Revenge of the Pentatonic Scale (Part 2)

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Just when you thought this scale had nothing more to offer, here's Part 2 of using the pentatonic scale in a brave new way. In Part 1, I demonstrated how to avoid using the typical A minor pentatonic scale to solo over an A minor chord by using a D minor pentatonic scale instead. Continuing on with the logic of treating A minor as the vi chord in the key of C major, it follows that the iii chord in this key is E minor, which contains the notes E, G, and B. By simply adding it’s 4th and 7th, you will create an E minor pentatonic scale (measure 1).
This scale works over A minor because it only introduces one new note – the B, which is a harmless 9th and welcome addition that won’t bother the listener. This means you can now use THREE different minor pentatonic scales to improvise over an A minor chord: the Amin, Dmin, and Emin pentatonic. In measures 2 to 4 above, notice how the same lick creates very different sounds when simply transposed into the three scales over the static A minor chord. With this method of pentatonic substitutions, you can get more mileage out of your old licks! A shorthand way of remembering this is to use minor pentatonic scales built from a minor chord's root, fourth, and fifth. So if you had to solo over an F#min, you could use F#, B and C# minor pentatonic scales. Tune in to Part 3 for even more possibilities! Do you want a song or solo transcribed / tabbed out for you? Contact me at for info - rates are competitive and delivery is quick!