TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p10

Looking at the other notes on the G minor Pentatonic

Here is an interesting constellation of facts: when you make a given interval minor, that means you flatten it by a half step.  However, because of the details of where some notes have been removed from the pentatonic scale, when you go from the major pentatonic scale to the minor pentatonic scale, you need to raise the pitch of three notes. Which three notes have to be raised to make the minor pentatonic scale? The three notes that are not the “1” and the “5”!

Remember, the “1” and the “5” notes usually define the key.  They are the ones that are (almost) always present in the scale.  If you want to make some music that is really odd, try a scale that doesn’t include the 5th and see what you can do with it!

Looking at the notes in the G minor pentatonic tuning, there is no 2, but we do have a minor 3 or “3-“, a “4”, and of course the “5”.  The “4” is structural and doesn’t really have a flavor like the “1” and the “5” do, but the “3-” has some minor attitude, shifting the feeling to sadness.  The “7-” or minor 7th also has some attitude, but it is more perky than sad.  Notice also how the 3- and the 7- have a 5th interval between them – that is, they are working on the same team!   No wonder they have attitude.

The amazing little feature of the minor pentatonic scale is that it can be flipped like a “Go” piece from minor to major.  Play these notes:  “3-“, “4”, “5” – do you hear it?  It is the same as “Do Re Mi”.  Continue to “7-“, then the middle “1” on the left side, and end on the high 3-.  This is the major pentatonic scale.

“Malian Blues” on the G minor pentatonic kalimba.

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