Improvising Using The Pentatonic Scale

A Pentatonic Scale is a scale that is made up of five different notes. (Penta = five tonic = tones)

This scale is great for piano players, guitar players, and pretty much any musical instrument. Why? Because this scale is used for improvisation.

Improvisation is making up the music as you go. So how can this scale help you make up music on the fly?


This scale is made up of the root, second, third, fifth, and sixth of the major scale. Go here if don’t know how to build a major scale.

So if we are in the key of C the Scale would be

C - D - E - G - A

Pentatonic Scale

So in any key you can find the Scale with the Root. Second, Third, Fifth, and Sixth note in the major scale.

Uses of This Scale

Remember I said that this scale is great for anyone who wants to play an instrumet and can help with improvisation?

This is because whenever you play a major chord, you can play any note in the pentatonic scale and it will sound good.

Lets stay in the key of C. The major chords in the key of C would be C, F, and G. Try it!! Play any of these chords in the left hand and then play any note from the Pentatonic Scale and it will sound right.

Watch this video of Bobby McFerrin using the Scale.

He is having the audience sing a note in the scale while he uses the rest of the notes from the scale.

This is just one example of how you can use this scale to help you improvise on the piano and keyboard.


Like any scale on the piano, make sure you learn this scale in all twelve keys. When you learn this scale in all of the keys it will help you to add flare to you music and help you with soloing.

When soloing with this scale just make sure you are playing them over a major chord and it will sound great.

Now go and show off to your friends using this scale to run up and down the piano.

Go From Pentatonic Scale Back to Piano Scales

Back to Home Page