Canadian Musician May/June 2017 - Page 25

GUITAR Dan Gillies is a freelance musician, performer, music director, clinician, and guitar instructor who makes his home in Fort McMurray, AB. He released his self-titled debut instrumental record in the fall of 2014 and continues to “live the dream” journeying with his guitar. You can contact Dan and learn more on his website: By Dan Gillies T What’s Minor Is Major he first scale many of us learn when we venture into lead guitar is the all-powerful pentatonic scale, or more specifically, the minor pentatonic and first of five shapes. We’re told the greatest soloists of all time – King, Clapton, Page, SRV, Slash, and numerous others – all thrived on this scale. The trick is knowing how to apply it (i.e. how it sounds over various changes) and how to be musical with it. There are great resources on developing the minor pentatonic scale, whether by patterns, exercises, or licks. They can illustrate how this scale appears across the fingerboard – in five vertical shapes – and speak to developing phrases horizontally with those shapes. In this column, you will learn how to take the scale we all love and use it in different musical scenarios. For theory diehards, the two most popular pentatonic scales we use are the minor and major pentatonic. The minor is built using the 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 in relation to its “parallel” major scale; the major is built using the 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 of a major scale. When you compare a minor pentatonic to its “relative” major pentatonic, you get the same notes! This means that the pentatonic shape we learn as beginners is both a minor and major pentatonic scale! Let’s use the A minor pentatonic scale to illustrate this. Starting on the low E string, fifth fret, you get these notes: A, C, D, E, G. If we compare this to an A major scale, you’ll see that the degrees men- tioned above have been applied. If we start from the second note of the scale on the low E string, eighth fret, you get these notes: C, D, E, G, A – the same degrees as a C major pentatonic scale; therefore, an A minor pentatonic scale has the same notes as a C major pentatonic scale (relatives!) and you can use that one shape to solo over a variety of styles in either major or minor keys. Here are some examples: EX. 1 Ex. 1 is in the style of Jimmy Page. Try it ove r an A minor rock progression. Ex. 2 has a country rock feel. Play it over a C major or C7 progression. Ex. 3 is in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan. It combines notes from the minor and major pentatonic scales as well as a flat fifth. Try this over an A7 or A6 slow blues progression. EX. 2 Next, try interchanging these licks over each progression to hear how the phrase changes with a new har- mony. Learn the five “vertical” penta- tonic shapes across the fingerboard and play them in different keys. Try adding chromatics and bends to spice things up, and most importantly, learn to play solos by your favourite play- ers! Chances are they’re all using this scale too… EX. 3 Check out Dan’s video version of this lesson at: php/lessons/ W W W. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N . CO M C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N • 25