Lesson #14: Modern Pentatonics Part 1 of 3

Click below for a PDF file of this lesson:


In the first part of this series, I give examples of licks using the material drawn from in lessons #11-13. In this first part, I simplify the technique of mixing pentatonics by relegating each lick to one position (more or less) and creating a solid 8th note line. This should give students an idea of where a good starting point lies in regards to this material. Also, you should take note that I only play over one chord (C-7.) The next series of licks will focus on the ii-V7 progression exclusively.

An Analysis of each lick

LICK # 1

Lick #1 stays with in the “parental” key of C Minor. There is a heavy emphasis on 4ths, which are often associated with the pentatonic scale due to its intervallic construction. Every student attempting to learn these licks should get acclimated to the feeling of playing wider intervals and abnormal fingerings at a fairly Fast tempo. Once other pentatonics are added into the overall scheme of things, one will be forced to make adjustments quickly.

LICK # 2

Lick # 2 mix’s 3 pentatonics: G min., C min, and D min. to create a Dorian effect. As noted before, the player may find the fingerings to this lick to be extremely challenging at faster tempos. In the second bar, one may choose to either bar the first 3 notes or alternate between the 3rd and 4th fingers. The last 5 notes make up a backwards C-9 arpeggio shape. Here, I prefer to bar the D to Bb and finger the following notes using the 3rd, 4th, and 1st fingers.


Lick #3 is prime example of poly-pentatonic use as discussed in Lesson #13. Here, I employ 4th’s and voice-lead the C minor pentatonic smoothly into the F# minor Pentatonic by way of the Bb to B. Also, one should note the use of the A Major 7th arpeggio derived from the F# minor pentatonic scale. Remember, a Pentatonic scale contains a Major and minor arpeggio with in it. Don’t be afraid to use them when constructing lines.


Lick #4 expands on the poly-pentatonic concept by side-slipping out 2 times. Once to the  F# minor pentatonic in the beginning and later to the C# minor pentatonic. Here. I employ voice-leading in the lines but notice that I change strings for easier fingerings. Sometimes one can get caught up in the visual aspect of the instrument and bypass much easier solutions for fingerings.


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