Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 41 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
As a guitar player I learned pentatonics this way

12356 major 61235 minor
Cdega acdega

Reading about pentatonics for sax, it says major stays the same, but minor is C d Eb f g Bb.

?...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
57 Posts
In your first example, you've described C major and its relative minor, which is Am. This is why both scales have the same notes but a different starting point.

In your second example, you've described Cm, which is the relative minor of Eb major.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
In your first example, you've described C major and its relative minor, which is Am. This is why both scales have the same notes but a different starting point.

In your second example, you've described Cm, which is the relative minor of Eb major.
Thanks, that makes sense to me now.
The website I read failed to do that.
 

·
Moderator
Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
Joined
·
28,953 Posts
Thanks, that makes sense to me now.
The website I read failed to do that.
No, that way of thinking is a shortcut - helps you find the fingering but screws up any relevance to the actual harmony and your grounding within the key centre, which has to be the no 1 priority in that scenario.

In fact this question is not so much about pentatonics per se, because the same applies to major scales and modes as well. We can think of A minor as a C scale starting on VI, but so much better to think of it as a minor scale starting on I, so the crucial difference between major and minor ie the size/quaility of the intreval of a 3rd between I and II is obvious.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,962 Posts
FWIW, music theory doesn’t know or care which instrument you are playing. The rules are immutable.

I would question any website that claims music theory rules exclusive to saxophone.

As a guitar player I learned pentatonics this way

12356 major 61235 minor
Cdega acdega

Reading about pentatonics for sax, it says major stays the same, but minor is C d Eb f g Bb.

?...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
919 Posts
As a guitar player I learned pentatonics this way

12356 major 61235 minor
Cdega acdega

Reading about pentatonics for sax, it says major stays the same, but minor is C d Eb f g Bb.

?...
pentatonic is a 5 note scale. so the version you have written with 6 notes, starting on c, is not a pentatonic scale

so, starting on c we can get

major pentatonic: C D E G A
minor pentatonic C Eb F G Bb ( this can be thought of as derived from Eb major, and may be the one you are thinking about. but the d is not in it . it is the C equivalant of the A minor that you mention)
minor pentatonic C D Eb G A ie simply take the major version and flatten the 3rd.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,027 Posts
+1 to all the responses above. As Pete says, it's very important to keep in mind the tonal center. You're on the right track using a number system, but it's important to base it on the key center (or root, when dealing with chords). So for major and minor pentatonic scales:

major pent = 1 2 3 5 6

minor pent = 1 b3 4 5 b7

Also there are other pentatonic scales (as KMR pointed out, pentatonic refers to any 5 note scale).

Another minor pentatonic that I like is 1 2 b3 5 6. That's a different variation, but it's still minor due to the b3.
 

·
The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum
Joined
·
27,650 Posts
My impression is that a Pentatonic is a five-note scale that, specifically, avoids the 7th. That that's the main purpose of it.

Pete touched on the harmonic progression. Avoiding the 7th also avoids a forward motion that is implied by the 7th; major 7th, minor 7th, dominant 7th. No 7th and you don't necessarily know what harmonic function is implied. It is both a weakness in that it doesn't firmly identify the forward motion, and liberating at the same time, because you're not tied to it.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,027 Posts
My impression is that a Pentatonic is a five-note scale that, specifically, avoids the 7th. That that's the main purpose of it.
That's an interesting idea gary. But what about the 'common' minor pentatonic that includes the 7th (b7)?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,835 Posts
Another minor pentatonic that I like is 1 2 b3 5 6. That's a different variation, but it's still minor due to the b3.
I think I read somewhere this refered to as the "coltrane" minor pentatonic? Can't quite remember for sure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,825 Posts
An interesting thing about the common pentatonic scale (Major - 1 2 3 5 6 and Minor - 1 b3 4 5 b7) is that it can be found in music from almost every culture in the world. Many old European folk songs, Chinese folk songs, African folk songs, Indian folk songs and Native American songs have been created with those scales. There's something about it that appeals to the human brain.

Another interesting thing about the scale is that if you start on the third note of the major scale, or the fourth note of the minor one, you can construct the notes in the scale by going up by fourths. C major/A minor: E A D G C.

I have found it useful to improvise restricting myself to these notes - for example in Rhythm Changes (or any tune that stays close to one key center), find notes from that scale that fit the chord of the moment, and use only that scale to approach and decorate those notes. It's a different flavor, and can provide a nice contrast when you break in or out of it.

Another interesting approach is to use a DIFFERENT pentatonic - Rhythm Changes in Bb (C for tenor, G for alto), use the F major pentatonic (G for tenor, D for Alto) to construct melodies, using the same kind of approach as above, the sound is kind of "floating" above the changes because you never play the root of the key center.

I loves me my pentatonics :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
7,136 Posts
Another one it is very useful is 1 2 b3 5 6.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
An interesting thing about the common pentatonic scale (Major - 1 2 3 5 6 and Minor - 1 b3 4 5 b7) is that it can be found in music from almost every culture in the world. Many old European folk songs, Chinese folk songs, African folk songs, Indian folk songs and Native American songs have been created with those scales. There's something about it that appeals to the human brain.
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/feb/15/ice-age-flute

Yes, it seems that people have been listening to pentatonic based music for a really long time. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
+1 to all the responses above. As Pete says, it's very important to keep in mind the tonal center. You're on the right track using a number system, but it's important to base it on the key center (or root, when dealing with chords). So for major and minor pentatonic scales:

major pent = 1 2 3 5 6

minor pent = 1 b3 4 5 b7
Why is first minor pent numbered like that though?
I think thats what confuses me, eg in aminor the b3 makes me think i should play Cb as the third, though I now know not to
Its just convention I suppose?
 

·
Moderator
Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
Joined
·
28,953 Posts
This is just one of those odd conventions because when talking intervals in numbers we are often talking generally with no reference to key signature or whether it’s major or minor, so in that case it’s all based off major.

Technically you might argue that it can be misleading to say b3 when the 3 is already defined in the key signature as minor, so in D minor the 3 is already F natural. We don’t think in this case b3 is Fb.

I suppose there is some sense because, as we know, the numbering system applies to any key and unless we say otherwise people think in the major. Perhaps it came before minor, who knows?

Another reason may be that there is only one basic scale when we refer to (e.g.) a tune in C major, but there are several scales that could be implied when we say a tune is in C minor.

So:

if you are in Cm , then 1 is C and b3 is Eb.

If 1 is A minor then then b3 is C

If 1 is D minor then then b3 is F

So odf course, 3 is only Cb if 1 is Ab minor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
The numbering system applies to any key.

So if you are in Cm , then 1 is C and b3 is Eb. If 1 is D minor then then b3 is F.

3 is only Cb if 1 is Ab minor.

Technically you might argue that it can be misleading to say b3 when the 3 is already defined in the key signature as minor, so in D minor the 3 is already F natural. We don’t think in this case b3 is Fb.

This is just one of those odd conventions because when talking intervals in numbers we are often talking generally with no reference to key signature or whether it’s major or minor, so in that case it’s all based off major.
Its a lot easier for me to think in numbers more than scale tones.
I don't know why? just maybe from playing bass and guitar for years.
On bass I learned 5 pent shapes which stay the same, you just shift the keys starting point, sax is so much different fingerings to remember for every key.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
Any 5 pitches within an octave can be a pentatonic, and there's lots of options for cool sounds that way. But -- sticking with the normal garden-variety pentatonic -- there's two important facts to keep in mind:

1) "Major" and "minor" pentatonic are the SAME, just starting on different degrees:

1 2 3 5 6 = C D E G A (C Major pentatonic)
6 1 2 3 5 = A C D E G (A minor pentatonic)

2) Any major scale contains within it 3 major pentatonics, starting on the scale degrees 1, 4, and 5:

C D E G A = starting on C in C major
F G A C D = starting on F in C major
G A B D E = starting on G in C major

If you want to play conventional popular sounds, the first is "correct". However, all three can be used -- for example, listen to Coltrane during the "Love Supreme" era.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
My impression is that a Pentatonic is a five-note scale that, specifically, avoids the 7th. That that's the main purpose of it.

Pete touched on the harmonic progression. Avoiding the 7th also avoids a forward motion that is implied by the 7th; major 7th, minor 7th, dominant 7th. No 7th and you don't necessarily know what harmonic function is implied. It is both a weakness in that it doesn't firmly identify the forward motion, and liberating at the same time, because you're not tied to it.
It's a matter of opinion, but I think your statement is true only of the normal major pentatonic 1 2 3 5 6.
Minor pentatonic 1 b3 4 5 b7 clearly states the 7th degree.
And other pentatonic scales emphasize the 7th degree -- a personal favorite is the Japanese pentatonic 1 3 4 6 7, which uses the 7th degree beautifully.
 
1 - 20 of 41 Posts
Top