The musical examples are all written out, as all examples in the book are, in standard notation and tablature. DeCorte also gives the numerical notation for each sequence to help the student to memorize each pattern, allowing them to focus on the neck of the guitar rather than the written notation. At the end of the first half of this chapter DeCorte provides the reader with nineteen more examples that the student can practice through any of the five pentatonic scales they have learned up to this point.
The second half of the chapter deals with applying these patterns and sequences to the full range of the guitar. DeCorte gives two examples of how the student can link each of the five pentatonic fingerings across the guitar to cover the entire neck with each sequence. This is a key step in the evolution of any improvising guitarist and will probably be the section of the book that the reader will spend the most time mastering. Spending the time to master this section of the book will make it much easier to apply all of the licks and patterns presented in later chapters.
The second chapter finishes with DeCorte presenting an exercise to the student that will allow them to play the pentatonic scale in all twelve keys in one position. Readers who are familiar with the teachings of Tal Farlow or Jack Grassel will know this approach as the â€œsix-fingerâ€ method. Though, while Farlow and Grassel focused on seven note scales and modes when teaching this approach, DeCorte sticks to the pentatonic patterns used in this book which provides the reader with a new twist on a tried and true pedagogical technique.
Chapter 3: The Others
The third chapter of Pentatonic Soundscapes is the shortest section of the book but contains very valuable information for the reader. This chapter deals with two concepts, the altered pentatonic scale and artificial harmonics in the style of Lenny Breau and Ted Greene as applied to pentatonic scales.
The altered dominants used are similar to what Gary Keller talks about in his scale book for jazz musicians, though in this case DeCorte presents them in a manner strictly for guitarists. He also discusses how to finger these scales, how they relate to the previously learned pentatonic scales and how they can be applied to practical situations. Musical examples are also given using lines and phrases from DeCorte's own playing.
The section dealing with artificial harmonics presents practice material for any reader that is interested in applying this technique to the pentatonic scale. DeCorte uses musical examples that were inspired by Ted Green and Lenny Breau, where the student is to alternate playing a fretted note and a harmonic as they ascend and descend the scale. This technique is also called â€œharp harmonicsâ€ and can add a new level of harmonic sophistication to any solo, introduction or chord melody.
Chapters 4, 5 and 6: A View from the Side, Handling Common Progressions and Transcription Excerpts
The final three chapters all combine to form a larger section that presents the student with performance examples taken from DeCorteâ€™s playing and transcriptions he has done of famous players such as John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner and Peter Bernstein.
These chapters also present material intended to help the reader add slurs to their pentatonic scales as well as how to properly pick through each example in order to maximize right-hand efficiency. These chapters will be some of the most enjoyable sections of the book for the student as this is where the rubber really meets the road. Students who have mastered the material from the first half of the book will now be able to fully grasp how each of these examples were built and how they can be applied to their own solos.
I recommend Pentatonic Soundscapes for advanced beginner to intermediate level students who are looking for new source material in their study of the pentatonic scale. Guitar teachers will also be able to use this book in their studios as a guide, and for the examples, when teaching the major and minor pentatonic scale to their students. The very reasonable price of this book will also make it an attractive buy for any guitarist as they look to expand their pedagogical library.