Matt had written a great blog post before called How to Create Melodic Guitar Solos, where he shows how to build scales from triads, as opposed to the popular 3NPS positions and CAGED positions. In this blog, I wanted to add to this idea by showing another skeleton we can build scales off of that almost every player knows how to already use: the pentatonic scale.
To combat this, I show my students that all 7 of the Major scale modes are actually just either the minor or major pentatonic shapes with a few extra notes added. Let’s take a look at a G Dorian Scale to demonstrate this. But first, let’s just look at a normal minor pentatonic scale in the key of G.
Really, you’re only adding two notes, but those two notes just show up in different octaves. This remains true for every shape we’ll look at.
You can make two other modes off of the minor pentatonic shape.
What he meant was that you shouldn’t be playing in minor pentatonic, and then all of a sudden you flip a switch and go into “Dorian mode” which is a completely separate entity. You should blend the two ideas of playing together, slowly.
For example, try taking a go-to minor pentatonic lick of yours, and rather than ending on the note you normally do, find one of the notes that we added to the skeleton. Maybe in one of your quick minor pentatonic runs just add some of those modal notes. You’ll be surprised at the new colors your solos will have.
This is a simple idea, but can be a very powerful one for people trying to get their feet wet with some modal tonality.
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Mike Lowden has been playing the guitar for as long as he can remember, and enjoys playing every type of music that he can get his hands on. Mike has education from the Berklee College of Music, and studied Jazz at the University of Akron. Now the guitar instructor and co-owner of Falls Music School, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, his mission is not only to teach music students at the school, but also through online content. Feel free to contact Mike here.