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Thread: Why doesn't the G major pentatonic scale box pattern include the notes C and F#?

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    Smile Why doesn't the G major pentatonic scale box pattern include the notes C and F#?

    Hello everyone. I am new here and to music theory. I am studying the pentatonic scale box pattern in G major and I noticed that in all 5 positions, the C and F# notes are not included, although they are notes within the G major scale itself. Can someone please explain why this is to me? I was also wondering if there are scale box patterns for all 24 keys in music or for just certain keys? My last question is what is the difference between a regular pentatonic scale in a major key and the scale box pattern for that same key?

    Thanks,

    Robert

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    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    Hello everyone. I am new here and to music theory. I am studying the pentatonic scale box pattern in G major and I noticed that in all 5 positions, the C and F# notes are not included, although they are notes within the G major scale itself. Can someone please explain why this is to me? I was also wondering if there are scale box patterns for all 24 keys in music or for just certain keys? My last question is what is the difference between a regular pentatonic scale in a major key and the scale box pattern for that same key? Robert
    Why is the C and F# not in the G pentatonic scale. Pentatonic means 5 so two notes must be left out. In the Major pentatonic that is the 4th and 7th. In a minor pentatonic it is the 2 and 6 that are left out. Accept it and move on. If you must know why those were chosen they are the ones that are safe passing notes - not going to get into why they are safe. Each pentatonic scale will give you three chord tones and two safe passing notes which means if you play the chord's pentatonic over it's chord it's going to work, aka sound good.

    Take the scale box pattern and yes, then you can just move the box around and play any key.

    Now there are all kinds of patterns, 2 notes per string, two and three notes per string, and many more, but, I have found that if I stick to the above pattern and then adjust that one pattern for the scale I need it ends up being simpler. If you place the Big E string first note (the root) on the fretboard correctly that scale's or chord's notes await you automatically.

    Place the root note on the big E string 8th fret and the C major scale's notes await you. Want G major scale, move the box to the big E string 3rd fret. A major scale would start on the 5th fret, etc.

    Last question - if you use the box pattern you know that........ If we are going to use the box and play the notes of the A major chord if we place the box pattern and sound the Root, 3 and 5 interval of that box pattern we get the notes of the A major chord.

    Take that same thought...... the Root, b3 and 5 will give you the Am minor chord.

    One box and then adjust what intervals you use......
    Major scale - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Natural minor scale = 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7 same box just take into account if you want the minor scale you flat the 3, 6 & 7 (to flat go back one fret toward the nut) and you have the minor scale from that same box pattern. I know WOW it opened a whole World for me.

    So visualize your box and then remember what interval sequences are needed for what you want and you can play a lot of guitar.

    Scales
    Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7
    Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 leave out the 4 and 7.

    Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
    Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 leave out the 2 and 6.
    Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 minor pentatonic with a blue note added. Blue note? The b5.

    Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 notice it's the natural minor scale with a natural 7th.
    Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 notice it's a major scale with a b3.

    Major modes
    Ionian same as the Major Scale.
    Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple. R, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7
    Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7. For example; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7

    Minor Modes
    Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale.
    Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6. For 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7
    Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2. For 1, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
    Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5. For 1, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7.

    Will not take long to remember which flats and or sharps to thrown into the mix, Learn the major scale and it's pentatonic first then take on the natural minor scale, it's pentatonic and the Blues scale. That should keep you busy for quite some time.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 08-17-2011 at 05:46 PM.

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    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    Hello everyone. I am new here and to music theory. I am studying the pentatonic scale box pattern in G major and I noticed that in all 5 positions, the C and F# notes are not included, although they are notes within the G major scale itself. Can someone please explain why this is to me?
    By definition a major pentatonic scale includes only the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th degrees of the full (seven note) major scale. There are various ways to think of why this is so but the fact remains relative to the definition.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    I was also wondering if there are scale box patterns for all 24 keys in music or for just certain keys?
    There are various scale fingering systems (Positional, CAGED, 3-notes-per-string, Segovia, etc). Each of these scale fingering systems can be used for any major or natural minor key. There are modified forms for each of these fingering systems to accomidate the harmonic and melodic minors of every key.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    My last question is what is the difference between a regular pentatonic scale in a major key and the scale box pattern for that same key?
    Firstly you should consider the difference between a scale (a collection of notes) and a fingering pattern (how those notes project onto the fretboard at some location along the neck)

    The formula for a major scale is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
    The formula for a major pentatonic scale is 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.

    Are you asking what about the major scale fingering patterns? For which fingering system? The major scale fingering pattern that uses the same five pentatonic patterns (that it sounds like you know) would be those same pentatonic patterns plus the missing notes from the major scale (the 4th and 7th of the major scale).

    You haven't defined what you mean by a "scale box pattern" but for most people that means one of the five "common" major pentatonic scale fingering forms.

    Have a look at the attached document, it may help you see these things a little bit better.

    cheers,
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Which scales are the best to learn first that work best for soloing over rock/alternative rock songs in mostly major keys? I know that the pentatonic scales have been the power of rock for decades, but I was wondering if it would still be better to learn the major/natural minor scales first? What would the difference be in which scales to learn first?

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    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    Which scales are the best to learn first that work best for soloing over rock/alternative rock songs in mostly major keys? I know that the pentatonic scales have been the power of rock for decades, but I was wondering if it would still be better to learn the major/natural minor scales first? What would the difference be in which scales to learn first?
    IMO - Yes learn the major and natural minor scale first. Several reasons, we want to get our fingers moving on the fretboard and we want our ears knowing the good notes from the bad ones. If you are going to be play the songs tune use the major scale. If you are improvising the melody playing notes of the chord's pentatonic scale will work.

    Over the C major chord improvise with the notes of the C major pentatonic scale. Over the Dm chord use the D minor pentatonic scale then for the F and G chords go back to the F major pentatonic and the G major pentatonic.

    Why? For the chord line and the melody line to harmonize together they should share like notes -- remember what we said about the pentatonic having three chord tones and two safe passing notes. Like notes with safe passing notes work every time.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 08-17-2011 at 06:13 PM.

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    Thanks Malcolm. Yes I recently wrote a catchy song in the key of F major and I am guessing the best choice for a beginner like me would be to solo over it using the F major pentatonic scale box pattern? I am a little confused because I was looking at all the major pentatonic scale box patterns listed in the 5 different positions on this site...but they are all listed as positions being in the key of G major? I don't know if this is just a mistake by the author of this site or what. I know that the first position starts with the root note of G, but the second position starts with the root note of A not G...so why does it read: 2nd position guitar major pentatonic scale box pattern in G and not A? Here is a link to the site so you can see for yourself:

    http://www.myguitarworkshop.com/guit...fretboard.aspx

    If I were to solo over this song in the key of F major using a pentatonic scale box pattern, it would have to be in the minor pentatonic scale box pattern and not the major pentatonic because there are no F notes in the major pentatonic scale box pattern? Sorry for all the questions. I am just really confused mainly from this website I was looking at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    I don't know if this is just a mistake by the author of this site or what.
    No the diagrams are not mistaken, they are showing you all of the notes that are notes of the scale available to you without moving your hand out of that position - the lowest note you can reach isn't necessarily going to be the root note of the scale (and you can also see that the roots are marked in red).

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    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    You really should start with the C major scale and study how that one scale projects onto the fretboard. From those projections, you'll see various C major scale fingerings that make sense to you. Then you can look at that same information relative to the pentatonic patterns that you already know to see how these things relate.

    The questions you are asking are good questions - but the answers may not be what you are looking for. You see to understand this stuff, you have to see it with you own eyes. No one can give you the right answers - all we can do is guide you along the journey. The major scale in all it's glory is widely consider to be the best place to start. Everything in music theory assumes you already know your major scales.

    cheers and good luck.

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    Thanks walternewton and Jed. I am used to practicing scales by starting with a root note that is on the either the top E or bottom E string in a kind up high to low or low to high arpeggios pattern. I noticed that the root notes in each pattern are marked in red, but how would I play all the notes in the pattern if the root note that I start out on is not even on the top string? Do I just play the root note and then either choose to go up or down and then play the remaining notes after? I am sorry I guess I am stuck on practicing scales by using either arpeggios or just by playing all the notes in the scale on a single string(ascending or descending). As soon as a chart starts to show me root notes in the middle of a group of notes I am just totally lost...how do you practice these scales? Don't you always have to start off on the root note? Once again...sorry guys I am a noob.

  10. #10
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    Thanks walternewton and Jed. I am used to practicing scales by starting with a root note that is on the either the top E or bottom E string in a kind up high to low or low to high arpeggios pattern. I noticed that the root notes in each pattern are marked in red, but how would I play all the notes in the pattern if the root note that I start out on is not even on the top string? Do I just play the root note and then either choose to go up or down and then play the remaining notes after? I am sorry I guess I am stuck on practicing scales by using either arpeggios or just by playing all the notes in the scale on a single string(ascending or descending). As soon as a chart starts to show me root notes in the middle of a group of notes I am just totally lost...how do you practice these scales? Don't you always have to start off on the root note? Once again...sorry guys I am a noob.
    OK we have two things in play here. Playing a scale from a box pattern which starting on the big E string and going from there to the little E string gives you two plus octaves of the scale you started on.

    Then there is that thing of taking that same scale up the neck into five different places. This is what all newbies want to do right at first as they think this impresses the young girls - Blazing up the neck and then come back down, but, really all you have accomplished has little to do with making music or playing a tune.

    So forget about going up the neck into the five placements and concentrate on taking the major scale pattern and playing in the G, A, B, C, D and E keys.
    G has the root at the 3rd fret. A is at the 5th fret, B is at the 7th, C is at the 8th, D is at the 10th and E is at the 12th. Now that has some use, song is being played in the key of D. Where do you gather your D major scale notes?

    When you can do those in your sleep we will look at something else. Yes right at first start on the Root note big E string. When that gets borring try starting on the 3rd interval, A string, i.e. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, eight is a root one octave higher up then come back down to the big E string root. Mix it up - have fun.

    Try making some riffs -- R, 3, 5, 7, 7, 5, 3, R. or 7, 5, 3, 5, 6, 3, 2, R. If that sounds good to you write it down and use it - if it did not lift your kilt go on to something else. If it did sound good and you were doing it in the key of C I bet it would also sound good in the G scale - back up and start your intervals at the big E string 3rd fret -- and use that same interval sequences, ie. 7, 5, 3, 5, 6, 3, 2, R. Did the light just come on?


    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 08-17-2011 at 09:50 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    Thanks walternewton and Jed. I am used to practicing scales by starting with a root note that is on the either the top E or bottom E string in a kind up high to low or low to high arpeggios pattern. I noticed that the root notes in each pattern are marked in red, but how would I play all the notes in the pattern if the root note that I start out on is not even on the top string? Do I just play the root note and then either choose to go up or down and then play the remaining notes after? I am sorry I guess I am stuck on practicing scales by using either arpeggios or just by playing all the notes in the scale on a single string(ascending or descending). As soon as a chart starts to show me root notes in the middle of a group of notes I am just totally lost...how do you practice these scales? Don't you always have to start off on the root note? Once again...sorry guys I am a noob.
    For the purpose of learning patterns like these, I would suggest practicing them from the lowest note of the pattern to the highest (and vice versa), while always remaining aware of the notes you're playing in terms of scale degree and note name.

    (And again, a point that can't be emphasized enough is to always keep in mind the distinction between *scales* and *fingering patterns* that Jed mentioned above.)
    Last edited by walternewton; 08-17-2011 at 09:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    Thanks walternewton and Jed. I am used to practicing scales by starting with a root note that is on the either the top E or bottom E string in a kind up high to low or low to high arpeggios pattern. I noticed that the root notes in each pattern are marked in red, but how would I play all the notes in the pattern if the root note that I start out on is not even on the top string? Do I just play the root note and then either choose to go up or down and then play the remaining notes after? I am sorry I guess I am stuck on practicing scales by using either arpeggios or just by playing all the notes in the scale on a single string(ascending or descending). As soon as a chart starts to show me root notes in the middle of a group of notes I am just totally lost...how do you practice these scales? Don't you always have to start off on the root note?
    Well, yes and no.
    To get the sound of the scale in your head, start and end on the root note when first practising.
    If the root note is not on the top or bottom string, no matter: just work up or down from any root note to the highest or lowest note in the pattern, and come back and finish on the root (any of the roots).
    Play the notes at random too, any order you like. Just check how the root sounds like a good note to finish any phrase on.

    Now, this is only to hear the sound of the scale, and how the notes all relate to the root. The root should "sound like home".

    When you actually use the scale in practice (I mean when improvising in music as opposed to practising scales), you can start and end anywhere you like. The scale will (in the simplest scenario) be used over a chord with the same root as the scale. The chord is giving you the sound of the root, so you don't have to underline it.
    Eg, to solo over a G major chord, use a pattern for G major pentatonic (any pattern). (That's the patterns shown on the site you linked to: those red dots are all G notes.)
    There are 5 different notes in each pattern (all of them repeated in 2 or 3 octaves), 3 of which are contained in the chord. Ie, a G chord contains the notes G B D, and the pent contains the notes G A B D E. A and E are not in the chord, but sound good played against the chord.
    The missing notes (C and F#), although they are in the key of G major, may not sound too good against the chord: they can do, but need proper handling. This is why many people choose to improvise with pent scales, because almost anything you can play with them will sound good. It sounds like you know what you're doing, even if you don't!

    As I say, this is the simplest scenario: one major chord, with the pent of the same name.
    So what happens when you have a chord sequence, with more than one chord? And what happens if you have minor chords?

    If the chord sequence is all major chords, you can play the major pent of each chord. If the chords aren't changing too fast, this should not be too difficult.
    If you know all your major pent patterns, you should be able to use different pent scales in the same region of the neck - it's important not to jump around all over neck every time a chord changes. (It makes it difficult for you, and doesn't sound too good either.)

    For example, let's say you have G and C chords. What that site calls the "1st position" pattern for G major pent is between 2nd and 5th fret. If you then take the "4th position" pattern and move that down so it's also between 2nd and 5th frets, you have a C major pent pattern (because those red dots will then mark C notes). And you'll notice that in fact the patterns are almost the same: there is only one note different: C major pent has a C note instead of a B, but the other 4 are the same. Here's the patterns with the notes labelled:
    Code:
    G major pent (frets 2-5)
      2   3   4   5
    |---|-G-|---|-A-|
    |---|-D-|---|-E-|
    |-A-|---|-B-|---|
    |-E-|---|---|-G-|
    |-B-|---|---|-D-|
    |---|-G-|---|-A-|
    
    C major pent (frets 2-5)
      2   3   4   5
    |---|-G-|---|-A-|
    |---|-D-|---|-E-|
    |-A-|---|---|-C-|
    |-E-|---|---|-G-|
    |---|-C-|---|-D-|
    |---|-G-|---|-A-|
    So you can see it's very easy to switch from one pent to the other. Remember you don't need to start and end on the root every time! And if you avoid the B or C notes, you could play the same phrases on both chords! (That's one soloing strategy that can be quite effective. There are others...)

    Generally, the kind of chords that go together in sequences will have closely related pents. Eg, the other chord you'll probably find along with G and C is D. D major pent also has just one note different from G major pent: F# instead of G. Here's the pattern for D major pent between frets 2 and 5:
    Code:
    D major pent (frets 2-5)
      2   3   4   5
    |-F#|---|---|-A-|
    |---|-D-|---|-E-|
    |-A-|---|-B-|---|
    |-E-|---|-F#|---|
    |-B-|---|---|-D-|
    |-F#|---|---|-A-|
    This is what that site calls the "3rd position" pattern, moved down 5 frets so the red dots line up with D notes.

    Of course, you don't have to play between frets 2 and 5! You can find patterns for all 3 major pents in roughly the same place wherever you are on the neck. You will, of course need to learn your fretboard to some extent in order to know where to place the patterns (where to find the root notes).

    And I'm not touching here on what happens with minor chords... Each major pent pattern is also a minor pent pattern (if a different note is assigned the root role), and minor pents are extremely important for rock improvisation - although their use is not quite so theoretically straightforward as for major pents.
    Last edited by JonR; 08-17-2011 at 10:06 PM.

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    Thank you Jon for your very detailed answer. It definitely made the idea of using scales for soloing seem a lot easier to understand. I was wondering if you could do me a favor and send me more pentatonic scales graphs for the patterns all the way up the fretboard instead of just the patterns between frets 2-5? Sorry, I don't mean to ask for so much, but I have been searching online for a list of all the patterns for the pentatonic scale in each key, but I only seem to run into the patterns for G major, which I have been studying for the past few days and I am ready to start memorizing scale patterns in the other keys(A,B,C,D,E,F).

    Thanks again,

    Robert

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    I would suggest stepping back a bit so you can understand these patterns rather than just memorize them - do you know:

    The chromatic scale?
    How to build a major scale starting with any note?
    How to name any note on the fretboard?

    The reason I ask is because from your question you don't seem to realize that if you have a set of patterns, you can use them to play scales in *any* key just by shifting their position on the fretboard.

    The G patterns shifted up 1 fret give you patterns for G#/Ab
    The G patterns shifted up 2 frets give you patterns for A
    The G patterns shifted up 3 frets give you patterns for A#/Bb
    etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJamesVagabond View Post
    Thank you Jon for your very detailed answer. It definitely made the idea of using scales for soloing seem a lot easier to understand. I was wondering if you could do me a favor and send me more pentatonic scales graphs for the patterns all the way up the fretboard instead of just the patterns between frets 2-5?

    Sorry, I don't mean to ask for so much, but I have been searching online for a list of all the patterns for the pentatonic scale in each key, but I only seem to run into the patterns for G major, which I have been studying for the past few days and I am ready to start memorizing scale patterns in the other keys(A,B,C,D,E,F).

    Thanks again,

    Robert
    It's all the same patterns. You just need to move them up or down the required number of frets, as walter points out.

    To list the positions for those keys you mention: shift the G patterns as follows:

    A = up 2 frets, or down 10
    B = up 4 frets, or down 8
    C = up 5 frets, or down 7
    D = up 7 frets, or down 5
    E = up 9 frets, or down 3
    F = up 10 frets, or down 2

    Memorise where the red dots are in each case (2 or 3 dots, in each of 5 patterns, for each key).
    Those are your keynotes, and a good way to start learning the fretboard.

    I suggest you draw yourself (or download and print) some blank fretboard charts and map out the patterns yourself, in all those keys: one chart for each key, with the patterns all linked, and the keynotes marked.
    Some blanks here:
    http://musiclessonsnow.ca/fret%20board.html

    You will learn this a lot better if you do it yourself, rather than have someone give it you.
    Don't forget to play the patterns too, don't just draw them out! Start and end with the key chord in each case, to kind of "center" your ear. Eg, when practising the A patterns, play an A chord before you start, and then at the end.
    Or (better) create a one-chord backing groove to play over. That way you hear how the different notes in each pattern relate to the background chord. This is crucial - you need to understand it all as sound, not just as positions and patterns. Remember - with these pent patterns - there are only FIVE different notes in play, for any one key/chord. Each one has its own character relative to the chord (root or keynote). They sound the same wherever they are on the neck. Eg, there are around 10 C# notes on the neck, some different octaves, some the same octave in different positions; they're all the same in effect; they're all the 3rd of the A chord. (Or if you're in the key of E, they're the 6th.) That's the effect, or character, you need to listen out for.

    I also fully agree with walter that you should learn a little scale theory. (Eg why is it sometimes 2 frets, sometimes 1, between different notes?)
    DON'T try and memorise countless patterns, without knowing the note names. If you know the theory (and learn your fretboard) it's all a lot simpler. (The notes on the fretboard always stay the same of course; it's just the different keys use different permutations of them.)
    Last edited by JonR; 08-18-2011 at 03:10 PM.

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