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Pentatonic Modes

Robert Silvia (1575) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Advanced · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This lesson will cover some pentatonic modes that are usually overlooked or not taught.

Too define the pentatonic scale we must first define the Diatonic scale. The Diatonic or Major scale is constructed from a series of 7 perfect 5ths.

All examples are in the Key of C

4 - 1 - 5 - 2 - 6 - 3 - 7
F - C - G - D - A - E - B

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

The pentatonic scale (Major Pentatonic) is a series 5 perfect fifths.

1 - 5 - 2 - 6 - 3
C - G - D - A - E

1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6
C - D - E - G - A

And from the Major Pentatonic we derive the relative minor pentatonic scale.

1 - m3 - 4 - 5 - m7
A - C - D - E - G

Usually this is where people stop, they might learn the blues scale (which is not really a scale).

but where can we go from here, well we can look at other relative modal possibilities.

Dorian: 1 - 2 - 4 - 5 - m7
D - E - G - A - C

Phrygian: 1 - m3 - 4 - A5 - m7
E - G - A - C - D

Mixolydian: 1 - 2 - 4 - 5 - 6
G - A - C - D - E

There is one striking fact when you look over these relative modal possibilities. That is not a single one contains all the intervals essential in create a triad, 1 (m3/3) 5. These modes have possibilities but not like the Major or Minor Pentatonic.

There is another way to conceive pentatonic modes, that is to take the formula for the minor pentatonic and apply it to the rest of the modes. The formula for the Minor pentatonic is simple; remove the 2nd and 6th interval. So lets see what modes we get.

Ionian Pentatonic: 1 3 4 5 7
C E F G B

There is no Dorian or Phrygian mode as they would be the same as minor pentatonic.

Lydian Pentatonic: 1 3 A4 5 7
F A B C E

Mixolydian Pentatonic: 1 3 4 5 m7
G B C D F

Locrian Pentatonic: 1 m3 4 D5 m7
B - D - E - F - A

Another set of pentatonic modes often over looked comes from the Ascending Melodic Minor scale. Same principle as before remove the 2nd and 6th interval from the scale.

Ionian b3 pentatonic: (often seen as minor #7) 1 m3 4 5 7
C Eb F G B

Dorian b2 will result in a minor pentatonic

Lydian #5 pentatonic: 1 3 A4 A5 7
Eb G A B D

Lydian b7 pentatonic: 1 3 A4 5 b7
F A B C Eb

Mixolydian b6 will result in a Mixolydian Pentatonic

Aeolian b5 will result in a Locrian Pentatonic

Super Locrian (b4) pentatonic: 1 m3 D4(3) D5 m7
B D Eb F A

the following pages will contain the forms for all the pentatonic Scales discussed above