Hey forum. My reason for this post to me sounds advanced, but I know how good some of you guys and its probably nothing to ya.
The other day I decided I was done with covering songs for a while. That's all I have ever done. Been playing for a few years and covered songs mostly. I have a small collection of riffs and things I have written that are really cool...but I don't know why. You see; I have no idea what all this guitar stuff is. I recently discovered these things called scales, chords, and backing tracks. I know all those basic open chords, and I basically know the Minor Pentatonic Scale. There are five positions, and depending on which note you start on is what the name of the scale is...right? Also if was in D standard tuning and played what would be the A Minor Pentatonic (in E standard), in this tuning it would be the G Minor Pentatonic...correct? And now onto the matter of backing tracks. They are tons of fun. I really enjoy them and sometimes just sit there and jam for hours. But lately I have been wondering, what makes the track that some random guy made sound good with what I am improvising on the Minor Pentatonic Scale?
I just type in youtube "*note* Minor Pentatonic Backing Track", and the rest is magic. I don't like doing something and not knowing how, I guess im too inquisitive. It's really bugging me. What if I had a friend over and wanted to take turns one of us doing backing chords, and the other scales? How would we know what chords to play, and in what order?
So that was my first real question. My next is. Since I think ive got this Minor Pentatonic down, I wanted to look into the next one; Major Pentatonic. And from what I have watched on youtube...I am completely thrown off! Is there no simple way to explain it?
Well, the really short version is the word "penta" refers to five, so a pentatonic, whether major or minor, is going to be comprised of 5 notes out of the 7 in a scale. Picking the notes make it either a major or minor.
In order to avoid too much confusion, there are some basic "patterns" for the minor and the major keys, but one thing I try to stick with is playing the particular pattern revolving around the root note that I'm calling it, which sounds very obvious, but may be confusing at first.
Start with something like A minor pentatonic on the 5th fret of the low e string, and learn that pattern. It sounds like you are already there, and that's good, because that's about the easiest thing there is to do on a guitar. Then maybe try the A major pentatonic pattern at that fret as well and dick around with those in other positions (ie starting frets or keys) and go from there.
Maybe these images will help:
There's no magic to picking the chord progression; that's actually the fun part. Play your chord progressions that you and your buddy make up, but use the key and notes, or mode, of the pentatonic to create your lead. By choosing the pentatonic approach, you're adding the pentatonic flavor or sound over that progression. Eric Johnson is pretty notable for doing this, and a really good example of a simple chord progression with a pentatonic "lick" is the intro to Sweet Child of Mine by GNR.