Now the fun begins. If you have nailed down the standard major and minor pentatonic scales then these shapes will add an extra exotic flavour to your playing. The dominant pentatonic simply raises the minor third interval of the regular minor pentatonic to a major third interval to create a really exotic dominant sound.
In this lesson we’re going to look at five positions of the basic two-note-per string dominant pentatonic scales. Just like the standard pentatonic scale, there is going to be five different shapes. All of these will be built from from each note of the scale. If you’re ready to advance your pentatonics then check out this lesson.
Exotic Unconventional Phrasing & Licks
If you throw in some licks using this scale unexpectedly it’s a real head turner and demands your listeners attention. Try translating your regular pentatonic licks into the dominant variants using this scale. A standard pentatonic blues lick can quickly become a much more exciting sound if you choose to use this scale instead.
Intervals: Root, major 3rd, 4th, 5th, minor 7th
Notes: A, C#, D, E, G
We’ll do this in the key of A for reference. Make sure you transpose these shapes into other keys to truly get comfortable with this scale.
Just as your fingers get used to the major & minor pentatonic finger positions, this scale introduces some additional interval shapes. Take your time to get used to playing the major third and minor second intervals within this scale. This feels unnatural at first but once you’ve nailed it down this scale is an awesome addition to your lead playing. Stick with it!
Quick Theory: Dominant Pentatonic Scale
For note reference if we look at pentatonics in the key of A-minor, a regular minor pentatonic would have the notes A C D E and G. With this in mind we know that the dominant pentatonic raises the minor third interval to become a major third. In the key of A the C note now becomes C#. It’s still a 5 note scale but we now have the notes A C# D E G.
Referencing The Major Scale Modes & The Harmonic Minor Modes
Just like the major and minor pentatonic scales, the dominant pentatonic can also be derived from two parent scales. The Mixolydian mode, which is mode 5 of the Major Scale Modes and the Phrygian Dominant mode, which is mode 5 of the Harmonic Minor Modes.
Just knowing how to derive this scale massively opens up the ways in which you can use it. In the context of mixolydian you could use it to create a more funky and unique lead melody, really making use of the major 3rd.
In the context of Phrygian Dominant you could create a really heavy exotic riff section where the dominant pentatonic brings out an interesting and unexpected solo section. Do experiment.
Closing Ideas for the Dominant Pentatonic Scale
Consider some of your most common pentatonic licks that you like to play, now mix it up using the the dominant pentatonics instead over the same backing track. Try switching immediately from a regular pentatonic lick, that the listener might be expecting to then throwing in a dominant pentatonic lick straight after. Notice the difference it has in it’s quality. For even further chromaticism mix your dominant pentatonic licks with the blues scale!
Join The Strings of Rage Syndicate!
Take your guitar playing to the next level. Join the community for exclusive new lessons, ideas and over the top guitar creativity! We look forward to seeing you around!