What do I mean by Pentatonic harmony?

The topics I will cover will be the following:

Possible Harmonies of the Pentatonic Scale


First off, I’m going to refer you to my Pentatonic Punishment book where you can see all the scales shapes of each and every key both major and minor. If you know your shapes already or if you know them in at least one key thats fine, you can keep going with this post.

Even if you don’t, you can still learn a lot from this post without going through Pentatonic Punishment.

I wrote that book sort of as a predecessor to this one or a precursor to this. It was meant as a workout to learn the shapes and fly all over the neck as quickly as possible.

Ive recently added a whole slew of tabs to it. Check it out here. Its only a few bucks.

One thing I mentioned in that book is to play the scales using sequences to keep from getting bored.

Sequences can also help you come up with guitar solo ideas while strengthening your fingers and improving your technique.

When playing the shapes on all 6 strings, go extra slow making sure you get excellent tone. Tone comes from your fingers mostly.


Chords (pentatonic harmony) –

these chords use solely the 5 notes of the pentatonic scale thus giving you authentic pentatonic harmony and not harmony mixed with the major scale. Lets say we are in C Major and A minor – same scale – for the following chords there is no F and there is no B note in any of the chords.

There is no F and there is no B note in any of the chords.

Thats actually the main reason for this. It was to introduce and examine the Pentatonic scale across the neck using only the 5 notes of the pentatonic scale. This way you get true pentatonic sound without any interruption from any other notes outside of the scale.

When you use outside notes of the pentatonic scale it is no longer considered pentatonic.

So there you have it.


Thats what this is about. Its about limits. Its about limiting yourself to 5 notes and producing beautiful harmonies from only 5 notes.

I felt the need for this type of lesson because I was never introduced to the scale in this way. In this way I was able to see the scale the way I wanted to see it.

I wanted to see the scale laid out before me in a way where I was using solely the 5 notes of the Pentatonic scale.

This seemed highly interesting to me because I was never given this type of instruction from my previous teachers.

As soon as I got into Classical Music and saw all the treaties and all the essays written on music, I immediately wanted to branch out and teach myself something in a new way.

I tried to make this as thorough as possible since its only the thorough books that I keep going back to year after year.



will get you further than you ever imagined. Commitment to those 2 things will take you beyond what you thought was possible. When I first started learning guitar I had no concept of the deep, musical abyss that can be music.

Music is a lifetime thing.

I highly suggest you COMMIT to music if you want to be a musician. It is the greatest thing you can do for yourself if you are passionate and purposeful about your craft.

Here are the chords that are derived solely from the Pentatonic scale in A Minor.


Chords Built from the Minor Pentatonic Scale (chords are the same for the C Major Pentatonic scale)

The scale formula is – 1 b3 4 5 b7.


Chord options for the i chord

i – 1 b3 5 – a c e

sus4 – 1 5 and 4 – a e d

i5 (Power Chord) – 1 and 5 – a e

i minor 7 – 1 b3 5 b7 – a c e g

Minor 7sus4 – e a d g

i add11 – a c e d

i add11(no5) – a c d


Chord options for the III chord

III5 – 1 and 5 – c g

III – 1 3 and 5 – c e g

III9 – 1 3 5 and 9 – c e g d

III6/9 – 1 3 6 and 9 – c e a d same as iadd11


Chord options for the iv chord

iv5 – 1 and 5 – d a

ivsus4 – 1 5 and 4 – d a g

iv7sus4add9 – 1 4 5 b7 and 9 – uses all 5 notes –

d g a c e


Chord options for the v chord

v – e g

vadd11(no 5) – e g a

v7add11(no 5) – e g a d

v7(no 5) – e g d

v7(#5) – e g c d same as III9


Chord options for the VII chord

VII5 – g d

VIIadd6 – g d e

VIIadd9 (no3) – g d a same as ivsus4

VII6/9 (no3) – g d e a same as v7add11(no 5)


You can have 4 (True) Power chords –

i III iv and VII – A5 C5 D5 G5

2 true triads – i and III

A C E = A minor and C E G = C Major

I use the word “true”, because you can not have a true D minor chord because there is no F in the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

If you use this chord, you will sound more like you are in the Key of A Minor, not the key of A minor pentatonic so to speak.

Its not really a key in itself its just a way of restricting our selves to 5 notes to see what possible magic can come of this composing technique.

  • Play around with the harmony and come up w a few riffs or progression ideas.
  • Remember that if you dont apply what you learn to a song, you dont really learn it and understand it fully.



See ya next time’