How to Use Pentatonic Scales in Your Music, and What Are They?

    What is a pentatonic scale, and what is it? Scales are a group of notes that sound great together. If you want to know more about these details, you are at the right place.

    The pentatonic scale has been in existence for a couple of years. The scales were developed several years ago by independent civilizations, and musicians made millions from playing them. However, it’s not easy to make millions from it these days. It’s one of the most used scales by various music styles even today. The dynamic of playing the instrument has changed.

    Also, with over 300 music genres worldwide, you are likely to hear it in different music genres, including jazz, rock, indie, Indian music traditions, classical, pop, and heavy metal. The following piece covers everything from the meaning of the pentatonic scale, different types, how to use it, and how you could use it in composing.

    What does the pentatonic scale mean? 

    A pentatonic scale is a collection from a major scale called the heptatonic scale (penta means 5, while tonic comes from the tone). The major scale contains 7 notes, and the pentatonic scale picked 5 of these scales and ended up creating another scale. Meaning instead of 7, they use 5 scales in an octave.

    The pentatonic and heptatonic scales have the same note interval, although with different roots. To be perfect at playing it, you learn a new root note. Sometimes, you may need good ear training for musicians. You may need to hear chord progression and identify the different types of chodes being played.

    Pentatonic scales make up the backbone for several melodies. They are great for creating hooks that listeners love to remember as it’s soothing music. It’s one of the easiest scales to play. It often sounds good, no matter what order these scales are played. It doesn’t contain semitone internals that might result in dissonance.  It makes it a great tool for guitar solos and improvising.

    When playing the pentatonic scale note, you generate an awesome melody.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the execution of the scale down and up. The pentatonic scales are shortcuts for other scales. You can play a pentatonic scale back and forth, middle to end, front to back, end to beginning, and beginning to middle, making it a cool instrument.

    Different pentatonic scales 

    How many pentatonic scales are there? The pentatonic scales can either be minor or major. The major scale has 5 notes on the major scale, while the minor scale has 5 on the minor scale.

    1. Major Pentatonic Scales

    A major pentatonic scale has five notes, which are the 5th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st degrees of the major scale. It doesn’t contain the 7th or 4th degrees, which are semitones away from the other notes that are in the scale. Like the major scale in the caged system, the pentatonic scale has 5 patterns connected below and above it in the fretboard.

    2. Minor Pentatonic Scales

    Minor pentatonic scales comprise the natural minor scale’s 7th, 5th, 4th, and 1st degrees. It doesn’t contain the scale’s 6th and 2nd degree, the semitone from the other tones in the scale.  It’s one of the most popular scales in blues, rocks, and pop.

    Using pentatonic scales

    Once you memorize the pentatonic scale, it is easier to improvise a song on a major tonality. You won’t have to elaborate on a sentence with a major scale for it to succeed.

    The scale can be used in place of minor natural and major natural scales. Apart from these contexts, this scale can also be used in places where minor and major natural scales can’t be used. For instance, when creating blues. A great example of a pentatonic scale is the black keys on the keyboard or the piano. Play them one after the other to get the melody.

    To be a natural improviser, you should carve away from your daily schedule to perfect your art. Do this for days until you become a pro at it.

    Use of pentatonic scale in composing

    Coming up with a song out of thin air can be challenging. You need to start with the chord progression to create excellent melodies. There needs to be context to your music. The chord gives you the direction of where your music should head to set the tone for the melody. With a chord progression, you can craft notes using the pentatonic scale, which helps avoid problematic dissonance.

    Verses have lower-pitch melodies and hence do well with notes that are lower in the scale, like 1, 2, 3, and 5. For the chorus, opt for higher notes like the 3, 5, 6, or 8 (a 1 up an octave). Once you create something solid, add one or two notes that aren’t in the pentatonic scale to add spice to the music. Do it a few times until you get your song melody.


    All pentatonic scales are excellent for soloing or improvising. You leave the notes that are most likely to create dissonance, which you should only do until you get more control and understanding of your music. Once you gain more experience, you can add dissonance to your music. Dissonance creates tension and makes music more interesting and worth listening to.

    Final touch

    The pentatonic scale is one of the easiest scales to master when you are beginning your musical career.  It’s easy to sound good even with little experience. It can open hundreds of doors and help you start improvising and making your music.


    Add the other notes of the music you left out to what you’ve already learned. Even with it, never be afraid to add a little dissonance. Experiment with the chord progressions. Give yourself a challenge by coming up with new keys while using the pentatonic scale.


    Music writing entails a lot of remixing. There is always room to create your unique combination and develop something excellent. Do the work by practicing regularly. Learning the concepts allows you to better your craft.

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