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Cello Lessons: D Minor Pentatonic - Improvisation

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[MUSIC]
D pentatonic minor.
It's a long name for a scale that
will already sound familiar to you.
D pentatonic minor is the name
of the scale that occupies
most of American popular music,
starting with the blues and a lot of jazz,
but actually, a lot of rock music that
was blues inspired, a lot of Beatles and
Clapton and 70s rock uses
the D minor pentatonic scale.
And you'll even hear a lot
of this in pop music today.
So I like to call this
the million dollar scale
because I'm pretty sure it's the only
scale that John Mayer knows but he's made
a million dollars with it because it's
the best scale in the whole world.
Actually, I love John Mayer,
didn't mean to detract from John Mayer.
I was just using him as an example even
though he's a very educated person.
Anyway.
D minor pentatonic scale.
We're gonna improvise in it.
Let's do a couple call and
response phrases first,
just to get some vocabulary, okay.
Repeat after me
[MUSIC]
one, two,
ready, go,
[MUSIC]
listen to that one,
we've got some syncopation
in there,
[MUSIC]
ready play,
[MUSIC]
okay how about,
[MUSIC]
one, two, ready,
play,
[MUSIC]
listen again,
[MUSIC]
ready, play,
[MUSIC]
nice.
So those are kind of some rhythmic phrases
that you can use in blues, rock and pop.
And maybe some more melodic phrases.
When you play this scale really slow and
smooth,
it actually sounds like it
has an Asian flavor to it,
there's a lot of Asian melodies,
from China particularly,
that also use this scale.
[MUSIC]
Let's play that.
Ready, and
[MUSIC]
and we try another,
[MUSIC]
ready and,
[MUSIC]
good, let's see,
what else can we do?
[MUSIC]
That's like a little two
riff phrase there.
Listen once more and
then we'll play it together.
Ready?
And.
[MUSIC]
Nice.
So, there's a lot of phrases you can play.
Let's see how it sounds over the drone.
What we can do, is we can do our guide
tone improvisation with this scale,
even though we don't have as many
notes as we did with D minor.
So I'm
gonna improvise
around D,
[MUSIC]
now over
F,
[MUSIC]
now over
G,
[MUSIC]
go to A,
[MUSIC]
C, then
we end at
the octave.
[MUSIC]
So I want you to practice this scale with
the drone and
do some modal guide tone improvisation.
And see if you can really
avoid the second and
sixth scale degrees that
we have in D natural minor.
We really wanna hear the difference
between these scales,
even though they're
really closely related.
Next, of course will be the rhythmic
improvisation in D minor.
Let's try with the metronome and
the drone.
This scale's particularly suited
to some sweet rhythmic riffs.
So I'll demonstrate a little bit for you.
[MUSIC]
Yeah.
All right.
D minor pentatonic feels great
in a rhythmic situation.
You can also try and
practice with the jazz backing track.
Now, the jazz backing track has a lot
of full harmonies that are implying
a fuller scale.
But if you play just the pentatonic
minor scale over it,
it's gonna have this
expansive space to it.
And this is a lot of what Miles Davis
did in his kind of blue phase,
sort of using simple scales and
simple phrases even when the harmonies
are implying something more complex.
So let's see how that sounds.
D minor.
Yeah.
[SOUND]
[MUSIC]
Yeah.
That feels so nice to play D pentatonic
minor over those jazz harmonies.
Explore this on your own.
Practice improvising over a drone,
with a modal guide tone improve.
Practice with a metronome, and you can
try all sorts of different rhythms.
And you can even get into the feel of
a Jazz band with that backing track.
[MUSIC]