Skip to content
Minor Pentatonic an...
 
Notifications
Clear all

Minor Pentatonic and the flat 5th

7 Posts
4 Users
0 Reactions
1,751 Views
(@mwilliams)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 50
Topic starter  

Hey folks...quick question for the scale knowledgeable:

My teacher and I have been working all five boxes of the minor pentatonic scale and they're coming along nicely. He has me include the flat 5th note as part of every box so I'm really getting locked in to always including them. Since my primary focus is Blues and R&R, it this a good practice to get into? Can I always include these when I improv or will they sound out of place with certain music?

Your thoughts are appreciated...thank you!

Mike


   
Quote
(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

The flattened fifth is called the 'blue note' by many instruction manuals, and that note plus the minor pentatonic scale is called the blues scale. Should you use it? That really depends on what you are playing. Learning scales is just the foundation, you'll have to get used to hear melodies in your head and play them accordingly, regardless of what scale(s) the notes belong to. So play the minor pentatonic scale, play the blues scale, learn how each note sounds over different chords, learn licks and riffs with the flattened fifth, ask yourself why that artist played that notes and get a firm grasp of how you can practically apply each scale. Then, and only then, can you really improvise interesting music, which is probably why you are learning those scales.


   
ReplyQuote
(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Here is a good article about the famous flatted fifth.

http://www.allwords.org/tr/tritone.html

Many times this note is simply used as a passing note between the fourth and fifth tones. But some players use it to introduce a dark "evil" tone into their playing. One Blues player who used this note a lot was Stevie Ray Vaughn. 8)

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
ReplyQuote
(@mwilliams)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 50
Topic starter  

Thanks for the replies and insight Arjen and Wes...

Here's a different take to my question...is there a time when the flatted 5th will get me in trouble musically (improv wise) given that Blues and R&R is what I'll be initially playing?

Thanks again,

Mike


   
ReplyQuote
(@voodoo_merman)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 368
 

Nope. As long as it fits to the chord changes being made, you'll be fine.

Its also useful to know that most blues guitarists never just play the blue note. It is usually bent to a higher pitch. Players like to vibrato the hell out of it too. I find that it brings out the most bluesy feel when used in that manner. Actually, when you play the blues, youre not supposed to "just play" ANY note. But, you get what I mean.

At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT...IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY -- A LOVE SUPREME --. John Coltrane


   
ReplyQuote
(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

Thanks for the replies and insight Arjen and Wes...

Here's a different take to my question...is there a time when the flatted 5th will get me in trouble musically (improv wise) given that Blues and R&R is what I'll be initially playing?

Thanks again,

Mike

Let's assume you'll be playing over a major blues in A using the Blues Scale:

A-major=A C# E
D-major=D F# A
E-major=E G# B
Blues Scale=A C D Eb E G

As you can see the blue note (Eb) will be create a lot of dissonance with the bold notes above. Is that bad? Sometimes. Usually you'll be using the blue note as a 'decoration' in your playing, for example you'll bend it up to an E, pull off to D or slide down to C. That way there'll be dissonance for a short period of time but that fades when you move away from the Eb. Sounds very bluesy and it is used constantly by many people.

But the note remains tricky. Stay on it for too long or put too much emphasis on it and it will really put the spotlights on the dissonance, something you probably don't want. But maybe you do, maybe you want to play a lick that sounds very uncomfortable just so your next lick (which will resolve perfectly) sounds all the much better.

Dissonance is like salt: without it your music will probably sound boring but with too much it will sound chaotic, confusing and disortientating. The blue note in the blues scale is the note that creates dissonance most easily and therefor should be used with all the possible attention. Use it correctly and it'll make your solo, use it badly and it will break your solo.

So how can you learn how to use it? By using it. Put on some backing tracks and just jam over them. Try playing the blue note in various way over each chord and write down what you like and dislike. Grab some blues albums by your favourite guitarist and listen to how they use it. If you're just starting and have difficulty picking them out just grab a songbook and look for them.

Final note: no theory book in the world can tell you how you should do anything, all it does is offer you options you might not have considered and offer a systematic way to look back at what people did before you. But in the end you'll just have to figure out yourself what you like. Just keep on playing, try everything you can think of and remember what you liked. That's the one way to your own signature style.


   
ReplyQuote
(@mwilliams)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 50
Topic starter  

Folks...STUNNING responses, thank you!

Mike


   
ReplyQuote