I saw a Robben Ford instructional video a few years ago, and he suggested occasionally lowering the b7 in a minor pentatonic scale to the 6 to achieve tastiness. I thought it was a good idea, so I learned to employ the idea in the appropriate bluesy settings. I never thought to learn it as a separate pentatonic scale: 1 b3 4 5 6.

The other day I was practicing some country style Mixolydian improvising over a 12-bar A7-D7-E7 progression. I was taking a variety of related approaches to finding notes for each chord: Mixolydian scale, major pentatonic, 1-3-5-b7 arpeggio, 3-5-b7-9 arpeggio. A good use for pentatonic scales is as an intermediate approach between the full 7-note scale and the 4-note arpeggio. But I felt like the major pentatonic over dominant 7th chords wasn't cutting it. I wanted something that still had the b7 in it. So, in a move similar to Robben Ford's, I raised the 6 of the major pentatonic to the b7: 1 2 3 5 b7.

I played around with this new scale for a bit and realized it's the same pattern as the altered minor pentatonic with a different root. Furthermore, the roots are a perfect 4th apart, so you can use the same altered pentatonic notes over both chords in a ii-V progression. In C major, Dm7 is the ii chord, and its altered minor pentatonic notes are D F G A B. G7 is the V chord, and its altered major pentatonic notes are G A B D F. Fascinating.

So now I'm learning fingering shapes for these scales. Maybe I'll use them more often. Also looking at where else I can use them. Next post?