Some Pentatonic Major 7 Vocabulary

I've been playing with Common b6 Pentatonic from my previous post over the past view days and thought it would be worth noting some applications of this and the Hungarian Minor Pentatonic to major 7 chords.

Although I call it Common b6, like most guitar players I "see" the minor pentatonic a bit mroe readily than major. This one is weird because in that case the root is flattened, but it turns out it's still more natural for me to visualize it as being "built on" the flattened note, so that's what I do.

On Major 7, I like this pentatonic built on:

  • The b6: 1 2 3 5 b6, a very inside sound (this is the actual "Common b6 Pentatonic").
  • The root: 1 3 #4 b6 7, still quite inside.
  • The 5: b2 b3 #4 5 7, quite a strong outside sound.
  • The 4: b2 4 b5 6 7, a strong outside sound.

Both the b6 and root versions imply Lydian Augmented, a mode of Melodic Minor, but they give quite different flavours. The version built off the 4 is completely different: 1 b2 3 4 b5 6 7 is Double Harmonic, which as I mentioned last time can also be conjured up by playing the major 7 arpeggio up a semitone. So these are really two different "sound-worlds".

You can do a similar exercise with Hungarian Minor, which is 1 b3 #4 5 7. This actually works OK in the root position on a major 7 chord as long as you don't mind the bluesy b3.

  • The 4: 1 3 4 b6 7, an inside sound (mix with the Common b6 at the root to get Harmonic Major).
  • The root: 1 b3 #4 5 7, a bluesy sound.
  • The b6: 2 b3 5 b6 7, another bluesy sound.

Combining the second and third of these implies Hungarian Minor, which isn't the first thing you'd think of to play on a major 7 chord!

Combining the second Common b6 Pentatonic application (1 3 #4 b6 7) with the second Hungarian Minor Pentatonic application (1 b3 #4 5 7) produces 1 #2 3 #4 5 b6 7, which is Dhatuvardani -- dissonant but worth experimenting with and very easy to find.

Despite their differences, these ideas all seem to belong together. That might be just because I'm practising them together and my ear is learning to accept them as a group, but that's OK too.