Ep. 3 "How To Riff- The Pentatonic Scale" – Voice Lessons To The World



♬ Hi everybody! My name is
Justin Stoney and I'm the founder of
New York Vocal Coaching here in
New York City. Welcome to
episode three of Voice Lessons To The World. The show where we want
to answer your questions and give you the best
information on vocal technique. So today's question
comes from Alexa J. in Newark, New Jersey. And Alexa asks, "Dear Justin,
can you teach me how to riff?" Well Alexa, thank you
for that great question. And the answer is yes. However, if you
mean riff like this… [ Audio example of riff plays ] Well, that might
take a little while. But the key is,
I don't want you guys to be intimidated by riffs. So, for those of you that
don't know what a riff is, a riff is essentially a fast
set of moving notes. It's also called
a melisma, or a melismatic phrase. It's used a lot in R&B, it's used a lot in pop,
sometimes rock, and musical theatre as well. So it's fast-moving notes, and why I say not to be
intimidated by this is, if you can break it down
you can find out how riffing is actually
quite simple. And it's just something simple that
is made into something advanced. So, I'm gonna be doing a lot
of different videos on this, Alexa. Because it's not something I can
answer for you just in one day. But this is our first step in
you guys learning how to make riffing a less intimidating
thing and a simpler thing. So the very first thing that
you need to know about riffs is they're based on
the pentatonic scale. Ninety-five percent of all
riffs that you ever find are based on the
pentatonic scale. So the pentatonic scale, penta, that means five. Tonic, tones. So it's a five tone scale. And like I said,
ninety-five percent of riffs are just this scale manipulated
and moved around quickly. So if you know this scale
and you know how to use it, you're already going to be
so much further along in your ability to riff. So come on round and let me show
you what this scale looks like. So the pentatonic,
or five tone scale, goes like this… ♪♪ One two three four five four three two one. ♪♪ ♪♪ Now if I start to move
this a little faster, you can hear how it
really applies to riffs. ♪♪ ♪♪ So that's just five tones,
broken up very fast. So like I said,
a lot of pop songs use the pentatonic scale or are
based in the pentatonic scale and they use it for the song itself
as well as for the riffs. A good example of this
is the popular song Rolling In The Deep by Adele. You're going to see how this song
is based on the pentatonic scale. And there's a cool little riff
right at the beginning, which is kind of an easy one and
a simple one for us to see how riffs apply with the
pentatonic scale. So if we take
this song right here… ♪♪ ♪ There's a fire starting in my heart ♪ ♪ Reaching a fever pitch ♪ ♪ And it's bringing me out the dark ♪ You might have been
able to hear that that is the pentatonic
scale in the song. But let me break it
down further. So come on round. So the Adele song uses
the pentatonic scale. [ Plays pentatonic scale ]
♪♪ But she breaks
it up like this.. [ Plays song melody ]
♪♪ And notice that
she doesn't just go… ♪ There's a fire ♪
[ Without riff ] But… ♪ There's a fire ♪
[ With riff ] ♪ Fire ♪
[ With riff ] ♪ Three – two – one – one ♪ ♪ Four – four – three – two- one – one ♪ ♪ There's a fire ♪
[ With riff ] And that little movement of… [ Plays riff ]
♪♪ Is a manipulation of
the pentatonic scale, which causes
that great riff. So, already you can see
that it's really important to know how to use
the pentatonic scale within a pop song
and to be able to move your
voice within it. So we're just gonna do
a quick little exercise here, moving our voices around
within the pentatonic scale so that Alexa, or anybody,
you can start to get better at your riffs by knowing how
the pentatonic scale works. So we're just going to
take a simple exercise with an M-A-Y,
May – May – May. And we're gonna move up and
down the pentatonic scale… ♪♪ ♪ One – two – three – four – five ♪ ♪ four – three – two – one ♪ But we're gonna
do it on a "may". So it's going to be… ♪ May – May – May – May
May – May – May – May – May ♪ That's for the guys. Girls you're going
to be up here… ♪ May – May – May – May
May – May – May – May – May ♪
[ Plays higher octave ] Okay, so we're going to
do this together. ♪♪ ♪ May – May – May – May
May – May – May – May – May ♪ Good! ♪♪ Nice job. ♪♪ ♪ May – May – May – May
May – May – May – May – May ♪ Good for you! ♪♪ ♪ May – May – May – May
May – May – May – May – May ♪ That's it! ♪♪ ♪ May – May – May – May
May – May – May – May – May ♪ Good. ♪♪ Nice job. ♪ May – May – May – May
May – May – May – May – May ♪ Couple more… ♪♪ Nice job. So that's the
pentatonic scale, and already you're moving
your voice around within it, starting the foundation of riffs. So thanks for
that question Alexa. If you guys have questions that you
want us to answer on the show, you can send an email to [email protected]
[♪] [♪] We encourage
you guys to just
[♪] not lose that joy
and that passion.
[♪] Don't let people tell
you that you can't sing,
[♪] because you know
that's not true.
[♪] I want you to find a great
voice teacher in your area,
[♪] and if you're in
New York City
[♪] you can check out
our website at
[♪] www.NewYorkVocalCoaching.com.
[♪] And if you like these videos
you can check out
[♪] www.VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
[♪] I'm Justin Stoney,
[♪] we'll see you next time.
[♪] ♬

46 thoughts on “Ep. 3 "How To Riff- The Pentatonic Scale" – Voice Lessons To The World”

  1. Hi, I just found your vocal lessons but since I sing without any knowledge of vocal. So can you please direct me(since am confuse😟) from where to start first , is this lesson right for the beginners like me.
    New subscriber from nagaland india

  2. I subscribed already I like the way you teach in this video, clear and also I can see the piano keys you are playing….very good. Thanks

  3. I have no ability to hear notes. I just hear frequencies. Er, maybe that's the same thing but I've never been able to tell scales apart. For instance, I could see how the "Fi-i-ire" was on that scale. But I can't see how any of that first riff was on the scale. So I understand that there are 5 notes in a pentatonic scale but I have no ability to determine whether my notes I sing are on that scale or not. But I will practice it. For some reason, I can't sing songs on the same frequency. I always have to stop their voice for a minute and try to sing it myself then let them go, then try that part. But I am practicing.

  4. Woah I just realized Ariana Grande's song, "Be My Baby" is just a pentatonic scale in the beginning😱😱😱 Ur an amazing vocal coach btw! I've tried to go to coaches in my area but they are-to put it lightly-duds that never taught me anything I didnt already know! Your videos are so well thought out and packed with actually useful information!!

  5. guys someone please help me out with an answer!? I mean all these fancy stuff to learn about music, did all the great singers like rd sheeran or James Arthur go through these to become what they are today?!

  6. Melismatic Phrased exist in Hymnody (for example; Gloria in Angels We Have Heard on High; Lord in Sing to the Lord a new song; He has done Marvelous Things in the refrain of EARTH AND All Stats; and of course; Alleluia on Jesus Christ is Risrn Today, but these examples are ttoped rather than as a Riff and only some Hymnody is in a pentatonic setting.

  7. fck. this is not (just) the best but the only instance and source that I'm learning to fine tune my singing.
    thnx, man.

  8. Yeey! Lesson No. 3 ❤❤
    Woah. It's the first time that I've understood the Pentatonic Scale! Thanks Justin!

  9. I love how I could just sing along and practice with this guy every time I want to warm up my voice. Technology is a beautiful thing 😉

  10. Good lesson… it's important to recognise in terms of theory, that there's the major pentatonic and minor pentatonic. This version played is the minor pentatonic, with scale degrees 1, b3, 4, 5, b7. For example, Am pent. it relative major pentatonic is C major pent. which is the same notes just ordered 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.

  11. Losing my joy and passion after singing for so many years. My chronic fatigue and pain (Fibromyalgia) is wearing me down. Started today with picking up your lessons again.

  12. This is the first time i saw your video justin … Haha .. Your videos in the past are not the same from the latest one.. The latest ones are more lively and more inspiring.. Your my idol..

  13. Good intro to riffing.. off minor pentatonic (1, 2 3, 4 7 8) off natural minor. Learning to riff is useful for not only pop/r and b artists but I use these kind of exercises with my jazz students.. For example a jazz minor pentatonic standard that is good to practice off of is Duke Ellington's In a Sentimental Mood.. Major Pentatonic on the other hand is 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 off Major.

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