basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (2024)

The Solution below shows the C minor pentatonic scale, on the piano, bass and treble clef.

The Lesson steps then explain how to construct the scale using the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th minor scale notes.

For a quick summary to this topic, have a look at Pentatonic scale.

Circle of fifths keys in the minor pentatonic scale
KeyAEBF#C#G#D#A#DG[C]FBbEbAb

Solution

1. C minor pentatonic scale

This step shows the C minor pentatonic scale on the piano, treble clef and bass clef. There are 5 pentatonic scale notes plus the octave of the tonic note - a total of 6 notes.

The C minor pentatonic scale has 2 flats.

C minor pentatonic scale note names
Note no.Note name
1The 1st note of the C minor pentatonic scale is C
2The 2nd note of the C minor pentatonic scale is Eb
3The 3rd note of the C minor pentatonic scale is F
4The 4th note of the C minor pentatonic scale is G
5The 5th note of the C minor pentatonic scale is Bb
6The 6th note of the C minor pentatonic scale is C

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (2)

Middle C (midi note 60) is shown with an orange line under the 2nd note on the piano diagram.

These note names are shown below on the treble clef followed by the bass clef.

On the treble clef, Middle C is shown with an orange ledger line below the main 5 staff lines.

On the bass clef, Middle C is shown with an orange ledger line above the main 5 staff lines.

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (3)

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (4)

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (5)Bass Clef
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (6)Treble Clef

Lesson steps

1. Piano key note names

This step shows the white and black note names on a piano keyboard so that the note names are familiar for later steps, and to show that the note names start repeating themselves after 12 notes.

The white keys are named using the alphabetic letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, which is a pattern that repeats up the piano keyboard.

Every white or black key could have a flat(b) or sharp(#) accidental name, depending on how that note is used. In a later step, if sharp or flat notes are used, the exact accidental names will be chosen.

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (7)

The audio files below play every note shown on the piano above, so middle C (marked with an orange line at the bottom) is the 2nd note heard.

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (8)Bass Clef
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (9)Treble Clef

2. C tonic note and one octave of notes

This step shows an octave of notes in the key of C, to identify the start and end notes of the scale.

The numbered notes are those that might be used when building this note scale.

Note 1 is the tonic note - the starting note - C, and note 13 is the same note name but one octave higher.

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (10)

C chromatic scale-1 octave of notes
No.12345678910111213
NoteCC# / DbDD# / EbEFF# / GbGG# / AbAA# / BbBC
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (11)Bass Clef
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (12)Treble Clef

3. C minor scale note positions

This step describes the C natural minor scale which is needed to build the minor pentatonic scale in a later step.

The natural minor scale uses the W-H-W-W-H-W-W note counting rule to identify the scale note positions.

To count up a Whole tone, count up by two physical piano keys, either white or black.

To count up a Half-tone (semitone), count up from the last note up by one physical piano key, either white or black.

The tonic note (shown as *) is the starting point and is always the 1st note in the minor scale.

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (13)

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.

C minor scale note positions
No.12345678
NoteCDD# / EbFGG# / AbA# / BbC
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (14)Bass Clef
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (15)Treble Clef

4. C minor scale notes

This step assigns note names to the minor scale note positions identified in the previous step.

Having identified the piano keys that make up this minor scale, this step shows the note names of those keys.

C minor scale
No.12345678
NoteCDEbFGAbBbC

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (16)

To understand the music theory behind why these sharp and flat note names have chosen given the note positions from the previous step, have a look at the C natural minor scale.

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (17)Bass Clef
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (18)Treble Clef

5. C minor pentatonic scale notes

This step shows the 5 pentatonic notes (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th) taken from the minor scale.

The minor pentatonic scale is made from the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th notes from the natural minor scale above. The 2nd and 6th notes of the minor scale are not used.

Below are those notes numbered 1 to 5 on the piano keyboard.

The 6th note is the octave of the tonic note, where this scale pattern begins to repeat itself up the piano keyboard.

Wherever possible, complex note names from the minor scale are simplified to arrive at the final pentatonic scale notes.

For example, in the Db minor pentatonic scale, the 4th note of the natural minor scale Fb is simplified to be note E.

C minor pentatonic scale notes
No.123456
NoteCEbFGBbC

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (19)

basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (20)Bass Clef
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (21)Treble Clef

Related Keys and Topics

Circle of fifths keys in the minor pentatonic scale
KeyAEBF#C#G#D#A#DG[C]FBbEbAb
Music theory links in the key of C
Related linksC minor pentatonic scale,C,C major pentatonic scale,C major scale
Minor scalesC natural minor scale,C harmonic minor scale,C melodic minor scale
More scalesC chromatic scale,C blues scale
IntervalsC-1st,C-2nd,C-3rd,C-4th,C-5th,C-6th,C-7th,C-8th
Circle of 5thsLearn the circle of fifths,C minor on circle of 5ths
Modesionian,C dorian,C phrygian,C lydian,C mixolydian,C aeolian,C locrian
Triad chordsC diminished,C minor,C major,C augmented,C suspended 2nd,C suspended 4th
6th chordsC minor 6th,C major 6th
7th chordsC dim 7,C half-dim7,C min 7,C min-maj 7,C dom 7,C maj 7,C aug 7,C aug-maj 7,C maj 7 sus2,C dom 7 sus4,C maj 7 sus4
Scale triadsC major triad chords,C minor triad chords,C harmonic minor chords,C melodic minor chords
Scale 7thsC major 7th chords,C minor 7th chords,C harmonic minor 7th chords,C melodic minor 7th chords
Triad modesionian,C dorian,C phrygian,C lydian,C mixolydian,C aeolian,C locrian
7th modesionian,C dorian,C phrygian,C lydian,C mixolydian,C aeolian,C locrian
CadencesC major perfect authentic,C major imperfect authentic,C major plagal,C major half,C major deceptive
basicmusictheory.com: C minor pentatonic scale (2024)
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