Here’s the first in a new series of mini lessons I’ve created for my website and social media pages; in this one I’m looking at the Dominant b2 #5 pentatonic scale.
Most rock guitarists learn the minor and major pentatonic scales early in their experience on the guitar and never really explore any further. This is a shame in my opinion as there are countless other useful pentatonic scales to get under your fingers. They’re a great example of the importance of the notes you don’t play, as their reduced size can create focused tonalities and unique harmonic flavours through the omission of selected diatonic pitches.
Pentatonic scales can be considered as either abbreviations of larger diatonic scales or as standalone entities, the Dominant pentatonic family this scale is a part of is best thought of as the latter. Dominant pentatonics usually feature the interval structure R, 2, 3, 5, b7 with the 2 and 5 open to alterations.
Dominant Pentatonic b2 #5 scale is exactly as it sounds; R, b2, 3, #5, b7. Being one of the most altered dominant pentatonic options harmonically this scale sounds super dark; I really enjoy the contrast of the b2 and #5 with the bright sounding major 3rd.
It’s worth noting that although I played the matching 7alt chord on the backing track, all altered dominant Pentatonics are interchangeable and can be played regardless of the alterations (or lack of) chosen by the accompanist. As long as it’s a dominant tonality any of the different scales can be applied at the discretion of the soloist and each creates its own unique musical flavour; experimentation and experience will lead you to find your own favourites.
If you’d like to hear a player who’s absolutely mastered introducing these unusual sounds into a traditional musical context, try listening to any of Scott Henderson’s blues albums; ‘Well To The Bone’ is my personal favourite.
The example lick I’ve written is quite athletic, requiring a lot of position shifts. If you try it out upload a video and tag me, I’d love to hear you play it!
Check out more lesson samples here: Free Guitar Lessons