Music Teacher's Helper Blog

The Pentatonic Scale

The pentatonic scale is a five note scale, using intervals I, II, III, V and VI. There are several rumors on the origin of the scale. The one I am attached to is the scale was found several centuries ago in Asia from the black notes on the piano.

The scale is used by rock and blues musicians to play lead guitar. One famous lead guitarist that uses this scale is Eric Clapton. Other instruments, such as the Flute, also play the scale to an accompaniment.
What is unique about this scale is the notes in the scale can be played with the chords of the same major key or relative minor key. This inspires the student to be creative in choosing the notes in the scale to play with an accompanist. Students actually go into a trance playing the pentatonic scale while I am playing the chords in the same key.

I also found that the song, “Amazing Graze”, only uses the notes in pentatonic scale for the melody. Students that are familiar with the song are giving an assignment to figure what notes in the scale are used to play the melody. This is great ear training for the student.

Do you use the pentatonic scale, or know something of it’s history? Let me know your thoughts on this amazing scale.

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