Pentatonic Scale –
An Oriental Variation to Musical Scales!

Pentatonic Scales are a variation on the basic major scales, and they comprise of selective notes from this basic scale! If we were to write the notes in solfege, it would be like this:

1 (Doh), 2 (Re), 3 (Mi), 5 (Sol), 6 (La), 1 (High Doh)
If you are familiar with the notes in a basic Major Scale, you would discover that the Pentatonic Scale is the Major Scale, but without the 4 (Fa) and 7 (Ti) notes! These 2 notes have been intentionally left out in order to create the distinct sound produced by this scale!

These pentatonic notes are most commonly used in Oriental music, for example Classical Chinese Music, or even commercial Mandarin pop songs that wish to recreate an ancient Chinese ‘feel’ to the music for a song!

Before we embark on actually singing these useful scales and training our pitching ability, please do make sure you do some basic vocal warmups like lip trills, in order to be sure that your voice is all warmed up and ready for singing. Also, do check out my simple pitching tips written especially for you, to guide everyone towards being able to pitch well when singing!

For those who are able to play the piano or other musical instruments, here is a useful chart with the notes for every pentatonic scale beginning on the various basic notes of a piano.

Do try to sing along as you play, and this will be an extremely useful pitching exercise for you to improve your pitch sense:

pentatonic scales are useful pitching exercises for singing

For those of you who need more assistance, I have uploaded some practice music for you right here, so that you can practise these Pentatonic Pitching Exercises online, right here on this website! The scales are played with the first note of the scale sounded initially, followed by the rest of the basic notes of the scale consecutively, first ascending, then descending, and finally ending right back with the initial starting note. Try it out and this will be a useful and challenging variationon the basic scales that you may be used to singing:

Bb Pentatonic Progression

B Pentatonic Progression

C Pentatonic Progression

C# Pentatonic Progression

D Pentatonic Progression

D# Pentatonic Progression

E Pentatonic Progression

Another suggestion that may be of help would be to check out the section on ‘Singing Problems’ and understand the various problems that we may be vulnerable towards committing when singing. Once we know the problems well, we will know how to spot the warning signs, and to reduce these bad habits whenever we are practising our pitching exercises or our singing!

Now, if the above information has piqued your interest regarding Pentatonic Scales, here is a diagram that shows you the structure of a C Pentatonic Scale, as well as the various notes used and the distance between each of these notes:

Structure of a Pentatonic Scale for Singing


Looking at the diagram, you may notice that some notes are 1 Tone apart, meaning that there are 2 semitones or 2 half-steps between these 2 notes. However, other notes are a ‘Tone-Plus’ apart! This would mean that these notes are 1 1/2 Tones apart, or 3 semitones or 3 half-steps apart from each other!

Knowing your tones and semitones will allow you to be able to build any pentatonic progression you desire, starting on any note of the piano or other musical instruments!

You will also notice the similarity between this scale and the Basic Major Scale, with the only difference being the missing 4 (Fa) and 7 (Ti) notes as previously mentioned. Knowing how to sing your major scales will definitely aid you in singing pentatonic scales, and vice versa too!

One final note, make sure that in the course of all your practising of the scales and pitching exercises, do take care of your voice by eating healthily and drinking lots of water! Take note of the various tips as to how to take care of your voice, as well as the various good and bad singing foods, and you will be able to develop a strong and healthy set of vocals which also sings in tune!

Return from Pentatonic Scales to Pitching Exercises for Singing

Return from Pentatonic Scales to Your Personal Singing Guide Homepage

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