Trading Licks: Episode 5 – Adding Tones To The Pentatonic Scale

Posted by on March 2, 2023

Trading Licks – Adding Tones To The Pentatonic Scale

This month we’re going to be jamming over a cool R&B progression in A Minor. We’ll be using the A Minor Pentatonic scale with added chromatic tones, and the Major 6th (F#) to create our five, four-bar phrases.

I’ve added the chromatic tones to create 16th note movement between scale-tones and create a mild tension before resolving to the solid consonance of the chord-tones. It’s a safe way of playing ‘outside” without getting too crazy.

The additional F# tone, allows me to add the flavor of A Dorian / A Melodic Minor over the Ami chord, and target the ninth in the E9, and the major third of the D9 chord.

Don’t be scared to add tones to your Pentatonic frameworks!

The Chord Progression

This month’s four-bar chord sequence is a hybrid progression with it’s roots based in the A Melodic Minor Scale. We can also see this as a blues- based harmonic progression with a Imi chord, instead of a I dominant seventh.

Here’s the chord sequence, and scale analysis;

         Imi       Imi        V7       IV7    ( A Melodic Minor)

II:   Ami   I  Ami  I    E7    I   D7 :II

The A Melodic Minor Scale also contains the F# tone (Major Sixth) that we’ve added to our Pentatonic phrases.

The Tonal Center & Sweet Notes

The tonal center of this chord progression is the Ami chord, so, we’ll be outlining that chord with the A Minor Pentatonic scale. You can also view the A minor Pentatonic scale as an Ami11 arpeggio, as it contains all of the chord-tones of Ami, plus the flat seventh, and the fourth. (11th)

Rhythm Guitar

You’ll notice that I’m playing the rhythm guitar part in the spaces I’ve left for you to play your melodic phrases. Take a moment to learn the rhythm guitar parts too. This will help you understand why each of the phrases works so well over the progression.

Remember to package your phrases within the spaces I’ve left for you. You can jam over the video as many times as you’d like to.

Previous Trading Licks sessions are always here on the Yamaha Guitars Youtube channel, so, please subscribe, and hit the notification bell for updates on new content.

O.k., let’s get down to business and jam.

Robbie Calvo –


Chord Progression;  II:   Ami   I  Ami  I    E7    I   D7 :II

Key – A Melodic Minor

Tonal Center Modality – A Minor

Tempo – 95 BPM