In our previous two lessons, we went over the Major Scale and the Minor Pentatonic Scale. Specifically we learned the A Major scale and the F#m Pentatonic scale. We chose those two scales because F#m is the relative minor in the key of A. Simply, this means that these two scales go together when playing in the key of A.
Putting the scales together
The diagram on the right shows both the A Major scale (denoted in blue) and the F# Minor Pentatonic scale (denoted in red). The purple dots indicate where both scales overlap. This is where the magic happens.
When you are playing a song in the key of A, you can use either scale to create melodies and lead lines. You will often need to use notes from both scales, though, so the purple dots allow you to ‘cross over’.
For example, if you’re playing the minor pentatonic scale, the 3rd note you’ll hit is the C# – it’s the purple dot just behind the 4th fret of the A string. That same C# is also the 3rd note of the A major scale. So, if you’re playing the minor pentatonic, and you hit that C# with your third (ring) finger, you can slide up to the 5th fret or the 7th fret. Now you’re playing in the A major scale.
This works with any of the purple notes – you can slide up into the major scale or down into the minor scale.
To get fluid with this you’ll just need to practice. There are no real hard or fast rules – you just need to know where each scale is and which notes are in it, and then work on moving back and forth between them. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself moving seamlessly and creating licks and lead melody lines.
This same strategy works for all keys. Just use the Major Scale and the Minor Pentatonic Scale for the relative minor in that key.
Keys and relative minors
The relative minor is always the 6th of the major. Here are some examples:
- Key of A – relative minor is F#m
- Key of B – relative minor is G#m
- Key of C – relative minor is Am
- Key of D – relative minor is Bm
- Key of E – relative minor is C#m
- Key of G – relative minor is Em