Live YouTube Tuesdays show. Facts about improvising on the guitar.
Pentatonic Scale Introduction
J: Welcome to the livestream. Hello Erika, I think I know you? Today we are here again with Thomas.
T: Yes this is Thomas here and this is Johnny.
J: We will be talking today about pentatonic scales in a different way. Thomas will present his concept. He mentioned this today over the phone. I am not aware of what he will present but I am sure it will be very interesting.
Parallel Pentatonics over IIm7 – V7 – 1 Chord Progression
Today I will talk about improvisation, a way of improvising, a way of using the pentatonic minor scales in a context of II-V- I chord progressions, with the 2nd, the 5th and the ONE chords.
Thomas, can you play with me at the same time so they can hear the result?
So, given the following II-V-I chord progression Dm, G7 and Cmaj7, Key of C….
Am Pentatonic Over Dm7
We will start off by talking about Dm. If I use the Am pentatonic shape, I play some notes that are not in the chords.
As I maintain the E note, I play the 9th of Dm, therefore I play a Dm7 and add the 9th.
So this is the Am pentatonic on the II chord.
Bb minor Pentatonic Over G7
On the G7, on the dominant, I transpose the scale by half a tone and play the Bb minor pentatonic. This scale will include the altered 5ths and 9ths. So this is a sound with a lot of tension, play it again.
B minor Pentatonic Over CMaj7
On the CMaj7,on the One chord, we transpose 1/2 a tone more and we play B pentatonic minor. The f# creates the sound of Cmaj7 lydian.
T: Very nice !
J: Let´s try it like this Thomas.
J: Very nice !
J: In this case you can see and hear that I am using only the pentatonic scales.
I find it interesting to include this type of sound in a language and context we already have.
We generally play a melody in a programmed manner, because it is in the key or the arpeggio of a chord let´s, say Dm, etc, etc…but we can now mix these concepts.
Play More Relaxed
What really stands out in this progression is the V7 chord. This pentatonic minor sound creates a lot of tension. So, you can use it on the dominant chord and on the I chord and IIm7 chord, you can play more relaxed so as to create more of a contrast.
Let’s play this exercise a bit more.
T: Creating more of a contrast with the dominant?
J: Yes I will play lightly on the I and IIm7 chords, and on the dominant I will play the pentatonic minor of Bb.
Another way of Understanding these Pentatonic Scale Concepts
T: So as I understand.
The Dm7 sound is a consequence of the C Scale. With the Am pentatonic you are playing certain notes of the C scale, and what’s nice is that you can bring out the 9th of the chord, the 7th, but you are not playing the 3rd of the chord, and it creates a more open sound and that is one of the advantages of the pentatonic.
J: Yes, as we have these fourths, there are a lot of fourths we can use.
T: Yes fourths do not create such a harmonic sound as the thirds. They do create it but to a lesser degree.
J: Yes, they open it up a bit.They sound very Roman to me, very open, between major and minor, it’s a hybrid.
T: The fact is that the 4th as a harmonic interval does not produce harmony. You can play a 4th at any time and this will not produce harmony.
And when we get to the G7 you are playing the minor 3rd and diminished 5th.
J: Yes I am playing on the G7 the minor 3rd, the diminished 5th and the augmented 5th.
Parallel Pentatonics = Nice Tension
T: This sounds very interesting.This is also a light way of adding a lot of tension. When we play the Dm we add a little tension with the 9th, then we move onto the dominant chord and we maintain a parallelism, we move from the sensation of a group of notes that simply ascend,
and then again.
This is a parallel movement that has its own independence and the dissonance is less and nicer to listen to.
G7: A Softer Altered Scale
Yes, yes, yes. much nicer.You also have the b9 and the #5.
All altered scales as the altered scale, the locrian, the super locrian have the 9th and the 5th changed, altered.With this pentatonic we also have all the 9ths and 5ths changed or altered.
Think Pentatonic Versus Altered
Think dominant and play the pentatonic minor, a 3rd above the root.
So if we have a B7 chord, we then play the Dm pentatonic.
Or if we have an A7 chord, we play the C minor pentatonic.
Let’s put this into practice.
Yes, now I would like to try this out, Thomas can you play the same ?
I will play not only pentatonic scales but include this type of sound in my own language.
Up until now I was only playing pentatonic, to demonstrate the type of sound we are talking about, but now I will be able to create even more contrast.
If I play a very relaxed Dm sound and then suddenly I play on the dominant the Bb minor pentatonic you will notice it much more.
Well, now it’s my turn.
The George Benson Sound
Here are my 2 ideas for using the pentatonic scale.
The pentatonic scale has 5 notes. If we have a song that is in the key of C
and I play the C pentatonic scale. The pentatonic of C in this case has 5 notes without the 4th and 7th note of the scale: CDEGA.
When we talk about tonal centres in blues, as an F Blues we have to consider that we are in the key of F, we know it is not major or minor but blues, but as a new concept why don’t we play the F pentatonic major over all the chords?
J: In the blues?
Yes, but with the slight difference that when you play the IV chord, instead of the A note you play the Ab note.
Some chit chat
T: I think we were hearing the guitar through the mic?
J: Let’s try to play without the mic !
That is if we do not not talk. It will sound better or do you need to talk ?
T: Yes I need to talk a bit .
Benson Stays in one Spot
I like George Benson a lot. He does not care too much about the possible harmonic complexity of a jazz blues harmony, but rather as he plays he stays in one spot, he stays in the blues sound but not with the blues scale, but rather he stays on the major pentatonic, he doesn’t care if there are other chords and whenever he needs to add that minor touch, the blues touch, he plays Ab, and he stays there all the time.
J: In the blues scale?
T: To create the blues sound he simply adds the Ab and not the full blues sound. He plays F major pentatonic. and adds the b3 for the blues sound.
J: It always work as it is a blues sound
The Ambiguous Pentatonic
This was the first idea. I want to propose another concept.
Do not Think chords, Think Pentatonic
The pentatonic has 5 notes of the 7 of the major scale. We can use the pentatonic as a way of composing on the go, a way of developing a song on the go, where we do not have to think of chords, but of a floating sound
Let’s start off with the G sound. If we only play the pentatonic sound, and eliminate the 3rd and 7th, the b and f#, we have an open sound that we can use, when we need to break this feeling, when we need to break this feeling, we can add the third and notes that are not of the pentatonic.
Emphasise Thirds for Chordal Sounds
We can play a full song with this open sound and when we add the extra notes and the 3rd,
the 3rd and chordal sounds really come out more.
I will add the third every while and then. I will now play around the third.
Now I add the 7th to this floating sound of G DA E.
Now I emphasize the 4th.
Now I work around the third of the chord.
Everything sounds more open.
So even a chordal note becomes very prominent.
Thomas Demonstrates on the go this Concept
The open sound. I am creating this open ambiguous sound with the pentatonic.
And now I add the 7th,
and more tension,
back to the floating pentatonic sound,
the 3rd and we start creating harmonic cadence,
the 3rd and 7th,
outside of this floating sound of GADE,
back to the floating sound,
I add the 3rd and the 7th,
I create tension,
the floating sound of the GAED notes,
now I define the chord,
more chordal definition,
more chordal definition,
more chordal definition,
back to the floating ambiguous sound,
A Beautiful Sound to Enjoy and use
J: Very beautiful, very interesting!
T: So this is a way of using the pentatonic sound, to generate the floating sound, the ambiguous sound that you can hear a lot in Pat Metheny or some country type sounds.
So if you are playing the C chord, don’t think of the C chord as CEG. Play pentatonic, create chords with these notes and you will start creating this floating sound.
Johnny Summarizes my Presentation
J: Yes, I like a lot of oriental music. Yes the pentatonic allows small resolutions towards chordal notes and the tonal center. We use the 4th and the 7th to create more chordal cadences on top of the C chord.
The pentatonic is like a pedal. The pentatonic creates this limited world, with a base of important notes and then you can add splashes to wherever you want but you always come home when you come back to the pentatonic.
It’s like a trampoline to go somewhere to stay or come back to.
Some Online chit chat
J: I would like to say hello to Joan Trabal.
T: We also have with us Walter Junior.
Joan Trabal, yes I know him.
J: Do you know him?
T: From facebook
T: He plays clarinet doesn’t he?
J: Joan tell me if you are here as we want to talk about you now.
You deserve a minute of our time.
T: Joan,are you in Germany?
J: Yes he is in Germany.
Together we have had of a lot of chocolate peanuts on the Garraf coastline after our gigs.
This is a worthwhile saying.
Thank you Joan.
Pentatonic Scales are Ancient
What comes to my mind is how ancient this scale is, because if we look at all the music in China and in all of Asia, it’s all based on the pentatonic, and also African music is based upon this sound.
T: Do you know why?
J: Who took the scale where, why and when?
T: It all comes from the interpretation of the sounds of nature.
Everyone can Sing a Pentatonic Scale
The pentatonic is something special. If you have an audience in front of you and you play
the pentatonic minor the audience will know how to sing this, and I do not know why.
It’s like, it’s inside of us.
The Origin of the Pentatonic Scale
The pentatonic from an acoustics perspective is made up of the first harmonics that come out when we play a note.
J: So it’s like the ADN.
Once Upon a Time
T: Exactly. Yes, imagine our ancestors from hundreds of thousands of years ago.
They were in a cave. Someone hit something and every one hummed the sound,
and so, after singing the same note for 500 or 1000 years every morning, somebody came up with the next note, the octave, and they soon started to hear the other notes.
As time goes by, someone comes along and says, wow I have created the scale, but the hard work was done by our predecessors. There are really no history books that can say our ancestor John, in the year 400 000 BC, sung the first note, but this must have happened
, someone started it all.
It is in all cultures of the world.
J: Sometimes it sounds very western movie like but also very asian.
T: Most Indian traditional music also has this droning sound based upon a pedal. In Australia I also play the guitar a lot with Persian musicians and they use this sound a lot
I think we can actually play a song now.
Time to Play a Blues
J: Let’s improvise a song, to close off the session.
We can turn off the microphone so we can hear it better and then we can say goodbye.
T: Today we are playing more than in other sessions which were dedicated more to philosophy.
J: Get a bit closer. Blues ?
J: We are going to play a blues in F, I am going to turn the mic off
The first part of Johnny´s solo is cut off as the mics wene dead in the livestream
Ok solo time. Just in case you cannot hear the guitar I am singing.
Time to say goodbye
J: Well, I was not expecting this technical issue. When we turn off the mic your guitar pick up sometimes is cancelled and we do not know why and we did test it before. We will take another look and now the pedal seems to be working.
T: And we tried for an hour, and tested and tested. At least you all saw my face
as when I am expressing, my face reflects it well.
J: Yes, you started singing.
T: Well I said to myself if you cannot hear the guitar at least you can hear me sing.
It’s time to close shop unless you would like to add something.
Oh. We will be here next Tuesday with a new live stream and new theme. We will let you know during the week. We always improvise the theme of the show on the go.
Live Stream Summary
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T: How about a summary of what we have discussed today?
Music is one of life’s wonders, and also the pentatonic scales.
Johnny explained his concept of parallel pentatonics using them to develop chordal tensions.
And I proposed the opposite,t o use the pentatonic as a means to create this ambiguous world, so that the chordal sound when played is even more obvious.
Two opposite worlds, using the resources of theory. Theory with the goal of expression.
J: Thank you Roger, Erik, Joan and Walter. Thank you all for joining in today. Your support is greatly appreciated. The more the better.Thank you so much. Until next Tuesday
T: A warm hug, bye bye.