Using Minor Pentatonic Over Major Chords

By Darren Powell
In Sep 11, 2018

The Minor Pentatonic scale is the all-so-famous scale most guitar players start with. It is almost evident everywhere in music. It is in the main riff of Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple and in Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. ‘Pent’ is the Greek word for ‘five’. So how is it that we have stumbled on a 5-note scale that has so many possibilities? I will talk about the minor pentatonic scale in particular and what options as a guitar player you would have from applying it.

Music at its best is demonstrated with tension and release. Some notes that we play as guitar players will have you feeling very comfortable or they will have you feeling as if that note needs to go to another note so that you can feel at ease. Thankfully, the minor pentatonic comes stacked with the notes in music all people like. Many people have been deceived that the minor pentatonic only works over a blues or a minor chord, but I want to take you through the applications of the minor pentatonic over a major chord.

How To Use The Minor Pentatonic Over Major Chords

There are three applications for the minor pentatonic on a C Major chord: Pentatonic on the 3rd, 6th and 7th – in other words, we start playing the root of our minor pentatonic from 3rd, 6th or 7th chord tone of the C Major Chord. The first application on the E note will give you a conventional major sound with tensions 9 and 13 at your disposal, but the 7th note will still be there. The 2nd application on the 6th degree (A) of the scale will give you a major 69 sound.

You will not have the major 7th note in this scale, so when you’re playing the chord you have the option to omit the 7th note. The 3rd application, playing from B, will give you a Lydian sound. Lydian is the fourth mode of the major scale. It is a normal major scale with a sharp 4 in it as opposed to the regular 4th. The pentatonic, when applied off of B, gives you the F# in the scale so you have a new sound to play with.

So with this information, when you are faced with a major chord, you now have three options and luckily none of them is the dreaded major scale or even an arpeggio. Have fun and explore new interesting and colourful sounds.

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* Over 4000 teaching hours * Graduated from Tshwane University of Technology 2016 Degree in Music * Has the ability to watch a TV series whilst practicing guitar * Plays as a session musician locally and abroad

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