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Pentatonic Options Over Modal Chord Progressions

By Mike Ridenour

Here are two easy ways to find some pentatonic scale options for your modal chord progressions.

Option 1

If you have a major related mode (Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian) you can play the major pentatonic scale that shares the same root note as the mode you are playing. For example, G major pentatonic over a G Lydian chord progression. You can do this since the scale degrees that make up the major pentatonic scale (1, 2, 3, 5, 6) are not altered in any of these major related modes. If you have a minor related mode (Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian) you can play the minor pentatonic scale that shares the same root note as the mode you are playing. For example, E minor pentatonic over an E Phrygian chord progression. You can do this since the scale degrees that make up the minor pentatonic scale (1, b3, 4, 5, b7) are not altered in any of these minor related modes.

Option 2

Step 1:
Find the major home scale/key of the mode you are playing in. If you were playing over a modal chord progression using the E Lydian mode then the major home scale/key of E Lydian would be B major. E Lydian is based on the fourth scale degree of B Major.

Step 2:
Find the relative minor key of the major home scale/key. In this case, the relative minor key of B Major is G# minor. The relative minor key is always based on the sixth scale degree of your major home scale/key.

Step 3:
Play the minor pentatonic scale based on the relative minor key of your major home
scale/key. In this case, you would play a G# minor pentatonic over an E Lydian chord
progression. You can also play the 1st position major pentatonic shape (2nd position
minor shape) of the major home scale/key over the same modal progression. In this case
the major pentatonic shape would be a B Major pentatonic over an E Lydian chord
progression.

Have Fun experimenting with these pentatonic options!!!

 


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