When it comes to piano scales for improvisation, the pentatonic is one you will want to have fun with in all keys. Now, we already acknowledged the major pentatonic scale. Let’s look at it here, specifically the C pentatonic scale:
C D E G A C
As we have mentioned before, the major pentatonic scale consists of the 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the major scale. It cannot be overemphasized that learning this and other scales in the other keys will certainly be conducive to massive confidence.
Now that we have looked at the major pentatonic scale, we will use it as a foundation for playing the minor pentatonic scale. Just like the major scale has a relative minor scale, the minor pentatonic scale has a relative minor pentatonic scale.
If we begin the C major pentatonic scale on the A instead of the C and end it on an A, we have:
A C D E G A
There we have it! Yes, this is the A minor pentatonic scale. It’s one of those piano scales you’ll want to master. So, the formula is as follows: begin any major pentatonic scale on the 6th degree and end it on the same degree an octave higher and the result is the relative pentatonic scale.
We also have already spent some time acknowledging the blues scale. Well, let’s use this minor pentatonic scale as a foundation for playing a blues scale beginning on the same note. Maybe you have already noticed that the only difference between the minor pentatonic and the blues scale is one note.
Again, here is the A minor pentatonic scale:
A C D E G A
Now, let’s simply add an Eb (or a flat 5) to this and here is the result:
A C D Eb E G A
Yes, here we have the A blues scale!
So, there you have it! To arrive at any blues scale, simply play the minor pentatonic scale that begins on the same note and then add the b5, and you’ve got it!
It really helps when you can make associations like this when comparing scales. Let’s face it… we only have 12 different pitches. So, inevitably, there will be many similarities between the various scales that we will learn. Whenever the opportunity arises for us to associate one scale to another, this makes it easier for us to see a new scale for what it really is.
Again, you are highly encouraged to learn these scales in a number of different keys, as you confidence will absolutely soar as a result of doing so. As you become more and more technically in command of those keys, remember…
PLAY WITH PASSION!