The Theory Behind The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The pentatonic scales are some of the most commonly used guitar scales in Western music. Unlike the other guitar scales these scales only have five notes in an octave. The word penta means five, like a pentagon is a five sided shape.

What Notes Are In The Scale?

The minor pentatonic scale has the same notes as the minor scale, but it is missing the second and sixth interval.

C Minor Scale

CD Eb FG Ab Bb C

C Minor Pentatonic Scale

C Eb FG Bb C

As you can see in the C minor pentatonic scale the D and the Ab are missing. So, the notes in the C minor pentatonic scale are C, Eb, F, G, Bb, C.

The Formula

For every scale there is an interval formula you can use to work out the notes in that scale. In this formula T stands for tone and S stands for semi-tone. A tone is two steps or two frets on your guitar and semi-tone is one step or one fret on your guitar.

In this formula some of the puzzles and a tone and semi-tone. These intervals would be three steps or three frets on your guitar.

Do not worry if this does not make sense to you. I will use this formula to find the notes in the C minor pentatonic scale to demonstrate its use.

C Minor Pentatonic Scale

In the example below the notes of the scale are in bold and the intervals are not.

C t + s Eb t F t G t + s Bb t C

I will go through each step to show you how I found the notes of this scale.

You start on C and move up a tone and semi-tone and you get Eb

From Eb you move up a tone and you get F

From F you move up a tone and you get G

From G you move up a tone and a semi-tone and you get Bb

From Bb you move up a tone and you get C

This is how you can use this formula to work out the notes of any minor pentatonic scale.

Quick Tip

The first note and last note of any scale are always the same. If your last note is not the same as the first you have made a mistake somewhere.

Give it a go. If you need help leave a comment, I will always reply.

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