Piano Pentatonic Scales

The pentatonic scale is frequently used in lots of popular music styles. There is both pentatonic major and minor – in this case the minor is more used. Note that C minor pentatonic has identical notes as Eb major pentatonic but in another order, D minor pentatonic has the same notes as F major pentatonic and so on. Knowing this will make it easier for you to memorize.

Minor Pentatonic Scales

Here are pictures and notes of the minor pentatonic scales. These scales are very common in many styles but not at least in pop and rock music. See also Major Pentatonic Scales.

Cm

C Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: C, Eb, F, G, Bb, C
Fingerings (LH): 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

C#m / Dbm

C# Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: C#, E, F#, G#, B, C#
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

Dm

D Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: D, F, G, A, C, D
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

D#m / Ebm

D# Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: D#, F#, G#, A#, C#, D#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Em

E Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: E, G, A, B, D, E
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Fm

Fm Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: F, Ab, Bb, C, Eb, F
Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

F#m / Gbm

F# Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: F#, A, B, C#, E, F#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

Gm

Gm Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: G, Bb, C, D, F, G
Fingerings (LH): 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1

G#m / Abm

G# Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: G#, B, C#, D#, F#, G#
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 5, 4, 3, 2
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Am

A Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: A, C, D, E, G, A
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

A#m / Bbm

A# Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: A#, C#, D#, E#, G#, A#
Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3
Fingerings (RH): 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3

Bm

B Pentatonic minor diagram
Notes: B, D, E, F#, A, B
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

Pentatonic Minor Scales overview
C: C, Eb, F, G, Bb, C
C#/Db: C#, E, F#, G#, B, C#
D: D, F, G, A, C, D
D#/Eb: D#, F#, G#, A#, C#, D#
E: E, G, A, B, D, E
F: F, Ab, Bb, C, Eb, F
F#/Gb: F#, A, B, C#, E, F#
G: G, Bb, C, D, F, G
G#/Ab: G#, B, C#, D#, F#, G#
A: A, C, D, E, G, A
A#/Bb: A#, C#, D#, E#, G#, A#
B: B, D, E, F#, A, B

Interval: 1, b3, 4, 5, b7
Semi-notes: 3 - 2 - 2 - 3 - 2
Formula: Whole and a half, Whole, Whole, Whole and a half, Whole

Major Pentatonic Scales

This five-note scale is similar to the major scale but with the 4th and 7th degrees removed. Major pentatonic scales are especially common in traditional folk music, county and gospel. Here are pictures and notes of the major pentatonic scales.

C

C Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: C, D, E, G, A, C
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

C# / Db

C# Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: C#, D#, F, G#, A#, C#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2
Fingerings (RH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4

D

D Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: D, E, F#, A, B, D
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4

D# / Eb

D# Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: D#, F, G, A#, C, D#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

E

E Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: E, F#, G#, B, C#, E
Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

F

F Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: F, G, A, C, D, F
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4

F# / Gb

F# Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: F#, G#, A#, C#, D#, F#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

G

G Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: G, A, B, D, E, G
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4

G# / Ab

G# Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: G#, A#, C, D#, F, G#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3

A

A Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: A, B, C#, E, F#, A
Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1

A# / Bb

A# Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: A#, C, D, F, G, A#
Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 3
Fingerings (RH): 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3

B

B Pentatonic major diagram
Notes: B, C#, D#, F#, G#,B
Fingerings (LH): 1, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1

Pentatonic Major Scales overview
C: C, D, E, G, A, C
C#/Db: C#, D#, F, G#, A#, C#
D: D, E, F#, A, B, D
D#/Eb: D#, F, G, A#, C, D#
E: E, F#, G#, B, C#, E
F: F, G, A, C, D, F
F#/Gb: F#, G#, A#, C#, D#, F#
G: G, A, B, D, E, G
G#/Ab: G#, A#, C, D#, F, G#
A: A, B, C#, E, F#, A
A#/Bb: A#, C, D, F, G, A#
B: B, C#, D#, F#, G#,B

Interval: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Semi-notes: 2 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 3
Formula: Whole, Whole, Whole and a half, Whole, Whole and a half

Improvising with the Pentatonic Scale

The Pentatonic Scale is a flexible scale for improvising and apart from the standard way, which is combining a scale with chords in the same key, you could also be outside the key. By "being outside the key" means that you don’t necessary must played chords and scale that belongs to the same key. For example, you could play G Major Pentatonic over  a C Major chord or E Minor Pentatonic over a A Minor chord.