The sound of the Pentatonic scale is often associated with certain genres like rock, blues, country and western, but it certainly has it’s place within modern jazz and fusion as well. Most of us come from another genre to jazz and have certain ways of using the Pentatonic scale that is a bit harder to get to work in jazz. This lesson will show you some ways to come up with some more fresh sounding Pentatonic ideas.
All the examples are using E minor pentatonic, because I was in that kind of a mood that day.
Reshaping the Pentatonic shapes
The first example is demonstrating how you can use an alternative fingering for a standard CAGED or two note per string scale fingering.
The new way of playing the scale is using an alternating pattern of 3 and 1 notes per string. The Advantage is that this makes it easier to play for your right hand and also makes it easy to play some of the 4ths intervals within the scale.
You can see in the begining of the phrase in example 1 how I use this.
The fingering is shown here below in example 2:
3 notes per string and a II V I in D major
The 2nd lick is a II V I in D major and the Em pentatonic part (on the II chord) is making use of a 3 notes per string way of playing the scale.
The advantages to playing 3 notes per string with the pentatonic scale are that you get to explore a huge chunk of the neck and that it automatically helps you connect the different two notes per string positions while ascending the neck.
The lick is shown here below in example 3:
The line is using only the top part of the 3nps pattern since the entire pattern is a bit long.
The 3 note per string verison of the E minor pentatonic is shown here below:
Extending the 2 note per string pattern upwards and downwards
This example is making use of the 3 note per string pattern to make it easier to play faster and more intervallic runs is . Instead of thinking of the scale as a row of notes I am thinking of the two notes per string position with an upwards and downwards extension of one note for each string.
This gives me two 3 notes per string patterns, but they both have doubled notes since the last note on a string is the first note of the next string.
This can be practical for some types of lines, but the doubled notes can also make it hard to make sense of the melodies you make with these patterns.
The lick is shown here below in example 5:
The “extended” versions of the scales are shown here below:
Making use of these ideas
The ideas I show here are mostly just short glimpses of what is possible with these principles and of course you should sit down and explore them further to see what you can use them for. Probably the first step is that the lick I played or the scale will in some way inspire you to come up with something?
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