E minor pentatonic and more improvisation

Remember the E minor pentatonic you learnt before? Let's extend that to all six strings.

E minor pentatonic

Here are some patterns based on E minor pentatonic.

E Minor Pentatonic - Pattern One

E minor pentatonic triplets

E Minor Pentatonic - Pattern Two

E minor pentatonic pattern

Improvising with E minor pentatonic

The minor pentatonic scale is a good starting point for improvising over either a major or a minor key. Try playing a simple E minor to A minor chord sequence, one bar on each and repeated. You will need a way of recording this and playing it back, or someone else who can play it while you improvise.

Follow these steps to start improvising:

  • While the sequence is playing, try playing the patterns shown above.
  • Try to find two or three notes repeated that sound good over the chords. This is known in the art of improvising as a 'lick'.
  • Try to create two or three of these 'licks' and alternate playing them.

Here are some simple licks you can try:

E Minor Pentatonic - Lick One

Pentatonic Lick one

E Minor Pentatonic - Lick Two

Pentatonic Lick two

E Minor Pentatonic - Lick Three

Pentatonic Lick three

Now try the same thing, but this time change the chord sequence to E major and A major. The combination of playing a minor pentatonic over a major key gives the improvisation a blues feel.

A major chord

E minor blues scale

By adding a couple of notes to E minor pentatonic, we get an E minor blues scale.

E minor blues scale

Exercise using E minor blues scale.

Try using a combination of the E minor pentatonic and the E minor blues scale to improvise over the E minor/A minor chord sequence we used earlier.