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Jul 6, 2020 - 2:57:04 PM
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RB3

USA

736 posts since 4/12/2004

When I read the Washington Post or The New York Times, I'm bombarded with ads that warn against learning Pentatonic scales on guitar. I see the same thing on YouTube. Do these warnings also apply to the banjo?

I believe that the pentagram is typically associated with the occult. Could it be that pentatonic scales are something that's been cooked up by witches and wiccans? I know that a lot of the folks on BHO who are conversant in music theory strongly advocate learning to use pentatonic scales. Are they the agents of the Devil?

Edited by - RB3 on 07/06/2020 17:55:12

Jul 6, 2020 - 3:24:43 PM
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3194 posts since 5/29/2011

Well, the banjo is the instrument of the devil. No, let's see, that would be the fiddle. It depends on which Baptist you talk to.

Jul 6, 2020 - 3:38:50 PM
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91 posts since 4/8/2019

From my point of view, the only reason to discourage a student from focusing on pentatonic scales is because far too many lock into a narrow palette of sound that may be OK for blues and simplistic R&R soloing, but that's about it. It's true that quite a few scary old-time tunes are based on a pentatonic scale, and knowing these scale forms may be useful for understanding where the notes are found on the fingerboard, or for learning to improvise on these tunes. But from my very first recording session with professional geezer, Dallas McKinnon, I was pegged as a "melody man."

Historically, pentatonic patterns were not banned from music because of bad associations. The augmented fourth (or diminished fifth), also known as the tritone, was in fact discouraged because it was jarring and uncomfortable, particularly in the context of sacred music. The tritone was known as "Diabolus in musica." Think the opening chords in "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix.

I encourage students to learn harmonic scales, mainly working out of the books by George Van Eps. This path allows the student to incorporate "blue" notes intelligently within a broad harmonic framework, rather than twiddling the fingers over a restrictive and unimaginative pentatonic pattern.

RA

Jul 6, 2020 - 3:50:49 PM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

24646 posts since 8/3/2003

The pentatonic scale will help you with melody notes, as most (not all) melody notes are located within those 5 notes. The 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6th notes of a scale are typically the basic notes of melody with the other notes 4 and 7, as color.

When I started learning to make my own arrangements, I leaned heavily on the pentatonic notes to get the basic melody and then filled in with various rolls, slides, hammers, pulls, licks, etc. Worked for me.

Jul 6, 2020 - 3:57:54 PM

13119 posts since 10/30/2008

Bluegrass fiddle instructors teach the pentatonic scale in order to learn some standard bluegrass "blues" licks.

Jul 6, 2020 - 5:01:47 PM
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3386 posts since 7/12/2006

Pat Clouds Key to the 5 Strying banjo deals exclusively with pentatonic scales. Just listen to a descending pentatonic scale. It sounds like a gentle waterfall. Nothing evil there.

Jul 6, 2020 - 8:21:45 PM
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101 posts since 3/10/2020

Just adding something. I'm no expert so don't quote me on this one. I'm willing to bet there's a good number of religious songs that use pentatonic scales.

Jul 7, 2020 - 1:28:40 AM
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347 posts since 5/29/2015

Satan takes many forms.

Jul 7, 2020 - 6:18:07 AM
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chief3

Canada

1105 posts since 10/26/2003

It has much less to do about the tools and more to do about the artistic ability to use them.

Jul 7, 2020 - 7:42:50 AM

1959 posts since 2/10/2013

I really like the minor pentatonic scale and practice using it all the time. The major pentatonic scale is a different story. I understand which notes should be used in the major pentatonic scale. I also understand why the 4th and 7th notes are not used. Eliminating those two notes (i.e. 4th and 7th) reduces the likelihood of having dissonance. So if someone jams, and improvises "off the top of their head", I can understand why a player would use the major pentatonic scale. The drawback to using the major pentatonic scale is the fact that the melody becomes less identifiable.

There is only one note difference between the minor pentatonic scale and the blues scale.
Geoff Hohwald has an instructional on pentatonic scales. In actuality, it only teaches the minor pentatonic scale. Learning some of the minor pentatonic scale licks is easy, the benefits far outweigh the amount of effort it takes to learn them. You can use them to create a "bluesy" feel. Do you like the tune "Man of Constant Sorrow" or "Pretty Polly" ? If you do, you should learn more about minor pentatonic licks.  Using one of the minor pentatonic licks can really "catch" a listener's ear.

Edited by - Richard Hauser on 07/07/2020 07:44:31

Jul 7, 2020 - 7:56:01 AM

5412 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by EulalieBlue

From my point of view, the only reason to discourage a student from focusing on pentatonic scales is because far too many lock into a narrow palette of sound that may be OK for blues and simplistic R&R soloing, but that's about it. It's true that quite a few scary old-time tunes are based on a pentatonic scale, and knowing these scale forms may be useful for understanding where the notes are found on the fingerboard, or for learning to improvise on these tunes. But from my very first recording session with professional geezer, Dallas McKinnon, I was pegged as a "melody man."

Historically, pentatonic patterns were not banned from music because of bad associations. The augmented fourth (or diminished fifth), also known as the tritone, was in fact discouraged because it was jarring and uncomfortable, particularly in the context of sacred music. The tritone was known as "Diabolus in musica." Think the opening chords in "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix.

I encourage students to learn harmonic scales, mainly working out of the books by George Van Eps. This path allows the student to incorporate "blue" notes intelligently within a broad harmonic framework, rather than twiddling the fingers over a restrictive and unimaginative pentatonic pattern.

RA


Just curious, why would you recommend guitar books when there are countless books specifically for the 5 string banjo that teach solid, notation based, theory?

Two of my favorites include "Mel Bay's Banjo Method, Concert Style," by Frank C. Bradbury.  "Modern Method for the Banjo" by Frank C. Bradbury.  But there are stacks others.

Just make sure they are in "Universal Notation" or "C Notation", or were printed in England.

https://classic-banjo.ning.com/page/tutor-books

https://archive.org/details/@joel_hooks

For the advanced student looking for exercises I recommend "Tuition in Banjo Technic" by W. M Rice.  Rice also published a series of articles in the Cadenza magazine to support this work.

https://archive.org/details/TuitionInBanjoTechnic/mode/2up

For dynamics, special techniques, syncopation, and rhythm exercises I recommend "How to Excel on the Banjo" by Emile Grimshaw.

That said, learning solos would be better than exercises.

AFA the pentatonic scale ads, I don't know but I am going to find out. 

Jul 7, 2020 - 8:29:08 AM

RB3

USA

736 posts since 4/12/2004

Here it is.  Double spaced for clarity, suspense and enticement.

Breakthrough Guitar

Jul 7, 2020 - 11:51:22 AM

5412 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

Here it is.  Double spaced for clarity, suspense and enticement.

Breakthrough Guitar


This looks very scammy.  But I can't figure out the angle.  I did not download the linked file.  

Is there some kind of hidden subscription course you have to buy?

Jul 7, 2020 - 11:59:26 AM
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552 posts since 8/14/2018

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

Here it is.  Double spaced for clarity, suspense and enticement.


"You see, in music, there are only 7 different “right sounds”..."

Uh...

Jul 7, 2020 - 12:28:32 PM

2639 posts since 4/19/2008

It's a lead-in to a course, as always follow the money

Jul 8, 2020 - 4:09:50 AM
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2671 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

Discounting, bashing, and evil surmising are the current marketing ploys to shock a customer into considering their offer. Claims of rapid value/knowledge to gain are another ploy. No Spock Vulcan mind meld or Matrix download exist. Hollywood is fiction to the obsured. 

The Bible contains many examples of string instruments. Heaven is described as filled with stringed instruments. Archeology identified the banjo as an early instrument of use. Neither studies will identify any references to pianos and electronic organs. They are a modern invention to expand the music repertoire.

Makes you wonder why the label? Disgruntled piano and organ players? Finding a piano player who will play with you and your banjo is tough. Most refuse. Most music is metered to favor the instrument to be played on. The banjo isn’t one of them. 

Piano and Organ players get paid. Guitar players sometimes get paid. Banjo players get shown the door. The good news is the Bible clearly identifies paid string players. A banjo is the oldest and biblical instrument around. 

Edited by - Aradobanjo on 07/08/2020 04:14:48

Jul 8, 2020 - 5:51:07 AM

1211 posts since 2/4/2013

Better change to a quad string banjo rather than play a penta string banjo.

Jul 8, 2020 - 6:23:14 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

12239 posts since 6/30/2015

Wait, you read the Washington Post and The New York Times? The paper versions? Wow!

Jul 8, 2020 - 8:04:14 AM

1959 posts since 2/10/2013

The minor pentatonic scale and blues scale only have a one note difference. So the minor pentatonic scale has a "bluesy" sound.

Don't think I am "nitpicking". Here is some info that can be useful. When mentioning pentatonic scales, one should identify which pentatonic scale they are referring to, the major pentatonic scale or the minor pentatonic scale. The two types of pentatonic scales are very different. Sort of like the words "New York". The reader/listener has to know whether you are referring to New York State or New York City. Or the name of a city without mentioning a state or country where it is located. News services make this omission all the time.

I especially like minor pentatonic licks and I am always on the "lookout" for a tune where they will sound right.

Jul 8, 2020 - 8:31:07 PM

2941 posts since 10/17/2009

The website link, author is not stating pentatonic is evil or occult.

Just presents opinion it's not useful, causes confusion and/or limitation? Offers different methodology (see below). Maybe somewhat just attention grabbling headline?

Others have found the significance of the pentatonic space, how it works as  incredibly useful, fairly foundational; as many melodies have a strong emphasis on the pentatonic notes; some styles quite heavily. As well I find it can create a frame work to melodically map out and navigating the entire fingerboard. - Note that it is not limited to just the 5 notes; other notes can be added, but still fits within the framework.

Might not necessarily be best fit for "all" of music. But still useful... and to say "don't learn pentatonic" or that it somehow harms progress is nonsense exaggeration... a bit like stating that folks "don't learn I, IV, V chords"; or "don't learn Scruggs banjo roll patterns".

------

As far as what is presented...  only 7 sounds, 3 patterns? Seems might be referring to more of chord shape based?  Perhaps linear tetra chord patterns idea? Perhaps even modes of scale approach?  These are valid other ways to think about layout... might help you; might work better for some. I don't think has to be mutually exclusive.

I do suggest students be skeptically aware of some of the hype and marketing, buzz words... especially the idea of some "innovative new way" (typically not); or "secret"; or "magic way" to quickly and easily learn... and of promises, guarantees of success. Also beware of claims of what "all" those famous people think, or do. (often no evidence of such).

It comes down to what works or makes sense for the individual.

Edited by - banjoak on 07/08/2020 20:34:42

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