Understanding the Blues

13 Jan

Hi there!

In this blog you will understand more of how the Blues works (and why its strange that it does!)

Now with most Major scale progressions and the Major/Minor scales and pentatonics this tends to conform completely with all musical formulas.

What the Blues does is actually break many of these conventions as you have many notes that ‘clash’ but for some reason sound great!

The Blues scale is essentially the Minor pentatonic scale with an added note (the b5 – often referred to as the ‘Blues’ note)

So it has 6 notes:

1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7

(these are shorthand ways of writing Root, Minor 3rd, Perfect 4th, Diminished 5th, Perfect 5th and Minor 7th)

You’ll find all 5 shapes of the Blues scale scattered around the internet so practice these.

Now it’s all well just learning these but you need to know how to apply them over a chord progression.

Typically Blues progressions are the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of any major scale turned into Dominant 7 chords (usually abbreviated to just A7 etc)

So A blues scale would work best over A7, D7 AND E7

(a major scale is A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G#)

Now this shouldn’t work but it DOES. This is because some of the notes you are playing over ‘clash’ with the notes of the scale.

For example the notes of A7 has A,C#,E and G , but the A blues scale contains a C

This is just one example of how the Blues scale breaks a musical convention – but this also gives Blues it’s unique sound. So don’t aim to think to much about why all this stuff works as one of Blues defining characteristics is how it breaks away from traditional conventions

Practice your Blues scales over different 1,4,5 Dominant 7 progressions in various keys to take your Blues playing to another level,

Cheers for reading.



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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in The Blues


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