Skip to main content

How to Play Major / Minor Pentatonic Scales

Learn how to play major / minor pentatonic scales in this Howcast video.


Hey, I'm Troy Roberts and today we're going to talk about pentatonic scales. The way a pentatonic scale is built or where it derives from is from the major scale. If we were to give the major scale degrees, it would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. If I were to play the G major scale, I'm going to use scale degrees 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 to get the G major pentatonic scale. That's the G major pentatonic scale up and down.

As with major and minor scales, the minor pentatonic scale derives from the major pentatonic scale. It's its relative minor, so we can find this by starting on the 6th of the major scale degree or the last note of the major pentatonic scale. In this case, that's E, so we've got the G major pentatonic being G, A, B, D, and E. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6. The minor pentatonic scale related to that is going to be the E minor pentatonic scale, which is E, G, A, B, and D. Same notes as G but we're starting in E.

If we were to shift this into another key, for example, C on the alto saxophone, we would go 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 in the key of C major. And then playing its relative minor would begin using the same notes, would begin on A. That's your major and minor pentatonic scales.

Popular Categories