Pentatonic Scales

A look at pentatonic scales
Construction, types and misconceptions


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Scales and Modes - Part #3
Pentatonic Scales


What are pentatonic scales? How are they constructed? What makes them different than major and minor scales? Why are they the most common scale used in the world?

In this article we're going to take a closer look at these very popular scales and explain them in an easy to understand nonacademic way.

Scales are one of the most important building blocks of music. Notes from scales, combined with rhythm, form the basis of melodies. A haunting, solo melody can be a rich and rewarding musical expression. Therefore a basic knowledge of scales is beneficial to anyone that wishes to make music, especially if they are creating their own tunes or just improvising ("playing from the heart").

In the two previous articles we looked at diatonic major and minor scales and then the diatonic modes respectively. A good understanding of these principles will help you with the subject of this post exploring pentatonic scales. You might want to review them before diving into this article.

For anyone that plays the Native American flute the term pentatonic scale becomes a constant refrain in almost all conversations about this instrument. Yet very few people know very much beyond the fact that Pent is Greek for five. Even though this is the limit of most people's knowledge, somehow a lot of misinformation and incorrect terminology gets passed from player to player, maker to player, maker to maker and player to maker. This misinformation is completely invalid outside of the Native American flute world and for that matter is barely valid for the NAF. As if the Native American Flute world is it's own little bubble, which it's not.

If you want to be taken seriously by other musicians, and have the Native American flute taken seriously as well, it's essential to be able to discuss music at a basic level using the correct terms that are recognized by the larger musical world. Likewise it's also good to avoid using terms that are not recognized by musicians, composers and music theorists.

In this post we're going to look at the most common pentatonic scales, the names they are known by and how they are constructed. At the end of the post we'll talk about some of the incorrect terms and names given to them so you can avoid falling into the trap so many NAF players have fallen into.

THE HEART OF MUSIC
In many ways pentatonic scales lie at the heart of western music and the music of many other cultures. Pentatonic scales form the basis of other more complex scales. Yet in their simplicity lies an ease of use, a grace of sound and a unique balance of pitches. The most common pentatonic scales lack any sonic or harmonic tension which gives them a relaxing, easy going sound that fits into many musical styles. In western music alone pentatonic scales are commonly found in folk, blues, rock, soul, pop, and jazz. They can be found in Celtic and Hungarian folk music. Outside of western cultures pentatonic scales are ubiquitous in music from Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia and Africa. In short pentatonic scales are the most common scales in use throughout the world.

Read the full article Here

© Cedar Mesa Music.

 

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES
NEW Scales and Modes Part 1
NEW Scales and Modes Part 2

How to Buy a NAF, part 1
How to Buy a NAF, part 2
How to care for your NAF
Playing your first NAF scale
Strengthening your Fingers
Playing from the Heart Part-1
Playing from the Heart Part-2
Recording your NAF, basic, easy Home Studio set up
Starting your Own Music Label part 1

You can find an index of all the articles including maker and flute profiles HERE

You can also find a list of makers who's flutes I play on my web site.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN FLUTE
NAF History and Construction

Please support these articles with your purchases
Native American flute music by Scott August
Sacred Dreams
Native American flute music by Scott August
Ancient Light
Lost Canyons
Lost Canyons
DISTANT SPIRITS
SACRED DREAMS
NEW FIRE
ANCIENT LIGHT
LOST CANYONS
RADIANT SKY
BUY NOW!
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Kokopelli's Flute: The Complete Guide to the Anasazi Flute

KOKOPELII'S FLUTE: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE ANASAZI FLUTE
Until now finding information about how to play the Anasazi flute has proven to be almost as difficult as learning to play one. Very little information exists. Virtuoso Anasazi flute performer Scott August guides you through all the aspects of mastering this marvelous instrument and giving you a head start to begin playing like a pro! Learn how to produce your first sounds, discover its many scales, and explore techniques to quickly improve your playing while learning the fascinating history of this captivating instrument and its first virtuoso, Kokopelli.

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© 2008 Cedar Mesa Music. All rights reserved.


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