Basic Pentatonic Sequences
Rather than performing scales purely ascending and descending, patterns can be created within them to produce repeating sequences. These sequences have a cascading effect that can be used in improvisation. Most are constructed by following the same pattern of intervals from each scale degree. For instance, a sequence built of three ascending steps in C major would proceed C-D-E, D-E-F-, E-F-G, etc.
There are a handful of common sequences that are best to memorize for use in any scale. For simplicity’s sake, we will first learn these sequences using pentatonic scales. They are shown here in the A minor pentatonic scale in fifth position. After learning each sequence, apply it to all five patterns of the pentatonic scale, and in all twelve keys. You can also practice each sequence using hammer-ons and pull-offs for pitches on the same string. Once a pattern is under your fingers, begin using it to improvise, spending a minute or two on each pentatonic shape.