What pentatonic over 12 bar blues?

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pmbombpmbomb Frets: 35
I was happily playing Am pentatonic (ie shape 1 at the 5th fret, I understand the shapes and root notes) over 12 basic bar blues in A. It sounded OK to my inexperienced ears.

Then I watched this video (link below) and the tutor suggests moving the solo scale (shape) up 3 frets from the backing key to make it sound "blues", ie I'd be playing the shape in C over Am 12 bar.

Don't quite understand, was I wrong, or can both work? Can anyone clarify?

Thank you.


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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 589
    edited December 1
    I think he means that moving the major pentatonic up three frets makes it sound more bluesy. If you're playing a minor pentatonic then, in effect, it's already moved up three frets relative to the related major pentatonic. 

    As you're already playing a minor pentatonic, if you move it down three frets it will be the related major pentatonic and will sound more major or 'country music'.
    It's not a competition
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  • pmbombpmbomb Frets: 35
    edited December 1
    ok thx - maybe I need to understand difference between minor and major pentatonic, I thought they were the same (ie pentatonic is neutral not major or minor so A major and A minor are the same shapes in the same places).

    I'll look into it more.

    Here's where the talks about moving up 3 frets:


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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 589
    edited December 1
    The video in your most recent link isn't working at the moment. You might have to edit your post and reinsert the link.

    The major and minor pentatonics aren't the same notes.

    The common major and minor pentatonics have the following intervals.
    Major is 1  2  3  5  6
    Minor is 1 b3 4 5 b7

    It just so happens that they have the same shapes that can be thought of as being 3 fret apart. So moving the major pentatonic up three frets turns it into a minor pentatonic, or moving the minor pentatonic three frets down turns it into a major pentatonic.

    Play an A major and hold the sound in your head. Now play your 'minor pentatonic' pattern. Then play it again three frets down and you'll hear the different sound of the minor and major pentatonics. The major pentatonic sounds more 'country music' like to me.

    These days I tend to think of it as starting on a different note in the pattern instead of the three fret movement, but use whatever works for you.
    It's not a competition
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  • pmbombpmbomb Frets: 35
    OK I had my basic assumption wrong then, I'll sit with my guitar and play it through.

    The second link is just a deeplink to 7:50 of the vid. The vid is from a country channel so their perspective on moving _up_ to blues makes sense.

    Thanks for taking the time to teach me.
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  • aord43aord43 Frets: 260
    edited December 1
    I am not very experienced in this but one option* is to play the major pent over the I chord (the A in this case) and the minor pent over the IV and V (the D and E in this case).  You'll find a lot of songs do this and it sounds good.

    *Edited - I originally said "rule" but "option" is a better word!
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 589
    edited December 1
    aord43 said:
    I am not very experienced in this but one option* is to play the major pent over the I chord (the A in this case) and the minor pent over the IV and V (the D and E in this case).  You'll find a lot of songs do this and it sounds good.

    *Edited - I originally said "rule" but "option" is a better word!
    That's quite common although you were correct to change "rule" to "option". Having familiarised yourself with the sounds, go with what your ears and imagination tell you at any given point.

    A good solo to learn the sound of mixing major and minor pentatonics, is Clapton's solo to Crossroads and there's a good tutorial below. The solo tutorial starts at about 7:35.


    It's not a competition
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  • pmbombpmbomb Frets: 35
    ta.

    for my future ref - good scale pictures showing minor and major side by side here:http://www.dariocortese.com/fretboard-skills/scales/
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6034
    The video in your most recent link isn't working at the moment. You might have to edit your post and reinsert the link.

    The major and minor pentatonics aren't the same notes.

    The common major and minor pentatonics have the following intervals.
    Major is 1  2  3  5  6
    Minor is 1 b3 4 5 b7

    It just so happens that they have the same shapes that can be thought of as being 3 fret apart. So moving the major up three frets turns it into a minor pentatonic, or moving the minor pentatonic three frets down turns it into a a major pentatonic.

    Play an A major and hold the sound in your head. Now play your 'minor pentatonic' pattern. Then play it again three frets down and you'll hear the different sound of the minor and major pentatonics. The major pentatonic sounds more 'country music' like to me.

    These days I tend to think of it as starting on a different note in the pattern instead of the three fret movement, but use whatever works for you.
    This.

    Play your A minor pentatonic shape starting and finishing on A notes. Now play the same shape but starting and finishing on C notes ( 3 frets up) and hey presto that's a C major pentatonic. 

    If you are playing an A minor pentatonic shape over a 12 bar in A that has major chords it probably sounds okay. The notes in your minor pentatonic won't fit exactly with the notes in your chords, that clash can sound bluesy or it can sound a bit wrong. You can add target notes from the chords to the pentatonic scale to sweeten it up a bit. Several options here but the obvious one would be to add the C# which is the third from the A major chord. Hammer on, pull off, slide, bend between the C note from your minor pentatonic shape and the additional C#. If bending you don't always have to be accurate, that ambiguity between the C and C# is classic blues. 

    You can just sit with a pen and paper and work out the names of the notes in your pentatonic scale ( A C D etc) and the basic notes of the chords ( root, third and fifth so for A major that's A C# E) and see which are the same and which aren't. The ones that are the same will sound the strongest ( playing the D from the pentatonic over the D chord for example) and the ones that aren't the same will sound less strong or clash a little ( but again that's not necessarily a bad thing and is used in blues playing, it will just help you make choices). Any notes in the chords that aren't in the minor pentatonic you can add to it whilst playing over the relevant chord. You will eventually be able to hear the chord changes in your solo playing as you won't be playing exactly the same thing over each chord. 

    I think it was Walter Becker who said if a note doesn't sound right then bend it to fit. 

    I'm sitting in Tesco car park typing on my phone so I don't know how clear that is! 
    I feel the warm, healing, liquid presence of God’s genuine cold-filtered grace. 
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  • pmbombpmbomb Frets: 35
    edited December 1
    Got it, ta. A good learning day! (attribution for the printed pics: http://www.dariocortese.com/fretboard-skills/scales/ )


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  • vizviz Frets: 4346
    The video in your most recent link isn't working at the moment. You might have to edit your post and reinsert the link.

    The major and minor pentatonics aren't the same notes.

    The common major and minor pentatonics have the following intervals.
    Major is 1  2  3  5  6
    Minor is 1 b3 4 5 b7

    It just so happens that they have the same shapes that can be thought of as being 3 fret apart. So moving the major up three frets turns it into a minor pentatonic, or moving the minor pentatonic three frets down turns it into a a major pentatonic.

    Play an A major and hold the sound in your head. Now play your 'minor pentatonic' pattern. Then play it again three frets down and you'll hear the different sound of the minor and major pentatonics. The major pentatonic sounds more 'country music' like to me.

    These days I tend to think of it as starting on a different note in the pattern instead of the three fret movement, but use whatever works for you.
    This.

    Play your A minor pentatonic shape starting and finishing on A notes. Now WITHOUT MOVING YOUR HAND, play the same NOTES but MISS OUT THE FIRST NOTE - THE A - SO YOU’RE starting and finishing on C notes ( 3 frets up) and hey presto that's a C major pentatonic. 

    Added a few words :)
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6034
    viz said:
    The video in your most recent link isn't working at the moment. You might have to edit your post and reinsert the link.

    The major and minor pentatonics aren't the same notes.

    The common major and minor pentatonics have the following intervals.
    Major is 1  2  3  5  6
    Minor is 1 b3 4 5 b7

    It just so happens that they have the same shapes that can be thought of as being 3 fret apart. So moving the major up three frets turns it into a minor pentatonic, or moving the minor pentatonic three frets down turns it into a a major pentatonic.

    Play an A major and hold the sound in your head. Now play your 'minor pentatonic' pattern. Then play it again three frets down and you'll hear the different sound of the minor and major pentatonics. The major pentatonic sounds more 'country music' like to me.

    These days I tend to think of it as starting on a different note in the pattern instead of the three fret movement, but use whatever works for you.
    This.

    Play your A minor pentatonic shape starting and finishing on A notes. Now WITHOUT MOVING YOUR HAND, play the same NOTES but MISS OUT THE FIRST NOTE - THE A - SO YOU’RE starting and finishing on C notes ( 3 frets up) and hey presto that's a C major pentatonic. 

    Added a few words :)
    Ha ha, that's right! Although for a first draft on Tesco car park I thought it was okay. 
    I feel the warm, healing, liquid presence of God’s genuine cold-filtered grace. 
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  • vizviz Frets: 4346
    viz said:
    The video in your most recent link isn't working at the moment. You might have to edit your post and reinsert the link.

    The major and minor pentatonics aren't the same notes.

    The common major and minor pentatonics have the following intervals.
    Major is 1  2  3  5  6
    Minor is 1 b3 4 5 b7

    It just so happens that they have the same shapes that can be thought of as being 3 fret apart. So moving the major up three frets turns it into a minor pentatonic, or moving the minor pentatonic three frets down turns it into a a major pentatonic.

    Play an A major and hold the sound in your head. Now play your 'minor pentatonic' pattern. Then play it again three frets down and you'll hear the different sound of the minor and major pentatonics. The major pentatonic sounds more 'country music' like to me.

    These days I tend to think of it as starting on a different note in the pattern instead of the three fret movement, but use whatever works for you.
    This.

    Play your A minor pentatonic shape starting and finishing on A notes. Now WITHOUT MOVING YOUR HAND, play the same NOTES but MISS OUT THE FIRST NOTE - THE A - SO YOU’RE starting and finishing on C notes ( 3 frets up) and hey presto that's a C major pentatonic. 

    Added a few words :)
    Ha ha, that's right! Although for a first draft on Tesco car park I thought it was okay. 
    It was, it was gorgeous, I just misinterpreted it at first and thought to add a couple of clarifications :)
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 6855
    Hows about the major pentatonic over the 1st 4 bars of the I chord, going into the minor pentatonic over the IV chord? I love the squeaky clean turns sleazy change of feel ...
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  • BlueingreenBlueingreen Frets: 543
    edited December 6
    When playing a minor pentatonic in a 12 bar blues  it's more or less impossible to play a "wrong" note.  That's why it's the perfect starting point for beginners trying to feel their way into improvisation.

    Major pentatonic is less safe - some notes will jar if you are not careful.  You can develop theoretical "rules" to avoid that, but listening to guys who use a lot of major pentatonic (the most obvious one is B B King) and trusting to your ear will probably get you there faster than theory.
    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.” Bertrand Russell

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  • Hows about the major pentatonic over the 1st 4 bars of the I chord, going into the minor pentatonic over the IV chord? I love the squeaky clean turns sleazy change of feel ...
    any examples?
    My trading feedback

    is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?

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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 6855
    Hows about the major pentatonic over the 1st 4 bars of the I chord, going into the minor pentatonic over the IV chord? I love the squeaky clean turns sleazy change of feel ...
    any examples?
    I'm sure I've recorded one but wouldn't be able to find it in a hurry. Try it next time you jam or record. :)
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  • Awwbloodandtears said:
    Hows about the major pentatonic over the 1st 4 bars of the I chord, going into the minor pentatonic over the IV chord? I love the squeaky clean turns sleazy change of feel ...
    any examples?
    The Crossroads solo I posted earlier in this thread.

    Also, if you want to include a jazzy Robben Ford touch, it's cool to play the half step whole step scale on the I chord in the bar before it moves to the IV chord.

    It's not a competition
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  • modellistamodellista Frets: 373
    Another internet guitar lesson where they teach confusing things for no discernible reason.

    Why on earth would you teach someone that they have to play a C scale over an Am?  The he proceeds to end his solo on the A anyway which pretty much makes a mockery of starting on C.

    If you want to solo over Am, play the Am pentatonic. Start on the A note.  Forget about moving to C, that's just pointless confusion.

    Your printed scales are correct, start your Am pentatonic on the A (red dot) and you can't go wrong.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4346
    edited December 7

    Your printed scales are correct, start your Am pentatonic on the A (red dot) and you can't go wrong.
    Exactly. I’d like to throw in a few thoughts about pentatonic scales that may help. Just talking through the fundamentals of major and minor scales, of pentatonics, and of relative keys. Apologies if everyone already knows all of this but I always think it’s useful to approach this from first principles, otherwise our understanding is not built on solid ground. Also, when thinking about this stuff it’s probably best to put the guitar down, forget about CAGED and shapes etc, and just read it and think about sounds. Sit next to a piano maybe.

    Right, the normal scales we know are ‘heptatonic’ - they have 7 notes from bottom to top, plus the repeated note at the top. The two most fundamental heptatonic scales in western music are the major and natural minor scales. 

    Choosing A as the key (home) note - meaning the scales must start and end on A - these scales are:

    A major: A B C# D E F# G# (A)
    A minor: A B C D E F G (A)

    You see that minor is like major, except it has a minor 3rd, a minor 6th and a minor 7th. Hence it sounds sad. The 3rd is the most important note for conveying a major vs a minor sound, followed by the 6th and then the 7th. 

    ‘Pentatonic’ scales have 5 notes. The two most fundamental pentatonic scales are subsets of the two heptatonic scales above:

    A major penta: A B C#   E F#   (A)
    A minor penta: A    C D E    G (A)

    You can see that A major penta only uses the 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 (and 8). And A minor penta only uses 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 (and 8). 

    Despite A major penta missing out the 4 and the 7, it still conveys a ‘happy’ sound because it has a major 3rd and also a major 6th. 

    And despite A minor penta missing out the 2 and 6, it still conveys a sad sound because it too has its minor 3rd, and also a minor 7th. 

    So, fundamentally, you can solo over a major piece like Ba-ba Black Sheep with a major pentatonic scale, and you can solo over a minor piece like Black Magic Woman with a minor pentatonic scale. 

    Then we come to blues. In blues music you can use a minor 3rd and a minor 7th even on a major key. So your keyboard player can play A major chord (A C# E) and you can play the notes from A minor pentatonic - A C D E G! Those conflicts between the major C# note and the minor C note, and between the expected G# note of the major chord (which your keyboard player didn’t play but it’s in his mind) and your minor 7th note, the G, is what makes you sound ‘bluesy’. 

    And because the pentatonic scales use so few notes to convey their sound, they’re incredibly flexible. They can be used in many contexts. So when the keyboard player moves to the IV chord, D major, and plays D F# A, you can either play D minor pentatonic (D F G A C) and get the same effect as above, OR you can stick with your original A minor pentatonic, because your ACDEG notes happen to be in harmony with his D F# A. 

    And when he moves to the V7 chord, the E7 (E G# B D) you can either play E minor penta, or incredibly, you can stay in A minor penta again, because your G conflicts with his G# and you still get a good bluesy major 3rd / minor 3rd conflict.

    This flexibility of pentatonic, coupled with the conflicting sound we want from the blues, means you can noodle in A minor pentatonic all the way through a blues in A, even if its A major blues!

    ——————

    Now, a note on relative keys. 

    A major and A minor are NOT relative keys. They both start and end on A but their scales use different notes.

    The definition of a ‘relative’ in music is NOT where two scales have the same start and end point, but where two scales use the SAME NOTES, like brother and sister sharing the same genes. 

    Now, A minor has no sharps or flats. It’s just ABCDEFGA. 

    The major scale that has no sharps or flats is C major. CDEFGABC. 

    So C major is the relative of A minor. We normally say it the other way round: A minor is the relative minor of C major. To find the relative minor of any major key, you go down 3 semitones. 

    Now pick up the guitar. So finding the relative minor of C major, you play a C note (8th fret), then go down 3 frets and find A. 

    So if you want to play Ba-Ba Black Sheep in C major using a pentatonic scale, you would play C major penta C D E G A (C). These notes happen to be in A minor pentatonic! Of course, the home note is C. But you may, for reasons of convenience and ease, like to place your hand in the A blues box position on the guitar, 5th fret 1st finger - just because it’s easy and familiar. But you’ve got to remember that your home note is the C, 8th fret, which you’re going to play with your 3rd finger; and the pentatonic scale you’ve got in your mind must be the major pentatonic, starting and ending on that C.

    In fact that’s a common way of playing major pentatonics: you move 3 semitones down and play the minor pentatonic, but you remember that the important starting and ending-note (on the 1st and 6th string) is not your first finger but your 3rd finger. 

    Of course, if you want to play Ba-ba Black Sheep in a bluesy style (for some bizarre reason), you could play it in C MINOR pentatonic. You would move up 3 frets so your 1st finger is on the 8th fret and play a minor pentatonic. It would sound ... quite odd. But you could do it. 

    I really hope that helps because it took ages to type!
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  • pmbombpmbomb Frets: 35
    Thank you @viz. ;
     
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  • aord43aord43 Frets: 260
    Good stuff @viz ;
    Even though I "know" this it helps cement it in the mind.  Learning the same thing in many different ways helps become familiar with it.

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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 589
    edited December 6
    aord43 said:
    Good stuff @viz ;;
    Even though I "know" this it helps cement it in the mind.  Learning the same thing in many different ways helps become familiar with it.

    Yes good stuff @viz.

    I also, agree with @aord43. I like to look at things from different directions and see patterns and connections between things. Sometimes a shift in perspective can open up new ideas.

    I don't have a problem with the video lesson posted originally. It's just one of many ways of looking at things.
    It's not a competition
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 6855
    wis @viz for an eloquent explanation :)
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    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • vizviz Frets: 4346
    Cheers chaps. 
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  • eSullyeSully Frets: 807
    Fantastic explanation @viz
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