Now the fun begins. If you have nailed down the traditional pentatonic scales then these shapes will add an extra exotic flavour to your playing. The dominant pentatonic simply raises the 2nd degree of the regular minor pentatonic to create a really exotic dominant sound.
In this lesson we’re going to look at the basic 2nps dominant pentatonics. Just like the standard pentatonics, there is going to be five different shapes of the dominant pentatonic built from each note of the scale.
I have intentionally not named notes or fretboard positions so that you’re forced to learn to connect these shapes together yourself. When learning scales myself I always found if you’re given fretboard positions your brain defaults to these without thinking. Be free!
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.
- Red Dots are root notes. If you’re unsure what a root note is check out our terminology primer.
- Black Dots are the rest of the pentatonic notes.
Just as your fingers get used to the minor pentatonic finger positions, this scale comes along and throws you off! Take your time to get used to playing the major third and half step intervals. They feel weird at first but it’ll soon become natural. Stick with it!
For note reference if we look at pentatonics in the key of A-minor, a regular pentatonic would have the notes A C D E G in it, however, we know that dominant raises the 2nd degree, in this case the C note becomes C#. It’s still a 5 note scale but we now have the notes A C# D E G.
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!
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