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Pentatonic curiosities


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I learned the five patterns in 1993 and have heard a lot of discussions regarding which pattern is one and which is five. Even after going through pentatonic fluency, I still think there is an argument to be made for it really being pattern one. At the end of the day this is really just me being a nerd. I don't know how much of this thinking has an impact on actually playing lead guitar.

I do see how we can authentically call it pattern five. We know that pattern five emerges from major scale pattern six. Based on pattern five, how the rest of the notes unfold across the fretboard it most easily translates to a 2 note per string pattern and there is only space for five patterns. Therefore, we cannot call it pattern six, but why not pattern one. After all, it all emerges from the major scale and starting from the pinky in pattern five is the major root note. The argument really only holds water if we agree that the pentatonic scale patterns are numbered based on the major and not the minor. To me this makes sense because as I said before, we all know it came from the major scale so why would we not be consistent and start with the major pentatonic.

I have also heard the argument for why pattern one is considered pattern one and it is usually because those players start it with their first fingers. I was trained to use my middle and pinky fingers to "stay in position" unless I was intentionally setting up to shift positions.

Every player I have ever talked to about it learned pattern five as a minor pentatonic pattern and many were taught it as A minor, myself included. I am wondering now if learning first the major scale and then the pentatonic major pattern and numbering it one based on its inheritance from its major parent might reduce some of the confusion regarding learning and using scales effectively. In my overthinking of everything I sometimes walk away with a means to reduce the cognitive load in many learning tasks. Maybe this will be one of them.

I also have taken a few to ponder the modes in pentatonics. If there are only five notes in the scale, are there only those five corresponding modes available to play strictly in key?

Does any of this make sense or do I have entirely too much time on my hands. Haha 🙂

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Sivad. Lots of different patterns & scales out there more than the ones in BTG & the 7 in modes module. Referring to pentatonics, I often use. As you can change key note position & play Octaves or start same pattern from a different key note. I like so many Am blues so I'll attach that pattern set for you. Of course if you use the pattern from G key note you've got Gm. And so on, if ur looks for major pentatonic patt'n just Google it.

Hope this helps

Pentatonic Patterns_.jpeg

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