Minor Pentatonic Freedom Blocks

We'll start with the most popular improvisation scale, the minor pentatonic.

"As a music teacher, I am constantly amazing people who previously had no musical experience, by showing them they can play music, if they use the magic pentatonic scale." — Willy Minnix

The five-note minor pentatonic scale is a scaled down version of the seven-note natural minor scale. Below is an F minor pentatonic scale laid out on the low E string. The 2nd and 6th notes of the minor scale are removed, and two of the remaining notes are moved down one fret . This will not be on the final exam. There is no final exam.

(Notation for F major scale: E1-3-5-6-8-10-12-13)
(Notation for F minor pentatonic scale: E1-4-6-8-11-13)

Changes from major scale to minor pentatonic scale

What's left are three narrow (2-fret) intervals and two wide (3-fret) intervals.

Shows a wide interval followed by two narrow ones, followed by a wide and then another narrow interval.

The narrow intervals form a square and the wide intervals form a rectangle.

Minor pentatonic scale scale degrees in a square start on bottom row: 4 and 5; second row: flat 7th and 1 or root; third row: flat 3rd and 4th. Row one of rectangle: 5th and flat 7; second row: 1 or root and flat 3rd.

Lead guitar players love the minor pentatonic scale, because they don't have to worry about playing unpleasant or dissonant notes. If their band is playing an A minor chord or key, they can play any of the five notes in the A minor pentatonic scale, anywhere on their guitar and they'll sound good.

"Improvisation is the only art form in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time. It is the hidden things, the subconscious that lets you know you feel this, you play this." — Ornette Coleman

Red Notes are Special

The red root notes are the root note of the scale or key of a song. Scales are like roller coasters, you go up and down, fast and slow, but there's always that point of relief when you reach a flat spot, even if two seconds later you're hanging upside down in a barrel roll. The point of relief or resolution in music is when you land on the root of the scale.

I'll refer to these intervals as rows 1, 2, and 3.

Show Freedom Block square with row 1 on the lowest string, row two on the next higher string, and row three on next string higher than row 2. Likewise, row 1 is on the lower string and row two is on the next higher string.

Here are a few more definitions before we get started.

Freedom Block square on a photo of a fretboard showing that row 1 is on lower strings and rows 2 and 3 on higher strings. Shows the root or first degree of the scale on the right side of row two in the square. On the lower left is an orange corner note. Another orange corner note is on the right side of row three. Show open strings names as E, A, D, G, B, and E. Shows lower strings are thicker and illustrates frets.

"I've played for over twenty years. Bands, touring, recording, endless jamming. I read your ebook recently and the way the pentatonic blocks are laid out should have been obvious or mentioned by somebody at some point. But they weren't, and it's a facepalm moment when you see the pattern so clearly after decades!"


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