Soloing with Lateral Pentatonic Scales

November 25, 2016:
Soloing with Lateral Pentatonic Scales

PART ONE: The first half of this MasterClass focuses on learning shapes that can connect different registers of the fingerboard with both Major and Minor Pentatonic scale patterns. Example one applies a two octave run of scale tones from the major Pentatonic. Example two demonstrates a three octave group of tones in the Minor Pentatonic that applies a varied rhythmic meter. Both examples can have their scale sections combined to form a long laterally connected run.

Watch Part 2 of this lesson and learn how to apply these lateral Pentatonic shapes musically using ascending and descending scale runs. Both major and minor melodies are shown in examples three and four. Paid members can download the handout and the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at:



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  1. The pentatonnic scale has, of late, drawn considerable attention by jazz artists as a tool in their improvisation. Perhaps as a reaction to the melodic patterns of their improvisation. Perhaps as a reaction to the melodic patterns of the Bop Era that were based primarily on chords with third intervals, many jazz artists, such as Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, and Joe Farrell, turned to pentatonic scales and pattterns in fourths and fifths as means of expressing their music. In the continuing evolution of music, it must be remembered that events that appear as a departurre almost always have roots in the past. The use of pentatonic is no exception. Numerous tunes of the 40´s and 50´s used pentatonic scale as an integral part of their molodies (Symphony Sid, Moanin, Cousing May).

    The Purpose of this book is to acquaint the avanced high school or college improviser with the vast resource of melodic material available through the use of pentatonic scales. It is not intended to be used as a complete method of improvisation, but rather as a supplement to other, more comprehensive, book which deal with chord/scale relationships, sustitute chords, melodic development, swing, etc. If pentatonics are used exclusively in improvisation the result can be a rather predictable, stereotyped sound. The author can not stress enough the continued study of chord/scale relationships and their application to jazz improvisation.

    This method, if studied diligently, can provide the student with materials to build a harmonically "outside" improvisation while still retaining a logical basis. The use of these scales has proved particularly effective in turnarounds, and in modal or vamp playing. They also can be used with satisfying results in nearly every other circumstance in jazz. Because the scales often only hint at basic sonority while outlining the upper extensions of a chord, a skating quality above the changes is achieved. This is discussed in detail in Chapter II.