Major Pentatonic Scale: Theory & Ear Training

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As the name suggests, the Major Pentatonic Scale has five notes and a major quality…

… and is yet another existence proof that scales are not made up of “half-steps” and “whole-steps”.

Theory

Here, for example, are the notes in the C Major Pentatonic identified by letter name, scale degree (numbers), and Solfege syllable…

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  1. The scale structure of the Major Pentatonic Scale is always 1-2-3-5-6-1, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Major Pentatonic Scale are always Do-Re-Mi-So-La-Do, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Comparative Scale Study

Notice that the Major Pentatonic Scale is a subset of the Major Scale...

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The absence of the two most harmonically active notes (Fa and Ti) give the Major Pentatonic Scale a relaxed and dreamy quality.

The Major Pentatonic Scale in Action

All in the Family (Key of Gb)

Amazing Grace (Key of C) ???

Jessica Piano Solo (Chuck Leavell, Allman Brothers) (Key of A)

Solfege Ear Training

Reading and singing the Solfege syllables out loud is a very effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in a musical scale. Reminder: It is absolutely essential that you sing these out loud… and to play and sing slowly enough to allow the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable to make an impression on your mind’s ear.

C Major Pentatonic Scale: Linear, Ascending…

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C Major Pentatonic Scale: Linear, Descending…

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C Major Pentatonic Scale: Do-X-Do, Ascending…

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C Major Pentatonic Scale: Do-X-Do, Descending…

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learn more… Minor Pentatonic Scale: Theory & Ear Training