A podcast listener sent me a question about the song “Alive” by Pearl Jam. It was in regard to how four major chords fit together to form the chorus and guitar solo progression E-G-D-A and why the E minor pentatonic scale works over the whole thing.
I explained that the E Dorian scale has the chords Em, G, D and A. The Dorian scale also has all of the notes of the E minor pentatonic. The minor pentatonic is often applied to major tonics (in this case, an E major chord) for a minor over major blues sound. That’s why the Em is played as major and the E minor pentatonic still works. “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix also applies the E minor pentatonic over the same chords (with a C chord in the mix too).