Pentatonics Diary
"Take It From The Middle"

‘From the Middle’ drills the minor pentatonic chromatic K4/H5 tone by starting melodic figures on that tone. Two preparatory drills PD 01-03-16 in Dm and Em and in Gm and Am build up to the twelve-bar ‘concert performance’, PD 30-08-17.

Here’s the final twelve-bar ‘From the Middle’ PD 30-08-17 performance, so you know what we’re aiming for. Don’t try to play it straight away.

Study in Dm and Em

Here is the first of the two build-up studies – PD 01-03-16 in Dm and Em.

Here are the two plus-K4/H5 keyboards you will be practising.

The advantage of a version in D and E minors is that they are both white-key minor pentatonic scales with an obviously central black K4/H5 tone.

The MS is in your lesson notes, if you want to use it. Watch out for the clef and key changes in the music – watch the performance and read along with the video performance to see how the written music relates.

Learn the right hand notes groups with the right fingering– RH2 on ©4 to go up, RH4 on H5 (same note) to go down. This may change, but it should be your ‘default’ fingering for white-key pentatonic minors.

Note the swing quaver marking – try to keep the triple feel sharp and not a lazy, practically even rhythm.

Practice the right hand and build up some speed and accuracy darting between the two places you play before adding the left hand. This is marksmanship – you’re actually aiming at/for those four groups of four notes.

 The left hand

The left hand plays in three places, always an octave below where the right hand finishes its run. Verify this for yourself.

Follow how the left and right hand are closer together/further apart in a pattern.

Study the chromatic (semitone) connecting runs between the Dm and Em positions.

  • They are always according-to-pattern, plus a semitone step towards the new bass note.
  • The connecting run means that the hands play together at the start of the new position (bars 9 and 13).

Half-way-house performance

Darting up and down the keyboard in both hands in these studies is a challenge in itself. Knowing just what you have to do and setting off in time is the secret.

If the movement really baffles you, play the whole study within a single octave. Watch the MidiPiano video example on-page.

Study in Gm and Am

Watch the video of the second of the two build-up performances, in Am and Gm.

Here are the two plus-©4/H5 keyboards you will be practising.

The only black-key/white-key difference to the Dm-Em version is that the G minor pentatonic scale already has one black key – BH – so with new black K4/H5, it will have two.

Find your new tones and practice the up/down runs starting on fingers 2 and 4 as before.

Add the bass line with the connecting runs.

Don’t be tempted to stint on practicing this second version. Every time you play this pattern, your real, practical knowledge of the minor pentatonic scale and this new chromatic K4/H5 passing tone deepens and firms. There is no shortcut to that. A full performance of the build-up study in G and A minors is expected.


Use the MS in your Workbook/lesson notes; this thumbnail is for identification purposes only.

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