Podcast 13: Pentatonic Scales

Question by Kris Van Daele

Hi Marc,

Just a question about your ‘trick’ in Podcast 13 with the pentatonics.

Dm7 with the F and C as 3rd and 7th the Am pentatonic scale will work, also because it is in CM so Am pentatonic scale will work over the whole progression.

Then G7 with the B and F outlined in the chord how does this sound in the Bbm pentatonic scale(Bb, Db,Eb,Ab,F). You can only play the F ???? I don’t get the sound like you played….

And in the CMaj7 the E and B with the Bm Pentatonic scale (B, D, E,F#,A) It just sound messy and i feel like it wants to keep going to C Major scale or Am pentatonic ???

What notes did you play in the podcast example and did you realy only played the minor pentatonic shapes???

M-A’s Answer:

Hello Kris,

Listen to all the podcasts here… (Kris is talking about Podcast #13 from July 2012)

itunes jazz guitar podcasts

Yes, I unfortunately have to announce to you that I was indeed trying as much as I could to play on the three pentatonic scales only. Minimum outside notes… and I was trying to convey the sound of each scale by playing in good (interesting) rhythms. (-:

So about the theory now:

  • Using Am pentatonic for Dm7 sound. Very consonant. All good (checkmark).
  • Using Bbm pentatonic for G7 sound: oh, what’s that?!

Why would we have the notes Bb, Db, Eb, F and Ab on a G7 chord? Simple answer: we get all the nice altered notes! We find the #9, b9, b5 and #5 or G7 in the Bbm pentatonic (You can double check this).

As you may be aware, it’s always nice to create tension in dominant chords because we tend to hear “the need” for the altered notes to resolve back to something more stable. This choice is much more fun than staying in plain old C major, right?!

All good?

  • Using Bm pentatonic for C major sound: “messy”? Do you really think so?

In analysis we have B, D, E, F#, A … the degree 2, 3, 6 and 7 of the C major scale with an added #11 (that’s the F#). This is outlining the C lydian mode pretty clearly.

All good?

To summarize: it may take a while for your ears to get accustomed to those sounds. As I’ve said in the podcast this is not something to play “all the time” on a II-V-I, just little trick to spice things up once in a while. You can also, certainly, mix and match your regular scale choices and those pentatonic thingys.

I hope this helps,


Marc-Andre Seguin
“Improve Your Jazz Guitar Playing with a REAL Teacher”

Old Comments for Podcast 13: Pentatonic Scales

Jul 30, 2012
podcast #13
by: kris

Yes, thanks again Marc for another swift reply. I do get it now… My mistake came more from a rhythm point I noticed. Thanks.

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