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Pentatonic Scale Exercise : Checking Out Your New Neighborhood

More than anything else, it takes practice to become accurate and speedy within any form of scale.

If you are new to the 5-note Pentatonic Scale, the following exercises will not only help you get better at cleanly picking fast runs, but will also help you gain a better sense of the tonal center of the scale and how far away from it you are. As the title said, I call this approach “Checking Out Your New Neighborhood”. First we’ll begin by exploring the C Major Pentatonic Scale. After that, more examples follow, using the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Think of the root of the scale as your “home” (in this case, the tonic or root note C), and the other notes of the scale as destinations both up and down the street from where you live. When you first move to a new home, it’s normal to begin exploring your neighborhood by going just a short distance away from home. As you become familiar with your area you gain the confidence to venture further away.

The exercises below use the C Major Pentatonic Scale in the V (5th fret) position to take you a certain number of notes away from your home, first above, then below, then in both directions. Once you’ve gone the specified distance, you turn around and head for home. By the final exercise you will have learned to play an important pattern for two octaves of the entire scale, both ascending and descending.

The note groupings are circled. Repeat each example many times until you feel comfortable with it, then move on to the next one. Do your best to play these exercises at a constant, unvarying tempo (speed). Alternate picking (down and up) is essential.

As promised, the following exercises use the A Minor Pentatonic Scale, the Relative Minor scale to the C Major Pentatonic Scale. Scales that are relative to one another share the same notes in the same order, but have different starting notes (more on this in a later post).  You will see how the overall patterns for both scales are indeed the same. The examples proceed in the same fashion. Good luck!Later posts will dig a little deeper into the theory and discuss the nature of these scales and where it is appropriate to use them. For now, this post lets you get your feet wet, learning the patterns you’ll need to play lead with speed.

Let that be a lesson to you. 😉

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it with others…I won’t mind.

© 2014 Matthew Woodward

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