Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Easy Way To Understand The Blues Scale

Have you ever wonder why there are so many blues scales? There is E blues scale, b blues scale, A blues scale, and so on. The problem with these variations is that it makes very confusing especially to beginners. 

Blues scales
Understanding the blues scale is very important and failure to do so may lead to frustration. It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many scales when you just starting out.  

However, if you just take time to understand the basic principle behind the blues scale then you'll realize that it is just as easy as ABC. 

In this post I will do my best to explain the blues scale in the simplest way and hopefully once you finished reading, you will fully grasp the principle behind the blues scale. 

By the way, if you want to download quality blues scale guitar lessons for FREE, please check out my article Blues Scales: How Can I download Blues Guitar Lessons for Free? by clicking here!

Blues scale is called hexatonic because it is made of 6 notes. Now the question is "where these 6 notes came from?" The notes were derived from the minor pentatonic and the minor pentatonic came from the major scale. Now you’re confused! 

Let me explain this really simple. Remember the do re mi fa so la ti do thing that your music teacher taught you back when you were still a little Guy.? That's the major scale. It is composed of 7 distinct notes plus the 8th note which is just a duplicate of the first note. Take 5 notes of from the major scale and you'll have a pentatonic scale. 

To be specific, take the 1st, flat 3rd, 4th, 5th, and flat 7th note out of a major scale then you'll have a minor pentatonic scale.

                                         1st       2nd      3rd       4th         5th       6th       7th     Octave
C major scale                  C          D          E          F          G          A          B          C
C minor pentatonic          C                       Eb        F          G                      Bb        C

Shown above is an example of a major scale in the key of C and how C minor pentatonic extracted from the C major scale. Take note that This principle can be applied to any key and not just in key of C. Don't be confused with this. 

You can have major scale and minor pentatonic scale in key of A,B,D,E,F,and G. Basically to get a minor pentatonic, you just omit the 2nd and 6th notes out from a major scale then have the 3rd and 7th flatted and you'll have a minor pentatonic scale. Here's another example in the key of A.

A major scale                 A          B          C#          D          E          F#          G#          A 
A minor pentatonic         A                       C            D          E                        G            A 
Now from the minor pentatonic, we can extract blues scales out from it. If you look at the pentatonic, there are only 5 notes. Of course the word "Penta" means five. But in a blues scale we should have 6 notes. So we need one more note to complete the scale and that note is the flat 5th. The note arrangement of blues scale is 1st, 3rd, 4th, Flatted 5th, 5th, and 7th. You can notice that the notes are just the same with minor pentatonic except for the added flatted 5th. 

So to make it simple, a blues scale is just a minor pentatonic with added flatted fifth. 

That flatted 5th is also called the blue note and that makes all the deference when being played with other notes. If we apply the principle of the blues scale pattern from an A minor pentatonic, your A blues scale would be A, C, D, Eb, E, G, A.  

You see you just need to copy the minor pentatonic scale then add the flat 5th on it, that's simple.

A major scale                 A          B          C#          D          E          F#          G#          A 
A minor pentatonic         A                       C            D          E                        G            A
A blues scale                 A                       C            D    Eb  E                        G            A

We have already answered where does blues came from musically. The next question is "Why there are so many blues scales? Basically, we only have one blue scale and that is the 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7 but you can apply this pattern to any key so you'll have many blues scales.

Photo thanks to John Steven Fernandez


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