Need pentatonic finger patterns.

November 1, 2013 at 09:02 PM ·

Replies (20)

November 1, 2013 at 10:38 PM · If you understand piano than this is good start.

November 1, 2013 at 11:05 PM · That's really simple......

All you do is remove the 4th and 7th degree and then play all the inversions of these patterns.

You are only limited by your imagination.....

November 2, 2013 at 03:53 AM · someone on here has a jazz scale book for violin, try searching the blog archive.

November 3, 2013 at 11:43 AM ·

November 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM · Following on from Henry's advice: many Irish folk tunes used "gapped" scales - scales usually with a missing 4th and/or 7th, so they're worth attention.

November 3, 2013 at 02:11 PM · It shouldn't be too hard to make up your own patterns. Really, if you are using these for non-classical playing, which I'm assuming, then you need to get away from the mindset that always needs to relate to music through the written page. You will think in a different way if you have to work them out by ear.

November 3, 2013 at 03:07 PM · If you already know how to read music than spend five minutes learning the notes of the piano, it's a valuable asset.

Piano notes

November 3, 2013 at 09:01 PM · many Irish folk tunes used "gapped" scales...

And have a listen to Balinese Music....

November 4, 2013 at 01:42 AM · spend five minutes learning the notes of the piano..

Just play the black notes and you have the major scale pentatonic and it's inversions.

But there is the pentatonic patterns, and their inversions, of all the other modes in the same key......e.g. Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian...etc....

November 4, 2013 at 02:30 AM · There is also something useful called a diminished scale which alternates half and whole steps (there are exactly three such scales) and the two whole-tone scales.

The advantage of piano study is that you gain a visual appreciation of intervals, chords, scale patterns, and the like. I believe this is one of the reasons for its ubiquity in music degree programs. There is a downside -- one can rely too much on the visual facility and forget to use one's ear. As an amateur jazz pianist, I understand this risk only too well.

The guy with the jazz scale book is Mike Laird. Type "jazz scale book" in the Google search box on this discussion page and you will come to his book.

There have been some contentious discussions on this site about how best to approach jazz on the violin. Patterns and scales have their place, definitely, but the origination of melodic line in improvised jazz has to be your mind's ear. A pattern is a way to express, ornament, and stitch together melodic ideas. But if the patterns themselves are the origin of your ideas, you can please a certain crowd but your playing will lack that interest and freshness that the idiom really demands.

November 4, 2013 at 07:01 AM · You can learn to visualise/understand patterns in the 2D fingerboard just as well and in some ways more easily than on the piano, its just a matter of approach.

Melodies are patterns too, depending on your perspective. Some people use the word "pattern" to mean just a "template" or "recipe".

November 4, 2013 at 09:21 AM · To get a wide range of fingering facility I'd also familiarize myself with a few of the scales and modes of Eastern European music,

such as this klezmer misheberakh,

D-E-Fnat-G#-A-B-Cnat-D (same descending)

and this strange one from Muntania,

A-Cnat-C#-D#-E-F#-Gnat (same descending)

(my teacher likes to finish a lesson with the two of us sight-reading Eastern European violin duets)

November 4, 2013 at 11:18 AM · Greetings,

if you really want to go global then

Julia Lieberman -Planet Musician is a really enjoyable book that covers not only er, non classical note patterns and scales but also rythms.

A fascinating work.



November 4, 2013 at 04:44 PM · Liz,

In case you have had any difficulty searching for my book with violin improv exercises to build technique, here's a link.

Arpeggios, Rhythms and Scales

You can also get it via or other book sellers.

It contains pentatonic major and pentatonic minor scales in all 12 keys, plus jazz scales and commonly used modal scales, and of course, the blues scale in all keys.

Paul Deck makes a good point above that one should not practice only scale patterns. More broadly, don't practice just one of anything. The technique book has a variety of exercises, e.g., arpeggios for all 7th chords in several "re-usable" finger patterns, rhythm exercises, blues etudes, improv exercises, riff exercises, etc. Practice a mix. Most violin improvisers have found that 7th arpeggios are a fundamental skill. When arpeggios in any mixed order/inversion come "automatically", you can launch out into something and know that you can get back to a "good-sounding" note in some future bar because your are in command of the arpeggios notes for that up-coming chord.

Wishing you much success.

November 5, 2013 at 12:44 AM · My personal "thesaurus" naturally includes documentation of the fingering possibilities for both scales mentioned by Trevor (and all the above), in all inversions and all keys in a few simple, obvious visual depictions. Just for the record.

By the way, does anyone know, or can they guess, exactly how many distinct scale and chord types (of any number of notes) are possible in a single twelve note octave; that is to say how many interval patterns there are ignoring differences due to tonality and inversion? Kudos if you can actually calculate it.

Hint: many fewer than 1000.

November 5, 2013 at 02:47 AM · Check out Mark Wood's Electrify your Strings

It covers A LOT. It is surprisingly challenging too.

November 5, 2013 at 03:16 AM · Check out The Jazz Violin and Harmony Handbook by Christian Howes on

November 5, 2013 at 01:37 PM ·

November 5, 2013 at 06:42 PM · Hey,

My friend teaches how to play violin online, hes really good at it, even I have started learning from him, I think he could help you out with your problem. And also to everyone else who wants to learn to play violin from the begging, I can drop a link if anyone is interested ;)

November 5, 2013 at 09:13 PM · If you know D major Pentatonic then you already know a Minor Pentatonic.....Just play the same notes but B is the tonic note of B minor Penta.

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