Continuing his exclusive series Shaun Baxter shows how you can extract a range of different Pentatonic scales from one Mixolydian scale.
Shaun Baxter investigates how to create modal Pentatonic scales from within Mixolydian.
Recently, we have been exploring various ways of using Mixolydian mode (1-2-3-4-5-6-b7) over a dominant chord (1-3-5-b7). So far, we have extracted a range of different ‘devices’ and flavours: • Triads (three-note entities) • Arpeggios (four-note entities) • Pentatonic scales (five-note entities) Each concept provides a different mental and aural perspective, leading you to play different musical ideas each time.
In terms of Pentatonic (five-note) scales, we have looked at the following: Major Pentatonic: 1-2-3-4-6
1-2-3-5-b7 Dominant Pentatonic:
1-3-4-5-b7 Indian pentatonic: And also some alternatives from an eight-note hybrid Mixolydian where a bluesy minor 3rd (shown as #2 because there’s already a major
1-2-#2-3-4-5-6-b7): 3rd in the scale) is added:
1-b3-4-5-b7 Minor Pentatonic:
1-#2-3-5-b7 7#9 Pentatonic: 6#9 Pentatonic: 1-#2-3-5-6
1-b3-4-5-6 m6 Pentatonic:
Each of the Pentatonic scales shown above is from the root of the parent A scale; however, in this lesson we are going to look at ways of establishing Pentatonic scales that stem from notes of A Mixolydian other than the root.
A Mixolydian is the fifth mode in the key of D. Although the musical centre of gravity is A(7) when using A Mixolydian over our A7th chord vamp, we can still utilise the different perspectives that the modes of D Major offer us in order to get different musical effects. So here we are going to use each note of our Mixolydian as the potential root of another Pentatonic scale, by playing the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th notes of each mode
So, now we have ended up with seven different Pentatonic scales that can be used over our A dominant 7th chord vamp, because each is derived from notes within A Mixolydian.
If you look at Table 1, you will see some familiar scales: namely, the Minor Pentatonics (that stem from selecting the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th notes of E Dorian, F# Phrygian and B Aeolian) and the Indian Pentatonic (that stems from selecting the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th notes of A Mixolydian). However, you will also notice some less familiar ones stemming from the D, G and C# notes, and we are going to be incorporating these fresh sounds into our musical examples for this lesson.
Diagram #1 shows the root position (CAGED shape #1) of each Pentatonic scale. You should also map out the notes of each of these scales on the neck and then isolate each of the different two-notes-per-string shapes
we have ended up with five different pentatonic scales that can be used over our dominant vamp
so that you can establish the other CAGED shapes for each scale, and start experimenting with ideas using those shapes too. Your aim should be to start developing your own personal repertoire of licks and lines in each shape, so that you have more ammunition to work with when improvising. Not all of these sounds will appeal, or be appropriate to your style, so choose those work for you first and come back to the others at your leisure.
Finally, note that the backing track for the musical examples is very slow (60bpm); so don’t be put off by the sight of so many 32nd-notes in the transcriptions, as, speedwise, they are equivalent to 16th-notes at 120bpm. Have fun!