Country School: Major Pentatonic Scale-Chords

Time and time again, you are going to discover and rediscover that scales and chords are intimately inter-related. Knowing your chords helps you know your scales and knowing your scales helps you know your chords! Understanding and mastering such scale-chord relationships is a prerequisite to fluent country improvisation and will also pay huge dividends when sight reading, transposing, and playing by ear!


The definitive scale-chord pairing in country music is the Major Triad and its parallel Major Pentatonic Scale. If we apply this concept to the big three chords (I-IV-V), we get three sets of matched "scale-chords" or "chord-scales" as follows (in the key of C):

The C chord (I) is paired with the C Major Pentatonic scale...

country major pentatonic

country major pentatonic

Fingering Tip: Fingering will be easy if you think in terms of two hand positions:

country major pentatonic

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The F chord (IV) is paired with the F Major Pentatonic scale...

country major pentatonic

Ear Training Tip: The key center has not shifted to F. C is still the key center Do. In this context, the F Major Pentatonic scale is a mode of C Major.

country major pentatonic

Fingering Tip: Fingering will be easy if you think in terms of two hand positions:

country major pentatonic

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The G chord (V) is paired with the G Major Pentatonic scale...

country major pentatonic

Ear Training Tip: The key center has not shifted to G. C is still the key center Do. In this context, the G Major Pentatonic scale is a mode of C Major.

country major pentatonic

Fingering Tip: Fingering will be easy if you think in terms of two hand positions:

country major pentatonic

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