Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Suggestion for lesson

I would love to see a lesson on blues, especially 12 bar blues. I would be very interested in learning about using the minor pentatonic over the major chords for 12 bar blues. I haven’t seen anything related to this - did I miss something? Thanks for your consideration and all of the great lessons.


Just curious, have you mastered the major pentatonic scales yet? I’ve been working these lately. The relative minors I’m finding are simply a different starting point on the scale… Pentatonic scale = One scale created to rule them all.


“Master” is putting it too strongly, but I know the basics. I thought a lesson on using the minor pentatonic over the major chords with blues would be great. For me, having a couple of specific examples worked out helps me to take it from there. I agree with you that those scales seem really important. Thanks.


Exactly! Neil has some powerful understanding going on. The modes display the same thing. Modes can seem complex and almost like alchemy but it is really mechanically simple. Modes are defined by the same notes and intervals, but they have a different starting point. That’s it… really… that’s all it is in terms of how they are defined.

Back to major and minor pentatonic… since they are subsets of the major and minor scales, related pentatonics have a similar property of the same notes with different starting points. That is powerful for knowing where the notes lay. BUT: (“everybody has a big but” - PeeWee Herman) the notes might be the same, but the musical context and how the notes are used will typically be quite different.

I think Tom’s suggestion for the lesson is a good one. I think there are lessons that already cover this to a certain extent, but I don’t remember one like this exact topic for mandolin. I have confidence Ben can do something really useful to help us connect more dots. There are all sorts of milestones in getting theory into our noggins, and I think such a lesson could lead to some understanding that is really handy in understanding fretboard geography. Such understanding could lead to breakthroughs in our playing as well. I think theory is fine, but theory that directly leads to better playing is awesome.

“Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick. Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”
-Bruce Lee


To get a taste of the power of the pentatonic-scale, have a friend play (for example) 2-bars of G-chord and 2-bars of Em-chord (Relative minor of G) and repeat x1000. While your friend is doing so, jam-along using only the G pentatonic scale. When you get to the Em bars, simply use the same notes, but begin on the E note of the G pentatonic scale. Like magic your solo notes suddenly sound Minor. Really can’t play a “wrong” note. Happy picking! Note:. As you probably know, there are a total of 5 pentatonic scale boxes, starting out, it’s probably easiest to focus on just one and it will capture essentially all keys for a quick start. You might be way ahead of me on this stuff.

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