What is a Pentascale?

By Hoffman Academy Team
Pentascale Guide

What IS a pentascale?

A pentascale is the first five notes of a major or minor scale. 

Penta = 5
Scale = a patterned set of notes

Pentascales are incredibly versatile! Pianists often learn pentascales before the full, one-octave scale because they’re shorter, they fit under the five fingers, and they follow a simple, easy-to-remember pattern. Plus, pentascales help with learning triads (a basic, 3-note chord), AND they appear in all types of music!

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The Pentascale Pattern

There are two main types of pentascales: major and minor. Many people say that major pentascales tend to sound “happy,” while minor pentascales sound somewhat “sad.” Whatever they sound like to you, it’s actually pretty easy to make either pentascale! 

All scales, no matter their length or quality, follow a pattern of stepping notes. Pentascales use a mix of whole steps and half steps. 

Learning to play the pentascale.

In both major and minor pentascales, there’s just one half step – the difference is where that half step falls! Every other note is separated by a whole step. 

Major Pentascale Steps.

Major pentascale pattern: In a major pentascale, the half step appears between “Mi” (note 3) and “Fa” (note 4). 


Minor Pentascale Steps.

Minor pentascale pattern: In a minor pentascale, the half step appears between “Re” (note 2) and “Me” (note 3, pronounced “may”). 

Playing Pentascales on the Piano

Using these patterns, you can create pentascales starting on ANY piano key. Simply place your five fingers over the five keys of the pentascale and play away!

Of course, if you just need a quick reference, we have this handy Pentascale Guide for you. Click the button below to download. Happy Practicing! 

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