Author Topic: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns  (Read 2414 times)

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Offline KasperFauerby

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Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« on: September 01, 2016, 05:11:32 pm »
Hi all,

I want to share with you a really efficient way to get all 5 patterns of the minor pentatonic scale well under your fingers.

Before we begin with the exercise I think it's worth thinking a bit about what the end goal is - the purpose of learning all 5 patterns - and why, if you're anything like me, you might find it hard to properly sort out the different shapes in your head.

As for the end goal; For me personally it's really about being able to play anything I want, moving freely all over the neck. To not be stuck/confined in the "rock cage" (scale shape 1 - the so called rock box). To achieve this goal it is necessary to know the scale shapes so well that if you place a finger anywhere on the fretboard (or at least on the 3 thickest strings) you'll instantly be able to play the minor pentatonic scale from that root note - ideally both above and below the note on the fretboard.

Learning all 5 shapes of the minor pentatonic scale, for example from Justins videos, will allow you to do this - if you know where the root note is in all those patterns.

So what's the problem then?

I guess the standard way of approaching this problem is to start learning the patterns one by one. But I think this leads to a couple of problems.

The first problem is this; by learning and practicing the scale patterns this way you'll always end up practicing (and therefore knowing) pattern 1 a bit better than pattern 2. And later you'll know pattern 1 and 2 a bit better than pattern 3 - and so forth.

The second problem, which I found myself having, is that by focusing on one particular key when practicing - for example A minor pentatonic - what you're really learning is how to link the 5 patterns to each other, going up the neck. If I suddenly were to ask you: "Play pattern 3 - but D minor pentatonic, not A".... then you might get confused. Chances are you actually haven't learned pattern 3 in the general sense, from any root, but are associating it to the key in which you've been practicing it.

I suggest that you apply a "parallel learning" principle instead. One exercise for this approach is called "Pentatonic Modulation", and is based on the idea of simultaneously practicing all 5 minor pentatonic patterns, in 5 different keys!

Let me explain.

Consider the following 5 chord sequence:

Am7 - Cm7 - Dm7 - Em7 - Gm7


Over the Am7 you'll want to play A minor pentatonic, over the Cm7 you play C minor pentatonic... and so forth.

You'll notice that you can play over all those 5 chords, staying entirely within frets 5 to 8 on the guitar.

Over the Am7 chord you'll play scale pattern 1, root on E (Justin numbering)
Over the Cm7 chord you'll play scale pattern 5, root on E
Over the Dm7 chord you'll play scale pattern 4, root on A
Over the Em7 chord you'll play scale pattern 3, root on A
Over the Gm7 chord you'll play scale pattern 2, root on D

By practicing this way you're giving an equal amount of time/focus to each scale pattern - and you'll learn to think of the root notes in each pattern.

It might sound complicated - but I guarantee this will work wonders! After I started doing this exercise it very quickly (like after just 20-30 minutes) just clicked, and I understood each scale pattern perfectly!

If you have a looper pedal I can recommend putting those 5 chords on a loop (start really slowly!) and practice over the loop.

After a short while you'll probably find that you can start not only practicing the scale patterns playing them up and down, but you can actually start improving freely over this quite complicated loop (it's non diatonic, modulating with each chord change)... and even better, you can improvise over it, using the entire fretboard. You'll have really unlocked the entire instrument ;)

Sorry about the length of this post - but I really hope this can help many of you, just as it has helped me!

Cheers,
Kasper

Offline Joerfe

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2016, 07:28:47 pm »
Great exercise, Kasper. I'm up for it as I'd like to solo over chord tones.
/Jesper

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Offline stitch101

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2016, 08:38:47 pm »
Great exercise, Kasper. I'm up for it as I'd like to solo over chord tones.

To add to the exercise every second pass of a scale play the Arpeggio this will help your ear
nail down the chord tone
So over the Am7 play the Am scale then the Am7 arpeggio.

Offline close2u

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2016, 09:08:39 pm »
Great stuff Kaspar.
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Offline Joerfe

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2016, 08:40:17 am »
To add to the exercise every second pass of a scale play the Arpeggio this will help your ear
nail down the chord tone
So over the Am7 play the Am scale then the Am7 arpeggio.

Good one, stitch. I'll try that as well.
/Jesper

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Offline Joerfe

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2016, 09:30:28 pm »
Gave it a spin tonight (sans arpeggios) and it really is a great exercise!
/Jesper

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Me on da Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/jesper-j-rgensen-11

Offline KasperFauerby

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2016, 11:35:42 am »
Glad to hear you found it useful ;)

Now - I didn't want to muddy the waters too much in my original post, but there is one more useful way to extend the exercise.

In the beginning you should do it exactly like I described - at least until you can effortlessly play through the cycle of chords as described. However, you'll want to avoid that you're actually, subconsciously, memorizing the whole sequence as one big pattern.. like you would learn a song.

A good way to do that is to, at random chord changes, switch to a new random scale position for the new chord. And then continue the "cycle" idea from that new location on the neck.

That'll give you an enormous amount of variations, and ensure that whenever the chord changes you are actually doing the thinking: "where is the nearest root note for the new chord, and how can I play on from there".

For example: The Cm7 is coming up, but suddenly instead of playing scale pattern 5, root on E, you drop down on the neck and play it as scale pattern 4, root on A.

From there the cycle continues:

Dm7 - scale pattern 3, root on A
Em7 - scale pattern 2, root on D
and so on...

Or you could have gone to Cm7 using position 1, root on E, for yet another cycle.

Or change pattern at a different chord...

Doing this there is no way you're only memorizing stuff - you'll have to approach this in a thinking way, dealing with each chord change by first finding the nearest appropriate root note, and apply the correct pattern from there...

Take care,
Kasper

Offline Joerfe

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2016, 04:21:59 pm »
Right..... For now I am all set. The bits and pieces of the exercises first part is now settling and it gets easier now to combine the positions with their corresponding chords.
I made a slooooow loop to have time enough to remember which position to change to and at the same time make some room to play in that position before moving to the next.
/Jesper

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Offline Borodog

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2016, 08:00:02 pm »
This looks like a good exercise.

However I have to confess that a lot of the time  I don't really think in terms of the "boxes". I do know what they look like, but I often don't visualize them when I solo. Instead what I see little sections of the scale surronding the root note, and adding these up results in the boxes.
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2016, 12:52:36 am »
Kasper, your idea is good and I'm just mentioning this in the event you haven't thought of it yet or perhaps wanted to keep it simple.

One of the core principals of CAGED is to STACK or use in parallel as you describe while playing the changes. It's really a matter of Relative modal stacking in most songs. Not so in your progression noted, but generally in songs it will be.

When you play open position, or I should say IF you played open position melody over say Bm Em9 Am7 D7 GMaj7... you would have to play various patterns if you wanted to play the changes. Or you could just play Key Of G Scale but you still might not sound totally locked in.

But... that works all the way up the neck. Ideally you want to be in one place on the neck and be able to access the pattern that matches your chord. What I mean is , that's what I am hearing you say you would like to be able to do.

I would suggest you reduce your efforts to simple yet musical I IV V using three shapes. Then perhaps add a chord and thus a shape. Until you have a musical multi-chord progression AND the use of all 5 shapes.

You have the right idea and are on the right track but there is a more musical way and is actually more cohesive in nature such that you will see your Key Chords as a group of patterns in one spot on the neck or any spot on the neck.

Another way to practice that is go up the strings on one chord, come back down the strings on next chord and pattern, then go back up the string on next chord and third pattern, then down the strings on next chord and pattern, etc. Again, this is still done with a legit chord progression that sounds like a song.

You will be training your ear, mind, and eyes all in support of each other. Otherwise you risk that segmented learning you mention.

Ideally, your patterns are going to be modes... for instance if you played A Major, your B pattern would be Dorian , your C Phrygian, etc.. ... But like I say, you can also make a simple progression that works with just the pentatonic if you like.

Ideally you would want to see each pattern with it's scale steps in a modal fashion.


This is a good video to watch... but at 18:48 watch how he stacks the chords and scales up in one place.   You might want to watch that whole video as it shows you what you want to eventually get to and the way it all lines up musically.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojgee6iEJJI



If you want to keep it geared to that pentatonic deal you may want to alter your progression to...

Em7 Am7 Dm7 Gm7 Cm7 as that follows the circle of fifths or fourths whichever you want to call it... but at least it moves musically so your melody work will at least have a comfortable and familiar movement to it regarding the backing harmony.

BTW, if that doesn't make sense to you, consider this. The idea of CAGED is not to be able to link i a linear fashion. It's to have a chord in hand and be able to play -any- scale over it you please.

So your finding that you would somehow be really good at Pattern 1 by nature is sort of born from not playing the patterns in a musical setting.

You can resolve that simply strumming a I vi ii V I backing. Then choosing say the G Pattern for the I, the A pattern for the iv, the D pattern for the ii, The whatever pattern for the remaining.

IOW, write it all out, force yourself to use X Pattern over Y chord for an entire backing track.

In fact you could put the numbers 1 thru 5 in a hat and just draw them out at random.

First draw = first chord
put numbers back in hat and shake.
2nd draw = 2nd chord
return numbers and shake
3rd draw etc..

What this will do is force your brain to associate patterns to chords. Now this won't end you up all in one spot but it's still that association and not some connect another train car type deal.


« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 01:09:07 am by TB-AV »
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Offline Joerfe

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2016, 02:16:47 pm »
This looks like a good exercise.

However I have to confess that a lot of the time  I don't really think in terms of the "boxes". I do know what they look like, but I often don't visualize them when I solo. Instead what I see little sections of the scale surronding the root note, and adding these up results in the boxes.

Borodog, thanks. Your post reminded me that I want to get my intervals working instead of the "boxes" or "positions".
/Jesper

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Offline de_conne

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2016, 04:12:18 pm »
I like the idea very much.

I'm currently not practicing (learning songs) but that idea sounds great and will definitely end up in my practice schedule: "5 mins Kaspers exercise"  ;)

Thx!

regards,
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Offline KasperFauerby

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2016, 07:31:56 am »
Good points TB-AV. Took a few readings of your post to get it all ;)

I agree with you about the benefits of trying to stay musical at all times - that really does accelerate learning. In my case it meant that I quickly stopped practicing the scale patterns, simply going up and down. As soon as I was barely comfortable with them I started "jamming" instead over the 5 chords. Playing small licks and melodies with all 5 patterns. So this was never meant as a muscle memory or speed exercise.. it's a thinking/visualization exercise.

Maybe it's just me, but even though the chord ordering I described doesn't make any sense from a song-writing perspective, after a while they didn't sound that terribly dissonant to my ears. I found it easily possible to jam over them. But I like your suggestion to rearrange the chords to follow the circle better. Will try that for sure!

The "draw a song from a hat" exercise also sounds quite fun. You would stay diatonic, but as you say it would still be possible to follow the changes more closely...

For now I'm planning to stay on the pentatonic shapes for a while. The point is this - I've been looking into a few of the modes, and what I came to realize is that doing it the "stupid" way - just going for memorization - doesn't work for me. There are too many patterns, and learning those doesn't teach me the sound of the mode.

I think I'll have way more success in trying to superimpose/substitute the modal sounds over/into the pentatonic shapes. So Dorian for me is now more about adding the 2nd and 6th to my minor pentatonic shapes, and then target those "signature dorian sounds" as much or little as I wish for a given song.

Cheers,
Kasper

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2016, 01:46:40 am »

For now I'm planning to stay on the pentatonic shapes for a while. The point is this - I've been looking into a few of the modes, and what I came to realize is that doing it the "stupid" way - just going for memorization - doesn't work for me. There are too many patterns, and learning those doesn't teach me the sound of the mode.

Right, I think you generally have the idea. I'm a bit surprised you get that progression to sound musical but I know it can be done.

Re: the modes and "stupid way"  Yes.... DO NOT do that.. or at least do not do that first. You absolutely have to have a drone at minimum and a well thought out progression at best to learn the modes. Doesn't matter if you decide to 'stick the notes on' to what you know, or simply lay a pattern on your music stand so you see where the notes are. THE WHOLE POINT of the modal learning is to HEAR the mode. So you are on the right track there.

About your pentatonics though. You mentioned that you know the "1" of a pattern. You really need to leave that comfort zone. Have you ever used flash cards for learning. You get a quick visual and try to get it to burn in to your memory.

You really, really, really, really, really, need to start seeing these patterns as scale steps. Ideally seeing the 1 3 5 all at once.

I think if you would alter your exercise just a bit you will go so far down the road that it will really surprise you.

How about a compromise? LOL.... Take your chords and make them all Dom7 instead of m7. I would prefer you order them so they cycle but you can use your order if you wish.

Now get your Major Scale patterns instead of your Pentatonics. .. and rather than trying to get the whole pattern just concentrate on the 1 3 5 scale steps. Write it out, draw it, whatever. Just mark all the 1 3 5.

That is going to get you to that place you want to be AND you will have more easy access to your Pentatonic minors as well. I can't easily explain why and it's going to take a couple months for things to start to blend and solidify.

It's almost as though you need to learn any pattern that interests you ... LAST. You need to SEE your chords FIRST.

What you really want to learn are the interesting notes of the chords. that would be 1 3 5 and actually in this case the 7 also.... but even if I had not told you, you would have done that automatically... two frets below the 1 you have your b7.

Back to the flash cards. Rather than 'see' a pattern as ROOT+dots... See the core from which it is made, which is 1 3 5.

Imagine an apple. Now imagine an apple cut in half.
The first you probably imagined a red circle and a stem. On the half apple though you imagined a thicker outer line, the skin, the the core/seeds, and then the stem. The flesh being basically a void. So you had three dark things you would draw on a paper and everyone would say ok, yeah, that's an apple or half apple.

Learn your Major Patterns by the 1 3 5 and 7 if you feel adventurous... That's the half apple. Learn to see it for each of the 5 patterns out of Major.

I can't explain to you why your minor Pent stuff will suddenly be more accessible to you but it will.

You have to sail away from the Root Note as your only guidepost. You can do it by visualizing the Major patterns primary notes 1 3 5. All that modal stuff will make way more sense too.

This will take a couple months and suddenly you will see. You will start to play any note you desire.

Again, I'm not knocking your exercise. I get what you are doing. But that's not necessarily the path to get to where you said you wanted to be.

Maybe you already know this and I'm just missing that fact but it sounds like you are trying to get somewhere and when I hear talking about hanging out on the 1 or making transitions on the 1 AND having difficulty with -too many patterns-.. it tells me they are not seeing the inside of the apple as a single visual. Those elements that make the whole apple what it is.

I think your exercise is good but with a little more effort and tweaking it could work to form a much stronger foundation for you.

The Major Chords are your gateway to the Pentatonics.
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Offline Joerfe

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Re: Exercise for learning all 5 minor pentatonic patterns
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2016, 06:33:25 am »
The combination of Kaspers idea and TB's input has made this thread my absolute favourite! (Even though I really should be focussing on my country rythm).
Thx guys, keep it coming
/Jesper

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Me on da Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/jesper-j-rgensen-11

 

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