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Jazz Piano Lessons: Essential Jazz Scales: The Pentatonic Scale

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At this point, we're gonna add
a really great tool to our little toolbox
of improvisational tools And this one,
it's a little bit different philosophy.
We've covered the bop scales
first because I wanted to really
get in there the idea of minding
what you put on the beat.
And then we had our approach
patterns to hinge things together.
Now we're gonna discuss pentatonic scales.
And these are really great.
They have five notes per octave rather
than eight, like our bop scales have.
So when you play them,
if I play it from the bottom up
you can hear that it kinda sweeps
the keyboard more,
it covers more territory.
It's a more open thing with more space
between the notes since there's only five
per octave.
Very characteristic sound.
McCoy Tyner was the first
guy who really took this and
made it like a very recognizable
part of his vocabulary.
Chick Corea plays these
things all the time.
They are very useful on R&B music because
they don't sound characteristically bebop.
One thing that they have that's different,
let's start out by showing
you what the notes are.
And I'm going to talk about
the difference between these things and
the bop scales as we go.
I think of pentatonic
scales as minor scales.
Really, this here
is an A Flat major pentatonic scale to
most people's world.
Theres a reason, though, I think of
it as an F Minor pentatonic scale.
Some exact notes but
you just start on the F.
And the reason why is because there's
a little adaptation to it that I'm
gonna discuss in a couple minutes,
that makes it much easier to
think of it as a minor scale.
Here's the notes in it.
F, A Flat, B Flat, C, and E Flat.
So that's one, flat 3rd, perfect 4th,
5th, Flat 7 and again the root.
In any position it's the same,
root flat 3rd perfect
4th perfect 5th Flat 7.
The feature of these that I like
that right away at this lesson,
is gonna give us a different character
to the sound of our soloing,
is that these are different in
that there's not really the same
what Hal Galper refers to
as forward motion in these.
[SOUND] These things they don't really
resolve into each other every beat
the way that our bop scales do.
Rather, every note in it is kind
of cool and it works on the chord.
When we play our bop scale [SOUND] You
can hear that every bar is
the same notes as [SOUND].
That's one bar.
[SOUND] That's another bar.
And all of that is really presented great.
It all,
the tension resolution is very consistent.
It makes for a very fluid,
very driving line.
Pentatonics are different,
since there's five in each octave
by the time you've played eight notes,
now the next octave instead of starting on
the F it starts on the C.
One, two, three, four, five,
six, seven, eight, and
then the next octave is going
to start on the A Flat.
And that gives it a thing where kinda just
it's refreshing itself if you play
more than an octave's worth of it.
It's starting to give
you different colors,
different of the tones are on the beat.
Again, they're kind of
all okay on the beat.
So what we're gonna do here
Is I'm gonna show you,
the way that I finger the F Minor
seventh pentatonic scale and
then the reason that I think of these as
minor scales is because the other one,
[SOUND], is a minor
sixth pentatonic scale.
Instead of using the E flat we use the D.
And there's a couple of reasons
that we do that, that I'll get to.
But rather than think of, you know,
one scale for the A Flat Major pentatonic.
And then a different scale for
the F Minor 6 Pentatonic.
I prefer to think of them just
both as different flavors of
the F Minor pentatonic world.
Here is how I finger it.
Couldn't be simpler.
One, two, three, one, two, one, two,
three, one, two, one, two, three, one,
two, one, two, three, one, two, and on up.
you wanna get these where you have them
really, really fluid, like that.
Coming down, I generally,
it's the same fingering.
Sometimes, and
I couldn't even explain why,
sometimes, I prefer
to go with the third on the E Flat,but for
simplicity's sake,
let's leave it at the two,
one two three, one two,
one two three, one two,
one two three, one two,
and on up like that.
Now, when we play the F Minor six
up, it's the same idea.
One two three, one two, one two three,
one two, one, two, three,
one, two, one, two, three, one, two.
Like this.
On the way down though,
I like to go, four,
two, one, three, two, one, two, one.
So it's kind of the same on the way down.
I could actually start
on the thumb up here.
you can go with three,
two, one.
Then, two, one, three, sorry,
that's four, three, one,
two, one, four, three, one,
two, one, four, three.
one, two, one, four, three, one.
But for simplicities sake,
let's do the same up and down.
One, two, three, one, two, one, two,
three, one, two and one, two, one, three,
two, one, two, one, three, two, one,
two, one, three, two, one like this.
So all the notes of this
scale are cool on your chord.
We have an element to these, pentatonics,
where they're a little bit of
a wild card sound as we play up.
They automatically start putting
notes on the beat in the second
bar that are different then the notes that
you had on the beat in the first bar.
Nice addition to our sound.
The last thing I'm gonna say about
the pentatonics is that they are not just
for scales.
We are eventually gonna start studying
ways to use them intervallically.
That is a C Minor pentatonic scale and
that's an exercise that we're going
to get to in our advanced lessons.
But there's a lot of ways to
look at these things, they're,
just kind of a collection
of great notes to use.
Once you're seeing them,
without thinking about them,
it becomes very easy to construct.
That kind of thing.
That's all pentatonic scale and
just kind of by skipping between them,
it doesn't have to be
a linear thing like this.
But let's get ' under
our fingers first and
in the next lesson I'm gonna show
you a couple ways to do that.