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Basic pentatonic lick that moves by tritone and is great for slipping in and out of minor keys played over a C minor 7 vamp

Posted on February 17, 2014 by Jay Gillespie

This is a basic super hip minor pentatonic side slipping lick where I move by tritone every bar. This Jazz lick is great practice for slipping out of and back into any minor key you are soloing in. I’m playing this pattern on a Bb tenor saxophone so it will sync well on trumpet.

Minor pentatonic pattern.

Here is a sound sample over a C minor 7 vamp played on tenor saxophone:

How to memorize this pentatonic Jazz pattern in 12 keys:

The best way to get comfortable with this lick is to memorize it in one key at a time and memorize the pattern, not the notes. The pattern is (from whatever note you start on in the minor pentatonic scale), skip one note going down. For example, in Cmin7 pentatonic, start on C, skip the Bb and go to the G. Then go down one scale degree, in this case to the F. Then go back to the note you skipped, the Bb. Then continue on down one scale degree, the G, and repeat the process. It is a 4 note pattern starting on every other scale degree of the minor pentatonic scale. Skip one, down one, back to the one you skipped, down one. Once you are comfortable with playing that basic lick in all twelve keys you can start moving the pattern by tritone. If you start on the root and play two permutations of the pattern you will always land a half step away from the root of the key a tritone away. So starting on C: C G F Bb, G Eb C F. Simply go up a half step from the F to the F# and play the pattern in F#. You’ll end two permutations in F# on the note B. Just go up a half step to C and do it all again.

The pattern works exactly the same ascending. Skip one, up (instead of down one), back to the one you skipped, up (instead of down one). Ideally you want to get to the point that you can slip out of and into any key you want regardless of the scale degree (not just using the root). This just gives you an easy jumping off point to hearing how it sounds to play a tritone away from the rhythm section and because you leave and return to each key on a strong scale degree, the tonality is very clearly defined.





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  1. 24 09 14 19:13

    ebon talifarro


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