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The pentatonic scale is probably the most basic scale you can learn on an instrument. As the name suggests it is a five tone scale resulting in five modes. The pentatonic scale is a stripped version of the church modes. The major and the minor mode is a triad with two added notes. The major scale is a major triad extended with the second and the sixth step. The minor part is extended with the fourth and the seventh step. These extensions are consonant (as opposed to dissonant) thus making the scale easy to work with.

For long I have though of the pentatonic scale (mostly minor) as a scale you play in blues situations. It is very common when soloing over a blues. But the last three modes have an oriental feel to them.

We list the five modes in starting in the key of a as we did for the church modes.

I Minor Pentatonic

The pentatonic minor in the key of a

a c d e g

As guitar tabs

1:a1,c1; 2:e1,g1; 3:c1,d1; 4:g1,a1; 5:d1,e1; 6:a1,c1;

This functions as a minor 7 chord. The scale is the minor 7 arpeggio with an added d.

II Major Pentatonic

In the key of c

c d e g a

As guitar tabs

1:c1,d1; 2:g1,a1; 3:d1,e1; 4:a1,c1; 5:e1,g1; 6:c1,d1;

This functions as a major chord. The seventh step of the Ionian mode is not included in this scale.

III Egyptian Pentatonic

In the key of d

d e g a c

As guitar tabs

1:d1,e1; 2:a1,c2; 3:e1,g1; 4:c1,d1; 5:g1,a1; 6:d1,e1;

As far as I know this scale does not fit any chord in its tonic key. It is stripped of both a minor and a major third. It can be played as an a minor pentatonic or c major. Or one can mess around with it on a stripped fiver chord maybe with an added nine like this one

4:e2; 5:a1; 6:d1;

IV Blues Minor, Man Gong

In the key of e

e g a c d

As guitar tabs

1:e1,g2; 2:c2,d2; 3:g1,a2; 4:d1,e2; 5:a1,c2; 6:e1,g2;

This functions as a minor seventh with an augmented fifth, in this case Em+^{7}

V Blues Major, Ritsusen

In the key of g

g a c d e

As guitar tabs

1:g1,a1; 2:d1,e1; 3:a1,c1; 4:e1,g1; 5:c1,d1; 6:g1,a1;

Again it misses the third defining it as neither minor nor major. It does have an interesting sound, however. If we move the seventh step of an Am^{7} down so it become the first note we play, we can play this scale on top of this chord. This chord can on a guitar in the key of a (Bm^{7}) be played as

1:; 2:d1; 3:b1; 4:f#1; 5:; 6:a1;
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