As you may know, I am writing a small instrumental sketch for every musical scale that inspires me, exploring its mood. The project is called “Moods and Modes” and you can learn more about it clicking here.
Today I am gonna talk about pentascales. “Pentascale” is a seldom used musical term used to describe a 5-note scale made up of the first five notes of a major or minor scales (e.g. C-D-E-F-G).
Its usefulness lies in the practice of piano teaching: every (five fingered) piano student has learned to play simple melodies based on the notes you can play without moving your hand on the keyboard: one finger - one note.
Put your right thumb on a C on the piano, and your other fingers will naturally position themselves in the successives white keys of D-E-F-G. This is the simple major pentascale:
This scale is seldom used in music composition but… why not? To have more material to work with, I cheated a little bit and permitted myself to move the hand, playing some of the 5 notes (C-D-E-F-G) also on the lower or upper octave. This is the extended scale:
This is a short melody composed with this material:
This melody sounded to me as festive and somewhat strange, so I imagined a bunch of aliens saluting the rising sun on their planet, I gave the melody to an alien-sounding synth sound, and Sunrise on Mars was born.
If you put your right thumb on an A key instead, and let your other fingers lay down on successive white keys, you get a minor pentascale (A-B-C-D-E):
Cheating a little beat as before, I added some notes (A-B-C) also on the upper octave:
The character of this scale is more sombre and reflective. The melody I came up with is this:
I imagined played in a smokey bar with a latin jazz feel. With an old piano and a muted trumpet to set the mood, this ended up in Autumn Sunset
Thanks for reading!
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Stay tuned for the next releases! Coming next: old plain simple C major!