Alright so I'm very new to music, I got all I know from various internet sources that I think reliable, but of course correct me if i'm wrong in any of the following.

I'd like to understand how to find chords from a pentatonic scales. I tried to find the chords in the pentatonic C major scale, but I don't know if I did it right

What I did is just what I do when I'm looking for chords in a major scale: I take the third and the fifth from the root note

I   = 135 = CEA : CMadd6
II  = 135 = DGC : Dsus4add7
III = 135 = EAD : Esus4add7
IV  = 135 = GCE : Gsus4add6
V   = 135 = ADG : Asus4dim

Are the chords and their names right ? Can I uapply the rules of functional harmony with this ? For some reason, theses scales give me a hard time to understand. Thank you in advance


I found following chords are applicable for C Major Pentatonic Scale. But I am not sure able theoretical selection of applicable chords. Hope it helps you.

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You're building chords by taking every other note, like we do when we build chords from a major scale. But let's look at that a bit closer: chords in tonal music are constructed in thirds; using every other note is more or less a happy accident of how the scale is constructed. In a regular scale, we build chords with every other note because those pitches are a third apart. But this isn't always true with a pentatonic collection.

In other words, we still want to build chords in thirds, not necessarily with every other note in the pentatonic collection, because those pitches aren't always a third apart.

Secondly, it would be difficult to apply functional harmony to chords using only the pitches of the pentatonic scale. This is because functional harmony is so heavily defined by the tritone. In a major scale, the tritone is created with scale-degrees 4 and 7, and these are the exact pitches that are not included in the pentatonic scale! As such, one of the real defining features of functional harmony is absent in the pentatonic collection.

The only triads you can create in a C pentatonic collection are C major (C E G) and A minor (A C E). As for seventh chords, you're stuck with just one: Am7 (A C E G).

Otherwise, the chords will be incomplete. You can have an incomplete E minor (E G), for instance, but you'd be missing the chordal fifth B. You could also have an incomplete G major (G D), but you're missing the vitally important chordal third B.

With such a paucity of harmonic possibilities, you may go the route of using the pentatonic collection for melodic material only, and using the full scale collection for the harmonies. This way you get the best of both worlds: the sense of pentatonicism in the melody with the harmonic possibilities of a fuller tonal context.

  • Can't think of any other way to look at this question. +1. – Tim Apr 9 '18 at 9:25

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