Mixing major and minor pentatonics

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Zingeroo, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Clapton's Crossroads solo starts with 3 bars of A major pent, slipping into A minor pent for 3 bars before blurring them both together beyond there (mainly because he's also referring to chord tones on the way).

    The classic mix of major and minor pent is the Johnny B Goode intro (all 12 bars of it). Mostly they're blended together as an 8-note scale ("mixo-dorian"?), but the 4th bar is wholly major pent.
     
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  2. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Kimock is the real guru on blues's true (non-western) language (truly in-tune notes between the supposed "in-tune" notes), but if that's too esoteric for you right now, here's some guidelines on staying with the pent scales you know.

    1. It's really about chord tones - following the changes. Which of the pents has the most chord tones in it?
    Code:
    A BLUES
      A MAJOR PENT: A  .  B  .  C# .  .  E  .  F# .  .  A
      A MINOR PENT: A  .  .  C  .  D  .  E  .  .  G  .  A
    A7 CHORD TONES: A  .  .  .  C# .  .  E  .  .  G  .  A
    D7 CHORD TONES: A  .  .  C  .  D  .  .  .  F# .  .  A
    E7 CHORD TONES: .  .  B  .  .  D  .  E  .  .  .  G# .
    
    So you can see that major pent fits the A7 best, while the minor pent fits the D7 better (especially if you also consider the 9th of each chord) - while neither fit the E7 too well! Generally you can steam through the E7 regardless (it's only one bar!), if your phrasing is confiident enough.
    Alternatively, switch to E minor pent on the E7 (if you can stay in the same position).

    But there's an alternative approach (more country/jazz-ish) which is to use the "major blues" scale of each chord. That's the major pent with added #2/b3. This has a very distinctive sound worth trying out - much brighter than the usual blues sound. It suits uptempo swing blues, a happy feel.
    A major blues: A . B C C# . . E . F# . . A
    D major blues: D . E F F# . . A . B . . A
    E major blues: E . F# G G# . . B . C# . . E
    Obviously each one contains all 3 triad tones - missing the b7, but adding the b3 to give a mildly bluesy element. So it's a lot more "inside" than the other "pents of the key" approach.

    Naturally you can embellish that approach by adding the b7 of each chord to the scale in each case. (But then you may be able to see where that is leading.... out of the pents and into full 7-note scales...)
     
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  3. fezz parka

    fezz parka Member

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    I like Eric Clapner. lol
     
  4. Zingeroo

    Zingeroo Member

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    Thank you all for your wonderful responses! Much for me to digest and woodshed.
     
  5. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    And his band Tetracycline.
     
  6. flatnine

    flatnine Member

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    Clapner is god!
     
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  7. Turi

    Turi Member

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    ^ the post quoted in this (which didn't show up when I quoted the post) by @kimock is freaking brilliant and everybody who plays blues needs to read it.
    If you just do what it says, you'll really get it and make the right sounds start happening.
    I was referred to that post by someone here on TGP a while ago, and immediately attempted to (and failed at) incorporate it into my playing.
    The small part I managed to incorporate right off that bat, was the right sound, those blue notes are what it's all about here, check this out:



    I recorded that clip after taking the advice of some TGPers, and kept that post in mind, I screwed up the blues notes order when doing it but it didn't even matter, what I did manage to do sounded pretty cool and I've since kept that post in my mind.
    It's just about F'ing with the chords. You wanna screw that E chord as hard as possible with that G blues note.


    Here's a clip I recorded that combines major and minor pentatonics together, combining the two definitely has it's own sound/vibe for sure.
    Not everyone gets it.


    It's a little all over the shop but yeah.

    Two things I think might help you out are the Albert King box and the BB King box.
    The Albert King box and BB King box are awesome. The Albert King box is naturally minor sounding and lends itself to some awesome bends, and the BB King box is naturally major sounding.. the BB King box isn't easy to just start wingin' it with, you'll want to check it out and understand it before you can get the most out of it imo...
    http://www.premierguitar.com/ext/resources/images/content/2014_09/LESS/Sep14_LESS_DeepBlues_EX1.jpg

    From what I've noticed - you'll almost ALWAYS want to bend that 2 up to whichever 3 you want - bending up to the b3 will give you a minor sound, bend it up another semitone and you'll get a major sound. You'll barely ever want to just land on the 2. Always a stepping stone for the bends up one of the 3s.
    The 6 is usually used as like.. a rebound note.. you hit the 6 in between other notes.. won't make sense 'til you try it, try sliding up to the 6, hitting the 1, then bouncing back to the 6 and bending the 2 up to the b3.. the 6 is a great inbetween note.
    It's also not in the normal blues scale.
    You can also bend the 5 up a whole tone, or you can hit the fret above the 5 and bend it up a semitone.. kinda like an extension to the box.
    This box is pretty major sounding, you need to work it a bit to get the minor sounds you want out of it, ime.

    Shift between the Albert King box and BB King box and you'll definitely hear that one is minor sounding and the other is major sounding.

    Another trick is to change where you're playing from and follow the chords, I.E in A, you might base your position on the A pentatonics from fret 5 low E string.
    When the D chord hits, shift the position to fret 10 on low E string. Just kinda stalk the chords.
    When E chord hits, shift to fret 12 (or open) on low E string.
    Really basic I know but it helps add something to your playing if you're not already doing it, you'll use notes you wouldn't use by just camping the one position.

    In doing this, you can also use other positions that work over the chords, I.E over the A chord, shift down 3 frets to the F# position and the notes you're playing are all found in the A major pentatonic position.
    Over that D chord, shift to the B pentatonic spot and it's notes found in D major.. over E, shift to C# position.
    Doing that will help you more easily shift between major and minor sounds as well.

    As for rules on when to do it, I got nothin'.. just whatever sounds good.
    I approached this post as if I'm trying to help you incorporate both major and minor into you're playing, rather than telling you when to do it.

    The more comfortable I get with the fretboard the less these positions mean, I'm viewing the fretboard as basically it's own instrument now, and looking at it as if it's just notes.. not so much shapes and boxes, but those shapes and boxes really helped me out so far and probably always will.
    I'm finding it easier and easier to just play whatever sounds good in my head now.. a big part of that has come from learning those boxes and doing the position shifting tricks.. the whole time, I've been keeping in mind what notes I'm playing and how the relate to both the key of the song and also what chord I'm currently playing over.

    Mixing major and minor is awesome.. I reckon you just do it.. F seeking out any 'rules' per say.
     
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  8. Phletch

    Phletch Member

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    Here's a few. I'm sure there are "better" examples, but these are good - and they're accessible. You'll easily hear what it is you're looking for. Cop some of the licks to see/hear what's going on. And, really, it's best in the long run to not think of this stuff in terms of "mixing major and minor pents." Think of it as one big "blues scale", and learn to hear what tones to pull from that scale at any given time over any given chord to say what you gotta say. And read that post from Steve Kimock that I quoted earlier. He says it better than I'll ever be able to.

    Anyway, Duane's solo starting @3:35


    Mick Taylor's solo starting @ 1:43


    And, don't laugh, but this is some good stuff (it's actually a satire, taking the piss out of some really bad blues by white guys he'd heard in the late 60s in Greenwich Village). Danny Kortchmar's solo @ 2:31. It's also worthwhile to check-out Clarence McDonald's piano solo that proceeds the guitar solo.
     
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  9. tweedster

    tweedster Member

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    The Clapton major minor workout that is clearest in implementation is the original studio solo to "Badge" by Cream.
     
  10. mojo jones

    mojo jones Member

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    He certainly hopped back and forth from Maj to min pent in "Sunshine of Your Love".
     
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  11. Fuimus Troes

    Fuimus Troes Member

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    THIS. One of the greatest solos of all time.

    Though for this idea played in a Blues context I'd recommend Peter Green's The Stumble. Masterful.
     
  12. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Does anyone have any comment on what makes the clash of the b3 (blu note in Kimock's terms) against the M3 in the I7 chord (or the other clashes) work in a blues context? Does that clash have an emotional content or connotation that lends itself to the subject matter of 'the blues'? Or am I just talking BS.
     
  13. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Freddie King?
     
  14. Swain

    Swain Member

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    So, in an "A Blues", A7, D7, E7

    The C Note is basically representing the Septimal 7th. of the IV7 Chord (D F# A C).
    The IV7 Chord being the Sub-Dominant Chord of the I7 Chord, is more of a leading tone into the I7 Chord.
    One thing to remember, is that Notes are usually represent more than one Pitch. I'm sure others here will jump all over this and explain it more clearly, and fix any mistakes I might have made.
    Bues is a very complex subject. It's definately not a simple thing to describe in a forum.

    I hope this helps a little, without throwing everything off course.
     
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  15. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    That makes sense. I neglected to consider leading tones.
     
  16. L6s

    L6s Member

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    Griff Hamlin has two good basic videos on using major and minor.



     
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  17. Fuimus Troes

    Fuimus Troes Member

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    For sure. But PG's version on the John Mayall album is overflowing with what we're talking about in this thread, more so than even Freddie's original or in EC's version of Hideaway.
     
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  18. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    So, in basic diatonic terms, the C is the b7 of D, and that same C is the "b3" of A.

    But these two C pitches don't behave the same at all. On the I7 I have the desire to give that C a micro bend ever so slightly and that is a far more appealing sound than the unbent C.

    Am I correct in thinking this septimal 7th of the IV7 is actually a tad lower than the guitars given C? Almost the polar opposite of what happened with the I7?

    All meaning the guitar is out of tune for these tones.

    How correct am I with this so far?
     
  19. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    Here is the C major pent
    -3
    -3
    -2
    -2
    -3
    -

    Here is the C minor pent
    -3
    -4
    -3
    -3
    -3
    -

    The root and 5th don't change. The rest of the tones are chromatic.

    E-F
    A- Bb
    D-Eb

    This organization is all over the neck in stacked 4ths that can be used in soloing as well as a chromatic quartal approach to chord soloing over the blues. It's easy and groovy.
     
  20. tenchijin2

    tenchijin2 Member

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    One thing that is a "big picture" answer to the OP is not to think of scales so much as phrases and their sing-ability. In other words, thinking to yourself "here I'm going to switch to major for a bar, then back to minor..." is not really what you're after. You really want to be able to *hear* what you're playing and play what you're hearing. The phrase you're expressing may contain major and minor elements but it's not necessary to plan that or separate it.

    It's easier said than done, for some of us. In fact it's a major problem for me as a mediocre player.
     

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