Dominant Pentatonic Scale

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This is a little tutorial on what I call The Dominant Pentatonic scale. You could also think of it as: The Dominant Skeleton, or maybe the Dominant Shell. Here's a bit of why...

Take a regular A Mixolydian Scale:

A7

E----------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------
D--------------------4--5--7--5--4-------------------------
A----------4--5--7------------------7--5--4----------------
E----5--7-------------------------------------7--5--3--5---

Now take an A Dominant Phrygian Scale:

A7

E---------------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------5--7--5----------------------------
A----------4--5--7--8-----------8--7--5--4----------------
E----5--6-------------------------------------6--5--3--5--

Now take the A Mixolydian b6 Scale:

A7

E--------------------------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------------
G--------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------5--7--5---------------------------
A---------4--5--7--8------------8--7--5--4---------------
E---5--7-------------------------------------7--5--3--5--

Now let's look at everything that common between them and weed out the stuff that isn't common between them - and here's the  scale discussed in this tutorial - The Dominant Pentatonic Scale:

A7

E---------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------
D----------------5--7--5----------------------
A------4--5--7------------7--5--4-------------
E---5--------------------------------5--3--5--

All of those scales are great for Dominant 7 chords. But...

the reason the Dominant Pentatonic scale works so nicely is that it cuts out ALL the clutter/details of each of those other/bigger scales. It's like the Skeleton or the Shell or a Fragment of all those bigger scales...or a Pentatonic of those other scales.

But, this little five note scale can sound like a monster.

If you start this scale on the b7 it will sound like one of the meanest scales. You can almost think of the b7 as the Root, like so:

A7

E---------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------
D-------------------5--7--5-------------------
A---------4--5--7------------7--5--4----------
E---3--5--------------------------------5--3--

It's a common scale that John Mclaughlin used with Shakti and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Try starting on the b7 and ending on the b3, or starting on the b3 and ending on the b7, you'll hear it. Like so...

A7

E-----------------------------|--------------------------
B-----------------------------|--------------------------
G-------------------------6---|---6----------------------
D-------------------5--7------|-----7--5-----------------
A---------4--5--7-------------|-----------7--5--4---------
E---3--5----------------------|---------------------5--3-

Here it is using more of the fretboard:

A7

E------------------------------------------9--10--12--
B----------------------------------8--10--------------
G------------------------6--7--9----------------------
D------------------5--7-------------------------------
A---------4--5--7-------------------------------------
E---3--5----------------------------------------------

A7

E---12--10--9-------------------------------------------
B---------------10--8-----------------------------------
G-----------------------9--7--6-------------------------
D---------------------------------7--5------------------
A---------------------------------------7--5--4---------
E-------------------------------------------------5--3--

Starting with the b7 while playing the Blues gives it a nice lead-in, pickup note if you will, against nice short choppy licks. Try it over All Blues by Miles or Red House by Hendrix, any Blues. Like these little choppy gems:

(~ = add some vibrato on that last note)

A7                     D7                       E7

E-----------------------|------------------------|------------------------
B-----------------------|------------------------|------------------------
G----------6--7--6~-----|-----------11--12--11~--|----------13--14--13~-
D----5--7---------------|--10--12----------------|--12--14----------------
A-----------------------|------------------------|------------------------
E-----------------------|------------------------|------------------------

A repetitive group of six:

A7

E----------------------
B----------------------
G----------------------
D----------------------
A----------4--5--4-----
E----3--5-----------5-- repeat over and over

An Octave higher:

E----------------------
B----------------------
G----------6--7--6-----
D----5--7-----------7-- repeat at the beginning
A----------------------
E----------------------

I use this scale a lot...can you tell I dig it ;)

Have fun!

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