Country School: Major Pentatonic Scale-Chords

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The definitive scale-chord pairing in country music is the Major Triad and its parallel Major Pentatonic Scale

Applied to the “big three” chords in the key of C, we get three sets of matched “scale-chords” or “chord-scales” as follows:

The C Chord (I) is paired with the C Major Pentatonic Scale

piano-ology-country-school-major-pentatonic-scale-chords-c-notation
piano-ology-country-school-major-pentatonic-scale-chords-c-keyboard

Notice that the chord tones C-E-G (1-3-5) are harmonically stable, while D(2) & A(6) are harmonically active suspensions that crave resolution to a chord tone.


The F Chord (IV) is paired with the F Major Pentatonic Scale

piano-ology-country-school-major-pentatonic-scale-chords-f-notation
piano-ology-country-school-major-pentatonic-scale-chords-f-keyboard

Notice that the chord tones F-A-C (1-3-5) are harmonically stable, while G(2) & D(6) are harmonically active suspensions that crave resolution to a chord tone.

Note: The key center has not shifted to F. C is still the key center Do.


The G Chord (V) is paired with the G Major Pentatonic Scale

piano-ology-country-school-major-pentatonic-scale-chords-g-notation
piano-ology-country-school-major-pentatonic-scale-chords-g-keyboard

Notice that the chord tones G-B-D (1-3-5) are harmonically stable, while A(2) & E(6) are harmonically active suspensions that crave resolution to a chord tone.

Note: The key center has not shifted to G. C is still the key center Do.


Homework: Play this pattern for all major triads. By the way, you already know 3 of the 12 (Only 9 more to go!).

learn more… Floyd Cramer Licks: The First Lesson