Now pay attention, this is a theory class, but not too long and boring I promise!
How is it I’m able to play four Minor Pentatonics over a backing track in the key of A Major (an A dominant seventh chord backing to be precise AKA A7), and yet it still sounds great?! Here’s why it works: Minor Pentatonics can be found starting on the second, third, and sixth degrees of the major scale and the dominant chord is always found on the fifth degree of the major scale. So if we work this out from a A7 perspective, A is the fifth note of the D major scale:
Here, the Minor Pentatonics can be found starting on the E, F#, and the B. So you can play E Minor, F# Minor, or B Minor Pentatonic over an A7 chord. An essential ingredient of the blues is the minor third played over a major or dominant chord (a major or dominant chord has a major third). This conflict produces a sound which typifies the blues. Therefore, not only can you play E, F#, and B Minor Pentatonic, but you can also play A Minor Pentatonic, so you actually have a choice of four Minor Pentatonic shapes over one chord!
Those of you who are more advanced may wonder why bother playing four distinct Minor Pentatonics when you could just play the A Mixolydian Mode instead (it contains the same notes, except the A Minor Pentatonic). Well, the Pentatonics are a way of bringing out certain groups of sounds against the chord that you might not necessarily think of if you just used the Mixolydian Mode.
As always, below the YouTube video you’ll find the backing track to play along with, and below that, the tablature. Aren’t I nice?!
Feel free to ask questions or just share your thoughts in the comments!