By Bob Chappell, Teacher

The Musicarta Pentatonics Workbook

Language: English
All Levels

Course description

The pentatonic scales are five note scales with two of the major and minor scale-tones missed out, leaving stripped-down music-ready scales with basically no 'wrong notes'! This makes the pentatonic scales a really good starting point for getting into creative popular-styles keyboard playing – which is what  the Musicarta Pentatonics Workbook offers.

There are optional and comprehensive theory modules for reference with hard copy downloads, plus progressive keyboard drills to help you work through the  build-up of the major and minor pentatonic scales in all keys yourself, with full video support.

But mostly, the emphasis is on getting some real, attractive pentatonic music into the collection of pieces you can just play - pieces which illustrate whatever 'theory' we;re looking at - and teaching them in a way that gives you real creative keyboard skills.

Watch the introductory video for some examples, like the minor pentatonic One-Octave Blues - up and down the minor pentatonic scale in three places – nice, easy all-white-keys for beginners, every step demonstrated and how to practice it. You can't go wrong!

The major pentatonic scale is demonstrated with another characteristic showpiece which is worth your while mastering for its stylistic building blocks even if the style is not quite your 'cup of tea'.

Musicarta is the field leader in coaching the syncopation in these typical popular style pieces: what to practice, how to practice it, and video demonstrations to follow.

Then on to the characteristic additional semitones which you'll find in the pentatonic scales, both major and minor, and which you're going to want to know about to flesh out your melodies and improvisations, and to hone your playing-by-ear skills.

The new resources are demonstrated with pieces which build on what you already know, so you actually hear the new options you're acquiring. And as you learn more notes, you get more options.

Mix'n'Match Blues is an exercise in playing by ear which also invites you to exercise your musical judgement and craft your own arrangement from a selection of possibilities. Composing at the keyboard, we call it here at Musicarta - sort of slow-motion improvisation, really.

Because of their simplified, five-note structure, the pentatonic scales are a great entry point for 'playing by ear'. It's really not much of an exaggeration to say that most of the popular music melody you hear is mostly pentatonic, so if you can find the major and minor pentatonic scale-tones on the keyboard – which, if you work through this course, you will be able to – you'll be way ahead of the game in terms of picking popular music melodies out at the keyboard.

Our playing-by-ear module uses 'logical melodies' to give you more of a fighting chance, and progressive exercises, through increasingly so-called 'difficult' keys, which will leave you essentially "knowing what the keyboard sounds like".

And whether you're working on other people's material or playing your own, isn't that just what you want to know?

And so to improvisation. The simplicity and familiarity of the pentatonic scales, together with their 'no wrong notes' properties, makes them great for first steps in improvising.  Blues improvisation is nearly all purely pentatonic, usually minor. Piano blues is a whole genre in itself, of course, but even with just the basics, you'll have that blues sound down, and you can get a nice two-handed groove going.

Twelve-bar pentatonic blues riffs get your mojo working - and what's music without mojo? Soaring major pentatonic soloing is also massively productive in terms of effect from resources. Running up and down well-chosen fragments of the five-note major pentatonic scale easily generates great emotional impact.

But we all have to practice. Not just running up and down scales - even pentatonic scales. More like pentatonic scale-tone patterns, which are 'practically music already'  patterns - you're soloing without knowing it.

The Musicarta Pentatonics Workbook has enough practice patterns to keep you going for a year, which will teach you how to find the music you want to play and coach you in getting your fingers round the keys. Personally, I heartily recommend the this workbook - not just as its author, but because the pentatonic scales really are so foundational that it's difficult to think of a creative musician who doesn't know them thoroughly, use them profusely-and is mighty fond of them!

And they're so immediately rewarding to work on too. Hopefully, I'll see you on the course!

Bob Chappell/Mister Musicarta

Cape Town,

May 2018

Related Skills

Course overview - 113

  • The Musicarta Pentatonics Workbook - Introduction

  • The One-octave Pentatonic Blues - Part One

  • The One-octave Pentatonic Blues - Part Two

  • The One-octave Pentatonic Blues - Part Three

  • The One-octave Pentatonic Blues - Part Four

  • Pentatonic Riffs in A Minor (PRAM) Part One

  • PRAM Part Two

  • PRAM Part Three

  • The Major Pentatonic Scale - Ambling Around

  • Ambling Around, Part Two

  • Melodic Pentatonic Study

  • Melodic Pentatonic Study - Part Two

  • Melodic Pentatonic Study - Part Three

  • Melodic Pentatonic Study - Part Four

  • Melodic Pentatonic Study - Part Five

  • Melodic Pentatonic Study - Part Six

  • Chromatic Minor: Mix'n'Match Blues

  • Mix'n'Match Blues, Video Two

  • Mix'n'Match Blues, Video Three

  • Chromatic Major: Gliding About

  • Gliding About, Part Two

  • Gliding About, Part Three

  • Chromatic Minor: 'From The Middle'

  • From the Middle Part One, Video Two

  • FTM Part One, Video Three

  • FTM Part One, Video Four

  • FTM Part One, Video Five

  • From the Middle Part Two, Video One

  • FTM Part Two, Video Two

  • FTM Part Two, Video Three

  • FTM Part Three, Video One

  • FTM Part Three, Video Two

  • FTM Part Three, Video Three

  • Pentatonic Blues in Two Keys - Video One

  • PBTK Video Two

  • PBTK Video Three

  • PBTK Video Four

  • PBTK Video Five

  • Learning the Pentatonic Scales:The Major Pentatonic Scale, Video One

  • The Major Pentatonic Scale, Video Two

  • Major/Relative Minor Pentatonic Scale Pairs

  • Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales on the same root

  • Major/minor same-root pairs, Video Two

  • Major Pentatonic Build-up of Tones Drill

  • Build-up of Tones, Video Two

  • Pentatonic Scale-tone Practice Patterns

  • Pentatonic Scale-tone Practice Patterns, Group One

  • Pentatonic Scale-tone Practice Patterns, Group Two

  • Pentatonic Scale-tone Practice Patterns, Group Three

  • Pentatonic Scale-tone Practice Patterns, Group Four

  • Symmetrical Pentatonic Melodies: Introduction

  • SymPentMel Video Two

  • SymPentMel Video Three

  • SymPentMel Video Four

  • SymPentMel Video Five

  • SymPentMel Video Six

  • SymPentMel Video Seven

  • SymPentMel Video Eight

  • SymPentMel Video Nine

  • Melody Video Ten: Looser Rules 1

  • Melody Video Eleven: Looser Rules 2

  • Playing by Ear Video One

  • Playing by Ear, Video Two

  • Playing by Ear, Video Three

  • Melodic Pentatonic Study Part Seven

  • Playing by Ear, Video Four

  • Playing by Ear, Video Five

  • Playing by Ear, Video Six

  • Pentatonic Hanon 01-04-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon Exercises 19-02-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon Exercises 27-07-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon Exercises 30-07-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon Exercises 26-07-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon Exercises 29-12-19 Video One

  • Pentatonic Hanon Exercises 29-12-19 Video Two

  • Pentatonic Hanon 29-12-19 Video Three

  • PentHan 05-01-20 Video One

  • PentHan 05-01-20 Video Two

  • Pentatonic Hanon 26-07-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon 26-02-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon 28-02-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon 10-04-19

  • Pentatonic Hanon 01-12-20 Lesson Series

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Exercises 1-6 in C

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Exercises 7-12 in C

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Mixed Pairs in C

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Exercises 1-6 in E flat

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Exercises 7-12 in E flat

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Mixed Pairs in E flat

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Exercises 1-6 in E

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Exercises 7-12 in E

  • PentHan 01-12-20: Mixed Pairs in E

  • PentHan 01-12-20 series: Play-by-ear orientation

  • Playing-by-Ear (PBE): Video/Exercise 1

  • PBE Video/Exercise 2

  • PBE Video/Exercise 3

  • PBE Video/Exercise 4

  • PBE Video/Exercise 5

  • PBE Video/Exercise 6

  • PBE Video/Exercise 7

  • PBE Video/Exercise 8

  • PBE Video/Exercise 9

  • PBE Video/Exercise 10

  • PBE Video/Exercise 11

  • PBE Video/Exercise 12

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 1

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 2

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 3

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 4

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 5

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 6

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 7

  • PBE Mixed Pairs Video/Exercise 8

Meet your instructor

Bob Chappell (aka Mister Musicarta) has been "messing round with chords" since he got turfed off the school piano for playing four-handed boogie with a pal. A lifetime musician, playing for functions and ballet classes around the world and in every modern style under the sun, Bob now teaches and plays in Cape Town, South Africa. Years of teaching a creative curriculum called 'composing at the keyboard' have been honed down to what works best to free that musician within, underpin steady progress, and cultivate the pleasures of a musical life. Looking forward to seeing you on the courses!