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Why ask Why- minor pents over major progression

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sirN
 sirN
(@sirn)
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Although I've been playing for years now, and have enjoyed learning much along the way (especially here), one thing that I have never understood is this:

Theoretically speaking, why can we play the minor pentatonic over a normal major three chord I, IV, V progression such as rockers do? It sounds good to hear Angus or Eddie wailing away at it, but why does it work?

I've never really been satisfied with any answer I've found to this.

Anyone? 8)

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NoteBoat
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Because it gives you a blues type sound.

The blues scale, played over a I-IV-V progression, is 1-b3-4-b5-5-b7. In C, that's C-Eb-F-Gb-G-Bb.

The C pentatonic minor is C-Eb-F-G-Bb, so it's got five of those six notes... and the missing one is usually used as a passing tone anyway.

It ends up sounding ok to our ears because we're all familiar with blues on some level.

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sirN
 sirN
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Thanks Tom.

check out my website for good recording/playing info


   
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huey
 huey
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Now I'm a bit confused...would you rather play this C blues scale over a C major or an Eb major I,IV,V? I know you could play them on both but the more fitting key for C blues would be Eb, right?


   
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NoteBoat
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Harmony and melody work together to create a feeling in music. It's the flatted notes in the melody that give you a blues feeling... and you can add to that feeling with the harmony.

There's two approaches to this thing - the 'composition' approach, where you create a melody and then figure out how to harmonize it, and the 'improvisation' approach, where the harmony already exists, and you want to create a melody that fits.

If you compose a blues type melody using a C blues scale, you'd probably want to use a I-IV-V harmony in C. You could use other keys, like Eb, but most blues writers would stick with the traditional structure for the harmony.

If you've already got that C-F-G harmony, you can use all kids of scales over it - C major, C blues, A minor, A or C pentatonics, etc - and each will give you a different kind of feeling. There's really no 'right' answers when you create a melody over an existing harmony - if it sounds good, stick with it!

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stratwrassler
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The chords might be straight, I IV V, but the harmony created by playing the minor pentatonic scale over them turns them into dom7 chords.

So, you're progression is really I7 IV7 V7.

If you listen to blues players comp chords, they often actually play 7th or dom9th chords instead of just straight major chords. In modern electric rock, "power" 5th chords rule, which really don't emphasize the 3rd or any other tones very much.

Our modern, western ears, are used to hearing all kinds of notes over dom7th chords. Just about anything goes, as long as we make it sound musical while connecting the notes and resolving to chord tones. I call it "mixobluesian".

Alot of these "extra" notes, like the b3rd or b5th "blue" note in the minor pentatonic, come from the dom7 chords in the harmonized harmonic or melodic minor scales.

Also, when you listen to Eddie or Angus, they don't just mechanically run the minor pent up and down. They slide, bend, and add other tasty notes along the way. This is much more apparent in their bluesy influencers.

The minor pentatonic is really used more as a physical pattern or anchor to play from, and not so much as a pure musical idea. It puts your fingers near all those other cool notes.

enough of my rambling, hope I helped and didn't add more confusion, heh.

Peace,
-Rick

Groove and Tone: If it don't got it, why play it?


   
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martink
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If you compose a blues type melody using a C blues scale, you'd probably want to use a I-IV-V harmony in C. You could use other keys, like Eb, but most blues writers would stick with the traditional structure for the harmony.

I've got two questions from this paragraph.

1) Can you explain what "the traditional structure for the harmony" is?

2) If you compose a melody using the C blues scale why would you want to use a I-IV-V harmony in C Major? The key signatures between the C blues scale (Pretty much Eb Major but with an added F#) and C Major seem like they are pretty far off with the added F# that is 4 sharps compared to C Major's zero sharps. I guess I'm asking why a C blues melody and a C Major I-IV-V harmony work so well together? even over a I-IV-V harmony in Eb?

Thank you for your time!


   
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NoteBoat
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The traditional structure is to harmonize a blues scale (1-b3-4-b5-5-b7) using the I-IV-V chords in the tonic (1) key.

You'd use the C blues scale over a C-F-G progression, even though it has a b3 and b7 - those notes create tension that gives the result a blues sound. If you play the same scale over Eb-Ab-Bb, you won't have that tension... so you'll really be using selected notes from the Eb scale. The one note outside the key is the b5, but that's used as a passing tone between 4 and 5 - blues melodies don't sit on the b5 for very long.

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hairballxavier
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It's because blues/rock guitar players like Eddie and Angus create emotion and power in their music by playing with the major/minor duality in music. It's done to pull away the tonic center and give the music a more modal feel.


   
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