L2: C Minor Pentatonic

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

This lesson assumes you have read and understand the information on the Level 1 page of this section.

Use UkeBuddy.com’s scale finder to look up the C minor pentatonic scale. Please note that Uke Buddy only displays notes in sharps, but the C minor pentatonic scale should use flats. Therefore, when writing the scale out, the D# should be written as an Eb (they are the same note), and the A# should be written as a Bb (again, the same note).

Visit this lesson on note values from Khan Academy if you need a refresher on time signatures, whole notes, half notes, etc. (its only 3min long).

CHALLENGE

Earn your Soloing Level 2 patch by demonstrating the following:

  • After printing out some staff/tab paper (pdf), write out the C minor pentatonic scale up to the 3rd fret using whole notes. Start with the low C on string 3 and work up to the high C on string 1. Write the appropriate fret numbers on the tab below the staff (numbers should only appear on strings 1, 2 & 3).
  • Play the C minor pentatonic scale from the bottom note to the top and then from the top note to the bottom. Tempo (speed) does not matter, but keep a steady beat.
  • Write a four measure melody in 4/4 time (16 beats) using the notes from the C minor pentatonic scale. If you’re wondering why you’re writing a melody out, keep in mind that composition is only improvisation in slow motion. You may use half, quarter and eighth notes freely, but only one whole note. Work on this until you’re sure you like it. Keeping a steady beat, play your composition.

Going the Extra Mile

If you find you really like your mini-composition, you’ll only need to write another four measures to turn it into a short AABA piece. You’ll play it this way:

A = the four measures you’ve already written
A = repeat the four measures you’ve already written
B = the four new measures
A = repeat the four measures you’ve already written

There are a lot of songs from the folk tradition as well as classic broadway tunes that use 32-bar form (Deck the Hall and Somewhere Over the Rainbow are given as examples in the article). The form of these songs is the same as what you’ve written, just twice as long.