Jazz Workshop - Pentatonic Scales, a quick way to improvise!
Pentatonic scales are great, they mean you can start improvising immediately!
What is a pentatonic scale? Its a 5 note scale and is one of the most useful in music, not just jazz.
Where do you find one? Go to a keyboard and just play the black notes - you are playing a pentatonic scale. If you start on Gb, thats the one to the left of the three black notes, and play upward from there, you will be playing the Gb major pentatonic.
Play it high on the keyboard, does it sound Chinese? No accident, because a lot of Chinese music is based on the pentatonic scale.
Start now from Eb, thats the note to the right of the set of two black notes. You're now playing the Eb minor pentatonic scale. Does it sound Scottish? No accident again, a lot of Celtic music is based on the pentatonic scale.
You will, after a bit of experimentation, find 11 more pentatonic scales on the keyboard, each one starting on one of the 12 different notes you have on all western instruments.
The interesting thing is, if you add one note to the minor pentatonic scale to make it a six note scale, you have the blues scale - one of the fundamental scales that jazzers use to improvise. The note you have to add to the Eb Minor pentatonic scale is an A - (see if you can find it on the keyboard).
In fact, if you have the chords playing of the Eb minor blues (a subject of another post) you will be improvising by just playing the black notes of the piano, how about that!
Why are the black notes a pentatonic scale? A very good question and not one easy to answer, but by using them you will have great fun! Come on a jazz workshop and all will be explained, and great opportunities will be had to practice improvising, or 'soloing' jazz!