:

and you can hear how you get a more modern-sounding melody out of it:

Maj7 and Maj7(#11) pentatonic

And then we get to the hack that everybody is always trying to use and most of the time sound like this:

This is clearly moving up pentatonic scales in the most mechanical and predictable way possible, and it is really easy to avoid creativity with this, but you can do some nice things with it.

The scales are Am pentatonic on Dm7, Bbm on G7 alt and Bm pentatonic on Cmaj7

Bm pentatonic is a great scale for a Lydian sound:

B      D E  F#   A

maj7 9 3 #11 13

So really just all the rich sound notes in the chord.

Am pentatonic works fine but also is a little bland because we don’t have the F in there.


5 b7 1 9 11

Instead of just moving up the same very square melody you could use this in a line like this:

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5 Pentatonic Scales That Are Great On A Maj7

Pentatonic scales are a great resource to get some solid melodies and colorful extensions to shine on a maj7 chord. In this video, I am going to go over 5 options for pentatonic scales that are really great on a maj7 chord. Some of them you know already, but I will also show you how to get them to sound a little more interesting. A few others you probably don’t know and I actually had a hard time finding the right name for them.

I am going to go over the 5 scales but also give you some tips or hacks on how to make more interesting melodies with pentatonic scales because that is something that is very underestimated.

#1 Am Pentatonic (or C major)

The first one is sort of obvious: Am pentatonic is C major pentatonic so that works on this Cmaj7 chord. If you first try this then it probably sounds dull and lacks any interesting color, but that is a matter of the types of melodies you can make with a pentatonic scale as you will see in the example and  exercises If you look at the scale against a C then is sort of giving you the sound of an A C6/9 chord:

A C D E G 6 1  9 3 5

As you will see in this video I use the name of the pentatonic scales from the minor root because that is how most people first learned them. In the end it doesn’t matter too much what name it is as long as it is the same group of notes. In the line, I am using two open triads that are found in the scale, a 1st inversion Am and a root position C major. Using melodies like that can really change the sound a lot so that it does not have to sound like a Country solo when you use this scale. Another great exercise to check out on pentatonic scales is an exercise which is a bit like playing diatonic chords through the scale. An example of a line using this type of melody sounds like this: The scale I use here is another position which is this: and the exercise I use is coming from this pattern through the scale. ex 5

#2 Em Pentatonic

I have mentioned this one quite a few times before and it is a great sound on Maj7 chords: The minor pentatonic scale from the 3rd of the chord. This time I am also going to go over a little hack that I really like to get a different sound out of this scale. The scale could be played like this: Against the Cmaj7 it gives you these colors:

E G  A B D 3 5 13 7 9

and a lick using it sounds like this: Notice how I am again using the quartal arpeggios in the line to get a different sound.

The Blues Hack

A variation on this sound is to use the E blues scale on a Cmaj7. So this is the same scale but with an added Bb or A#. The added note does not fit with the Cmaj7 chord but does work well as a leading note for either the A or the B Using that could sound like this:

#3 Bm Pentatonic – Lydian sound

The final”normal” Pentatonic scale is using the minor pentatonic scale from the 7th of the chord. For Cmaj7 that is B minor pentatonic EX 10

With this scale we have:

B D E   F#  A 7 9 3 #11  13

So a lot of colors and especially the #11 that can be extra colorful if it is in a place that we expect to hear a tonic major chord. A line using the Bm pentatonic scale sounds like this:

#4 Hirajoshi Scale

This scale is actually a Cmaj7 chord with an added #11. From E it is E F# G B C but you could see it as Cmaj7:

C E G B plus F# 1 3 5 7        #11

The scale has a tritone which interval from C to F# and that really makes the melodies sound very different. You can play the scale like this: I am playing these scales with two notes per string because that means that I can easily translate my patterns from other pentatonic scales on to this, this means a few stretches but also makes it really easy to get a lot of vocabulary fast when you start using the scale. and if you use it in a line it sounds like this:

#5 Locrian Pentatonic

This scale I couldn’t find a name for, but I ended up calling it Locrian Pentatonic: F# A B C E. You could look at it as a F#minor pentatonic with a b5. if you have a better suggestion for a name  then feel free to let me know in the comments. This is also a scale giving you a #11 or Lydian sound on a maj7 chord. The scale I am using on the Cmaj7 is the F# Locrian Pentatonic: Against C that is

F#   A   B C E #11 13 7 1 3

You can play it like this: This scale also has the tritone between C and F# which I am using for some nice quartal arpeggios in the example like this: A great little exercise to get used to the sound of this scale is a variation of the chords exercise I went over in the beginning:

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