Major Pentatonic Scale

Major vs. Minor Freedom Blocks

What makes one pair of Freedom Blocks sound major or minor is the interval between the root note and the 3rd degree of the scale. In a major scale the 3rd degree is four frets away from the root. In a minor scale the 3rd degree is a flat 3rd. That moves it one fret closer to the root.

Major and minor chords have the same relationship with the 3rd degree of their scales. The only difference between the two chords below is the flat 3rd in the minor chord.

Comparison of an A major chord to an A minor chord.

The major pentatonic scale removes the 4th and 7th notes of the major scale. That leave two wide intervals (a rectangle) and three narrow intervals (a square). It's a major scale so it has a major 3rd.

(Major Scale Notation: E1-3-5-6-8-10-12-13)
(Major Pentatonic Scale Notation: E1-3-5-8-10-13)

Changes to major scale to create major pentatonic

Here's how those intervals fit into the major pentatonic Freedom Blocks.

Freedom Blocks for Major Pentatonic Scale. Row 1 of a square is 2nd and 3rd degrees. Row two is 5th and 6th degrees, and row 3 is root and 2nd degree of scale. Rectangle row 1 is 3rd degree and 5th degree; row 2 is 6th degree and 1 root of scale.

Even though the notes are different, major and minor Freedom Blocks work the same. The only visible difference is the position of the root notes.

Two square blocks, one major, the other minor. The different: minor root is on the left side of row 3 and the minor root is on the right side of the second row.

That changes where the root notes appear in the rectangles.

Same as previous illustration with overlapping rectangles.

Starting on the same root note your can play a major or minor pentatonic scale. The Freedom Blocks look similar except for where the root notes are located..

(Major Notation: E5, A2-4. D2-4. G2-4. shift B2-5, E2-5)
(Minor Notation: E5-8, A5-7, D5-7, G5-7, shift B5-8, E5-8)

Check notation.

Here is the A minor sequence you played for your first solo.

Reverse the notation for the previous illustration

Starting from the same root note, play these stepping squares in the key of A major. You might get lost because you're so use to playing the minor version. Try adding a slide in the first row of each square.

Check notation.

Cartoon character with French flag.Everything you've learned about minor Freedom Blocks applies to major Freedom Blocks. It's like taking a Spanish class and at the end of the semester your instructor announces that you've also learned to speak French.

Find a major key backing track and give your new found skill a test run. You can start on any root note. Be sure to keep an eye out for the B string.

Shapeless But Not Clueless

Once you understand major or minor Freedom Blocks, all you need is a root note.

(Location of A roots: E5, A0-12, D7, G2-14, B10, E5)

Show location of A root notes on the entire fretboard. The locations by string and fret are E5, A0-12, D7, G2-14, B10, E5

You're sitting on root note in the key of A major pentatonic. You're ready to move.

Cartoon character meditating on top of a red A root note.

Move to the left and you're in a rectangle heading to another square. Move to the right and improvising in a square. It's that simple.

A rectangle overlapping a square in a major key. You can move left into the rectangle or move to the right into a square.

As always you're free to move in whatever direction the groove takes you. That's what Freedom Blocks are all about.

Check notation.

Cartoon character sitting in a minor pentatonic rectangle that overlaps a square. Like he's driving a car.

Not to be left in the dust, here is the minor pentatonic guy.

Cartoon character sitting in a minor pentatonic rectangle that overlaps a square. Like the guy is driving a car made out of those two shapes.

“Repetition tends to draw us into a participatory stance so that we’re imagining the next note before it happens.” — Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, author of On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind


« Previous
Next »