We play minor pentatonic scale to learn, its easy because there are few notes, that sounds like chinese music or a very primitive blues.

We'd like to mix this notes with chords, are major chords of the notes of the pentatonic scale going to fit well? maybe they have to be minor since it's a minor pentatonic scale...

In notation:

Eb notes of the minor pentatonic: Eb, Gb, Ab, Bb, Db, Eb

would fit ?

Eb major chords of the minor pentatonic: EbMaj, GbMaj, AbMaj, BbMaj, DbMaj, EbMaj

Thanks !

  • These notes are the black keys on piano/keyboard. Would that be a good tag to post as well as 'scales'?
    – Tim
    Dec 3, 2015 at 9:06

4 Answers 4


Chords don't work in quite the way you have put. They tend to be used in groups (of 3 majors and 3 minors, put simply). There's usually a I, a IV and a V in a key (all majors). These translate to Eb, Ab and Bb in key Eb. The notes you ask about form the pentatonic minor of Eb (a.k.a.D#). Also the pentatonic MAJOR of Gb (a.k.a. F#). It's long been used as a blues type scale - only the b5 (A, or Bbb) is missing. This set of notes works well over the 3 major chords above. If they are played as dominant 7ths, so much the better.The Gb maj and Db maj also work as chords, because they belong to Eb minor, the parallel key. So - YES, all will work .Try them!!


No, they will not work!. It simple because the minor pentatonic it's a piece of a major scale. If you are in Eb minor the major scale you should refer it's the F# major scale with its chords: F# G# A# B C# D# F F#. So you can use all the chords that are generated from these notes F#maj, G#min, A#min, BMaj, C#bmaj, D#min, Fmin5b, F#maj. I you want only the chords in the pentatonic avoid the 2°(9°) and the 4° chords.

At the end let me explain better one thing. When you use a minor pentatonic you have to think on the relative major scale to find the tonality and the chords that you can play. So if you are using a Eb minor pentatonic the chords available from the F# major scale(and these chords are the same of the Ebmin scale, the only thing that changes it the root and the intervals).

If you use a Eb minor pentatonic something that definitively does not work is play chords from the Eb maj scale (except in some blues).


Of the tonal keys, your Eb minor pentatonic is most closely related to Eb minor of course, but also its relative major, Gb major. I have just tried playing all 7 triads of Gb major against the "Eb minor pentatonic" in your question, and they all work quite pleasantly (sorry, that's an opinion; objectively, there are few dissonances).

Note: I recommend the triads of Gb major rather than Eb minor, because the V of Eb minor will contain a D natural, presenting an unpleasant clash with your pentatonic scale.

By contrast, the triads of Eb major are full of clashes with your pentatonic scale. To my ears, it's quite pleasant, in a Stravinskian way! But that may not be what you are after... (again that's an opinion; objectively, the result is bitonal and full of dissonances)

  • The V of Ebm can be either Bb OR Bbm. The latter contains Db rather than D natural, so it works. But, in any case, the clash of maj.3 against min.3 works well in Blues, always.
    – Tim
    Dec 3, 2015 at 9:53
  • No, the V of Ebm is only ever Bb major if you're talking about tonal music in the diatonic system, because of the raised 7th in the harmonic minor scale. The triad on the fifth degree of the Eb Dorian mode (aka "natural minor") on the other hand is Bb minor (and never Bb major). Dec 4, 2015 at 19:21


For simplicity, let's consider C minor pentatonic. Then the notes are C, E♭, F, G, and B♭. If you play a major chord on each of those, you get I, ♭III, IV, V, and ♭VII. In a C major scale, the I, IV, and V chords would normally be major chords anyway. The ♭III and ♭VII are often described as being "borrowed" from the parallel minor key -- a technique sometimes referred to as "modal mixture". In fact, these chords actually form the foundation for a lot of modern blues and rock progressions.

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