Matt Brown Matt B.
Posted December 13th
The minor pentatonic scale is one of the easiest scales for beginners to learn and memorize on the guitar. It's also one of the most commonly used scales in almost all musical styles, and this is especially true of blues music. The vast majority of blues riffs and melodic content in the blues style are derived from the minor and major pentatonic scales. For these reasons, it's important to learn and memorize the minor pentatonic scale as soon as possible. Once the scale is memorized, a beginning guitarist will then be able to begin mastering some of the most frequently used riffs and melodic ideas played in the blues style.
Let's begin by learning the minor pentatonic scale. 'Pentatonic' means 'five tones.' In other words, the scale consists of five notes. A two-octave version of the A minor pentatonic scale is written below. The notes A, C, D, E, and G comprise this scale. Once 'G' is reached, the scale begins again in a higher octave with the note 'A.'
Once you can play through the scale comfortably, it's time to play some blues! A common “box pattern" riff is notated below. Notice that this riff is played in eighth notes. Also, eighth notes are swung or “shuffled," meaning that the first eighth note in each pair is held longer than the second note in the pair.
The final step is to apply this riff to the 12-bar blues form. 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. For example, when the chord progression changes from A7 to D7 in bar 5, the riff shifts up to the next set of strings and begins on the note 'D.' Once you've mastered the 12-bar form below, you'll be ready to jam with other blues musicians!
Once you've mastered the 12-bar form, you'll be ready to jam with other blues musicians!