The major pentatonic scale is derived from the major scale of the same root note. In other words, the A major pentatonic scale is derived from the A major scale. Remember that the word pentatonic means “five tones.” The major pentatonic scale contains the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th tones or notes of the major scale.

Let’s examine this concept on the fretboard.

This particular pattern of the major pentatonic scale is played in 4th position, meaning that the first finger, and the hand in general are aligned with the 4th fret. Pay careful attention to the left-hand fingering outlined below. The appropriate finger is listed beside each note.

Now that you understand the origin of the scale and can play it smoothly, it’s time to play some blues! A common major pentatonic riff is notated below. Notice that this riff is played in eighth notes. The eighth notes are swung or “shuffled,” meaning that the first eighth note in each pair of two eighth notes is held longer than the second note in the pair. Also, notice the staccato indication is marked above beats 1, 2 and 3.

The final step is to apply this riff to the 12 bar blues form. As we learned in the last lesson article, the 12 bar form is the most common song form in all of blues. Notice how the riff is transposed for each of the chord changes within the 12 bar blues form just like the minor pentatonic riff discussed last time.