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What in the world is a Pentatonic? And why you need to learn it.

Updated: May 2, 2022

Young Grasshoppers,

I feel sometimes as though I may know you better than you know yourselves. At least when it comes to learning guitar. 😉

Those of you who aren't familiar with Pentatonics are thinking:

"What in the world is a minor pentatonic anyway?"

"Why in the world is it so important?"

"How in the world am I supposed to memorize these?"

Young Grasshoppers, here are your answers (which is slightly ironic, and I'll explain).

If you are improvising, Pentatonics are literally the answers to your questions. When I took lessons as a young guitar apprentice myself, I wondered why these shapes mattered. My wise master explained:

"Let me tell you the worst story in the world. Once upon a time, a young boy lived happily ever after. The End."

He was correct. It was the worst story I had ever heard.

"That's indeed a terrible story," I said. "But how does that relate to the guitar?" "And what in the world is a pentatonic anyway?"

My wise master went over to his record player and put on a track called "The Thrill is Gone" by B.B. King. He explained that if I learn how to play these shapes, then I would have my answers.

"You see," he said, "a musical phrase is sort of like a conversation between old friends. You have questions, and you have answers. Most conversations, at least good ones, will proceed as question, then answer. Question, then answer. A conversation that is all answers is a lousy conversation, and a conversation that is all questions, we call JAZZ!"

At first I was puzzled, but then he placed my hand in the correct starting position, and I began to play over "Thrill is Gone". I was playing with B.B. King! And what's more, it sounded okay! It sounded better than okay, it sounded halfway decent! I was still so young, but I felt like a rockstar of epic proportions, sitting there in that studio den with my instructor. That day my life was changed. I finally had my answers.

"What in the world is a minor pentatonic anyway?"

The 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th note of the scale. Don't lose your cool it gets easier.

"Why in the world is it so important?"

Basically these 5 notes are the key to improvisation and creativity in music.

Guitar Solo city my friends!

"How in the world I am supposed to memorize these?"

I can show you how the 5 positions here are essentially the SAME THING! Huh?

I can't answer all your questions through a blog posting, because I don't know you or what your questions are yet. But I would like to meet you. I can answer all your questions in my private lessons. I have a unique way of giving students Eureka! moments and I would love to help you have the same understanding. Let's chat!

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