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Alternate (Not Altered) Pentatonic Licks
Copyright 2012-2013, Scott Cook Music All rights reserved www.scottcookmusic.com Email: scott@scottcookmusic.com
Using common scale patterns in less-common situations
Most guitar players are comfortable with major and minor pentatonic scales, especially the box-shaped
pattern that spans four frets (Ex.01). When learning to apply this pattern, its easy to build that pattern above
the root of whatever chord youre soloing over and leave it at that. But musicians are sometimes stumped
when it comes to using pentatonic scales built on notes other than a given chords root.
This lesson includes a few short (2mm) licks that use alternate (not altered) pentatonic scales. They are
alternate in that they are built on notes other than the underlying chords root. However, they restrict
themselves to the familiar fingerings, making them quick and easy to learn. Example 2 is in the minor mode,
suggesting an altered-dominant sound that resolves to a minor tonic. Example 3 is in the major mode,
suggesting a Lydian (or Maj7#11) sound.
Ex.01: The familiar box-shaped pentatonic pattern:
Ex.02: These lines can be used over a V7i, in the key of D minor. The line in the first measure uses a Gmin Pentatonic
scale over the A7 chord, which produces a nice altered sound. Generally speaking, when playing over V in a minor key,
try playing the minor pentatonic scale whose root is a perfect-5th below the tonic of the key youre in (where, in this
case, G is a perfect-5th below D).
Ex.03: These lines can be used over the chord AMaj7#11. This chord type is used in a lot of non-diatonic, contemporary
jazz writing (listen to the music of Kenny Wheeler, for instance). The lines use a BMaj Pentatonic scale over the A chord.
Generally speaking, when playing over a Maj7#11, try playing the major pentatonic scale whose root is a whole-step
above the root of the chord that youre soloing over. Note how Ex.03B could also be understood as resolving to EMaj,
suggesting a IVI progression in the key of E major.
A.
A7
A.
AMaj7#11
B.
AMaj7#11 EMaj
Dmin A7 Dmin
B.
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