Follow us on...
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Watch us on YouTube
Register
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Question:

  1. #1
    Unchained Mister T.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    01.17.08
    Posts
    539
    Last Online

    12.11.17 @ 04:39 PM
    Likes
    0
    Liked 27 Times in 17 Posts

    Default Question:

    Why does a minor pentatonic work over either major or minor chords, yet the major pent only works over major chords?

    I cannot find a theoretical reason other than our Western ears culturally accept it.

    You're thoughts?

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
    Join Date
    01.10.05
    Age
    47
    Location
    Kate Upton's Closet
    Posts
    37,849
    Favorite VH Album

    Alex, Dave, Ed and Mike
    Favorite VH Song

    The songs with Ed on them
    Last Online

    12.12.17 @ 06:18 AM
    Likes
    3,497
    Liked 18,093 Times in 8,939 Posts

    Default

    Wow, I haven't thought about music theory in a while, but to me it is just one of those things that just "is", move on and accept it.

    Haven't really thought about, but it would be good to know.

    One thing I do remember is that if you are playing the minor pentatonic over a major chord progression, the second interval sounds wrong.

    Of course, much more capable players than myself in here will I am sure inform me of how wrong I am!
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

    DONATE TO THE LINKS YA CHEAP BASTARDS!!!!

  3. #3
    Forum Frontman
    Join Date
    09.15.06
    Age
    42
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    6,568
    Last Online

    07.04.16 @ 08:03 PM
    Likes
    3
    Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts

    Default

    That's a big question if you don't know much theory. The short answer is: Both major and minor pentatonic work over chords that are diatonic to their respective key signatures.

    What I think you're actually asking is related to what I call "blues forgiveness." We use minor pentatonic or blues scales over blues progressions that are either based out of major or minor chords, and to our ears both sound fine. If you're playing a I-IV-V chord progression using either major triads, minor triads, dominant 7 chords, or minor 7 chords, minor pentatonic or blues scales will just about always sound "right" to our ears. Technically, though, there are some notes that bump up against one another in dissonant fashion. The tension we hear from those notes is "blues forgiveness." We're used to that tension and even like it most of the time. The reverse situation does not offer the same forgiveness; playing an A major pentatonic against an A minor blues progression will sound most definitely "wrong" to us. And that is how it is.

    Blues is the foundation of everything we've known in popular music for the past 100-plus years. All the jazz and rock genres were born from it. In that sense it is ingrained in Western popular culture (and beyond). We've been hearing it since we were in the womb.

  4. #4
    Emperor of VHLinks.com Brett's Avatar
    Join Date
    09.02.99
    Age
    46
    Location
    Somewhere Near LA
    Posts
    68,690
    Favorite VH Album

    Fair Warning
    Favorite VH Song

    Unchained
    Last Online

    12.12.17 @ 01:24 AM
    Likes
    1,263
    Liked 11,544 Times in 4,918 Posts

    Default

    One sounds normal to our ears and one just doesn't.
    Webmaster
    VHLinks.com - Your Van Halen Internet Resource Guide
    http://www.vhlinks.com

    JamToThis.com
    Audio/Video Trading Community
    Tons of Van Halen!

  5. #5
    Eruption Casemeister's Avatar
    Join Date
    04.18.03
    Age
    30
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    1,285
    Favorite VH Album

    VH, VH2, FW, ADKOT
    Favorite VH Song

    Big River, Little Guitars
    Last Online

    03.22.17 @ 07:01 AM
    Likes
    12
    Liked 120 Times in 49 Posts

    Default

    Heh. I've never actually really thought about this much before. As others have said, I've just accepted it.

    From time to time, especially in rock, we come across things that shouldn't be... but are. There are times when I'll be teaching a student something and have to say, "This will make no sense to you at first. It made no sense to me. But stick with me here," or something. Music theory, in a traditional sense, can make many concepts easier to grasp, but there are times when it can make really simple concepts seem more complex than they are. I love the look on a student's face when something like that "clicks," and they give the, "Oh, that's easy!" response. It takes me back to when I was learning to play; the sheer joy of finally making sense of what was previously a mystery was pretty unbeatable.
    Waylon Jennings: 1937-2002.
    "There ain't nothin' quite as sad as watching your heroes die."

    RIP, Hoss!

  6. #6
    Eruption donkost's Avatar
    Join Date
    03.28.08
    Age
    54
    Location
    Eastern PA
    Posts
    1,350
    Last Online

    12.10.17 @ 08:16 PM
    Likes
    174
    Liked 93 Times in 37 Posts

    Default

    Great initial question, and such a highbrow discussion in the vhlinks guitar room. So there are the technical and non-technical responses. I like that term "blues forgiveness", never really had a good way to express that concept. I had years of "proper training" long ago and used to be able to sight read sheet music put down in front of me- doubt I could do it any longer. So my ears are always hearing these sorts of things and analyzing them. Like when you hear a big bend that has some air time and it passes through several half steps along the way. Your ear thinks "this isn't right" but once the passage has completed you think it sounded great with the backing music.

  7. #7
    Unchained Mister T.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    01.17.08
    Posts
    539
    Last Online

    12.11.17 @ 04:39 PM
    Likes
    0
    Liked 27 Times in 17 Posts

    Default

    Just so you know - I too have had formal training for a good number of years as well.

    I'm still leaning towards my though in my initial post, that being: our Western ears culturally accept it.

  8. #8
    Eruption donkost's Avatar
    Join Date
    03.28.08
    Age
    54
    Location
    Eastern PA
    Posts
    1,350
    Last Online

    12.10.17 @ 08:16 PM
    Likes
    174
    Liked 93 Times in 37 Posts

    Default

    Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. You just need to find someone from the Far East who has never heard any western music and get their reaction to major pentatonic played over minor chords.

  9. #9
    Sinner's Swing!
    Join Date
    11.26.10
    Age
    46
    Posts
    3,353
    Last Online

    11.25.17 @ 09:06 AM
    Likes
    1,679
    Liked 1,374 Times in 803 Posts

    Default

    I never got into the taught theory really, and I mean I studied it obviously when I was young, but frankly, I was exposed to so much music of different genres, from rock, gospel, big band, classical, jazz and found out for myself that they all pretty much had predictable progressions from one to the next, so in the early days when I was learning scales, some of them that I was told are in theory to work together just didn't sound right or pleasing to my ear.
    This is kind of what chamber music is based on, but I just find it personally jarring to listen to.
    I got a lot of shit from teachers, but when I was told to compose a progression, it would just be something that I found to be right to my ear.
    They would say "that's very good!" but then when I was asked to explain how the composition was structured, they'd be pissed at me because I didn't really study or work out the scales to get there.
    I still write that way. I nooodle for a bit, then mix things up, and sometimes you get the beginnings of a riff or lick, and then I flesh it out with full chords, arpeggios.....
    Guess that's why I associated with Ed because he was just as impatient as me and did it by ear more than anything.
    I know it's not an answer to your question, but in essence I agree with you. I think your ear is just your best guide rather than following a set rule. Also keep in mind that standard concert pitch tuning has changed quite substantially since much of the theory was first devised. That is part of the issue.
    I remember seeing a documentary years ago with YoYo Ma where he and a musical sciences professor put together an orchestral arrangement based on the "standard" tuning from long ago(I can't remember what era), and they found that when applied, some scales worked better than they do today.
    Last edited by we die young; 11.30.11 at 01:23 PM.

  10. #10
    Top Of The World
    Join Date
    07.01.11
    Location
    Pittsburgh
    Posts
    140
    Last Online

    02.25.13 @ 07:23 AM
    Likes
    0
    Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister T. View Post
    Why does a minor pentatonic work over either major or minor chords, yet the major pent only works over major chords?

    I cannot find a theoretical reason other than our Western ears culturally accept it.

    You're thoughts?
    The theory-based reason minor pentatonic works over a major chord can be found by analyzing the scale's notes as they relate to the chord. I'll use C major as the chord to keep it as simple as possible.

    Cm pentatonic = 1 m3 4 5 m7 = C Eb F G Bb. The C and G are members of the C triad (root and fifth). The Bb is the 'dominant' 7, thus implying a C7 chord. Dominant 7th chords are inherently dissonant; the tension is built-in, so adding more on top of it isn't the train wreck one might expect it to be.

    The minor 3rd, Eb, is the 'blue note' of C major; that is, it's the color tone of the C major blues scale (yes, there's a major blues!). Ordinarily it would be followed by the major 3rd (E), but if you're sticking to pure pentatonic, you leave that one out (it's in the chord anyway). So the minor third, though a temporary dissonance, can still sound perfectly fine. This isn't always the case, so context and application do matter here.

    The really BAD note is the 4 (F), which clashes with the E in the chord no matter how you slice it, even though it's in key. This is the so-called 'avoid tone' in this situation; you can still use it, but more in passing. Leaning on it will sound terrible. This also holds true when using the C major scale (diatonic) over a C chord; the 4th does not agree with the 3rd.

    So, to sum it up, using Cm pent over a C major chord implies a C7 harmony AND the C major blues scale, both of which are normal and acceptable sounds, either separately or simultaneously.
    Last edited by Nonpassable CD; 12.03.11 at 03:44 PM.

  11. #11
    Unchained Mister T.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    01.17.08
    Posts
    539
    Last Online

    12.11.17 @ 04:39 PM
    Likes
    0
    Liked 27 Times in 17 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nonpassable CD View Post
    The theory-based reason minor pentatonic works over a major chord can be found by analyzing the scale's notes as they relate to the chord. I'll use C major as the chord to keep it as simple as possible.

    Cm pentatonic = 1 m3 4 5 m7 = C Eb F G Bb. The C and G are members of the C triad (root and fifth). The Bb is the 'dominant' 7, thus implying a C7 chord. Dominant 7th chords are inherently dissonant; the tension is built-in, so adding more on top of it isn't the train wreck one might expect it to be.

    The minor 3rd, Eb, is the 'blue note' of C major; that is, it's the color tone of the C major blues scale (yes, there's a major blues!). Ordinarily it would be followed by the major 3rd (E), but if you're sticking to pure pentatonic, you leave that one out (it's in the chord anyway). So the minor third, though a temporary dissonance, can still sound perfectly fine. This isn't always the case, so context and application do matter here.

    The really BAD note is the 4 (F), which clashes with the E in the chord no matter how you slice it, even though it's in key. This is the so-called 'avoid tone' in this situation; you can still use it, but more in passing. Leaning on it will sound terrible. This also holds true when using the C major scale (diatonic) over a C chord; the 4th does not agree with the 3rd.

    So, to sum it up, using Cm pent over a C major chord implies a C7 harmony AND the C major blues scale, both of which are normal and acceptable sounds, either separately or simultaneously.
    And the reason a Major Pent does not work over a minor chord?

  12. #12
    Top Of The World
    Join Date
    07.01.11
    Location
    Pittsburgh
    Posts
    140
    Last Online

    02.25.13 @ 07:23 AM
    Likes
    0
    Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister T. View Post
    And the reason a Major Pent does not work over a minor chord?
    Analyze it the same way! I'll use Am for simplicity.

    Am = A C E.
    A major pent = A B C# E F# (1 2 3 5 6)

    Again, the 1 and 5 (A and E) are common tones and are fine.

    The m3 (C) in the chord causes two problems. 1) It's a half step away from TWO notes in the scale (B and C#), so they clash badly. 2) There's the battle of major vs minor 3rds, and the harmony ALWAYS wins out, leaving a marked wrong note in the melody. Since a minor key's blue note is the diminished 5, the minor/major 3rd combination from major blues does not apply here.

    The 6, F#, is not a chord tone, and it's only partially in key (it's in the A melodic minor scale), so its acceptability depends on context. It can work just fine, and it can also be a real clam.

    So, the biggest problem with major over minor is that pesky 3rd; the melodic one needs to agree with the harmonic one (chords are structural, which is why the underlying harmony takes precedence). Without that, you've got serious confusion. Throw in the 2 (B) and you've added another semitone dissonance to what is already a mess!

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. red,black,white stripe question and peavey question
    By lardo5150 in forum Guitar Room
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 05.14.09, 08:25 AM
  2. A question
    By mhnyr2000 in forum Bootleg Network
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11.06.02, 10:11 AM
  3. Amp Question
    By geo2275 in forum Guitar Room
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10.16.02, 11:30 AM
  4. A question ???
    By Jati in forum Main VH Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01.29.02, 01:14 AM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •