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(@almann1979)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Am i right that the blues scale is just a minor pentatonic with the bluesw note added
e.g the A blues scale starts on the 5th fret??
so, the blues scale would be a minor scale then?

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


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(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497
 

The Blues Scale is the minor pentatonic and it consists of
1) root
2) minor 3rd
3) 4th
4) 5th
5) minor 7th

Many players add the diminished 5th (tri-tone) and often by bending the 4th up a half step on the guitar.

Also, you can make the 9th work in the blues if you are careful where you put it.

But at least as far as what I was taught, the blues scale is the minor pentatonic, especially when played over a major chord.

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Most music theory scholars will tell you that the minor pentatonic scale and the "blues" scale are two different scales. And it's something that folks will argue endlessly over because they can. It makes more sense to call them two different scales, but because the guitarist uses the minor pentatonic so much in blues music a lot of players use the two names interchangeably.

As you've mentioned, the minor pentatonic is the root, flat third, fourth, fifth and flat seventh.

As Notes says, adding the flat fifth will give you the blues scale.

If nothing else, it's good to think of them as two different scales because you'll run into people who will tell you to "play a blues scale" and then you can find out which one they want you to play.

To make matters more fun, these are far from your only choices when soloing to the blues. As Notes mentions, adding the ninth (in terms of chords) is certainly done quite often and many soloists like to throw in the major third (usually after using the minor third as a grace note) into the mix. Switching between the minor and major pentatonic scales for soloing over the blues is also done a lot by all sorts of musicians.

Peace


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(@notes_norton)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Switching between minor and major pentatonics during a blues song can change the flavor of your solo from dark to bright (I like to think of it as sour and sweet). During the major pentatonic I like to use the minor 3rd in the same way as I do the b5 in the minor pentatonic. Your ears should tell you when this is appropriate and when it isn't.

When playing pop/rock/blues/country solos, I would guess most of what I play revolves around the pentatonics with the "extensions". It just seems right for those genres of music.

And yes, there is some disagreement on whether the minor pentatonic or the minor pentatonic with the b5 IS the blues scale, and frankly, the experts can argue about it all they want. I know my pentatonics, where the adjacent dissonances are, and hopefully when to use them with taste to please an audience. And so far I must be doing OK, because I'm still making a living by gigging ;)

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

That major pentatonic with the minor third is also the minor pentatonic with added flat fifth (a.k.a. "the blues scale") of the relative minor of the key you're in. As long as your backing is major I-IV-V, you can use any and all of these notes without making any "clams."

I was taught the terminology "blues scale" for the minor pentatonic + flat fifth, sometimes including the major second to make a seven note scale, and "traditional blues scale" for the major pentatonic + minor third. Whatever; they work.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@almann1979)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Topic starter  

Okay, so in the example of blues in A major, i can use the C note? (this would be using the minor 3rd over a major chord yes?)

now, why does that not sound horrible, or is it just used very quickly as a passing note?

So, over an A minor chord you could use the C# note in the same way?
Is there a general rule for how these "outside notes" are used?
Also, what is the 9nth?? i have trouble with this as i know there are only 7 notes in a scale??

the reason i ask is that i watched a youtube vid (dont have the link sorry), and it showed somebody improvising with the minor pentatonic and then he said "lets move onto the blues scale" and the change in mood was huge - but i sat there thinking "thats still the same scale with just one extra note so how does he do that?"

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


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(@notes_norton)
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Okay, so in the example of blues in A major, i can use the C note? (this would be using the minor 3rd over a major chord yes?)

now, why does that not sound horrible, or is it just used very quickly as a passing note?

Over a Major chord, the m3, m7 are often called blue notes and can be used without any problems. No they don't sound horrible, they just sound blue.

In the minor pentatonic the b5 (tri-tone or diminished 5th) needs to be used in the right place, as it can sound awful if misused. Your ear should tell you. The same goes for the m3 in the major pentatonic.

I would recommend that you get Band-in-a-Box or some other way of generating a 12 bar blues progression and then simply noodle around on the pentatonic for a while, then add the b5 and the 9th - which is also the 2nd. But since a 9th chord is built 1, 3, 5, m7, and 9 (2nd up an octave) and the blues are full of 7th and 9th chords, it is usually referred to as the 9th
(disclaimer: I write after-market styles for BiaB but I was a fan of it for a great practice tool before I started writing styles)

Insights and incites by Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@almann1979)
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Topic starter  

so, will blues players change the scale they are using as the chords change,
e.g if chord progression is Am, C, F G will they use major and minor pentatonics in all those keys as the chords move along, or would they stick to one "pattern" throughout?

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


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(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
 

They can do both. We'll be examining this decision on "what scale to use when" in our ongoing series of lessons on the main page (Turning Scales Into Solos) throughout the coming months. The next lesson (which should be online sometime next week) deals specifically with the use of minor pentatonics in blues songs and about why one can use either the same scale throughout the entire song. The following lesson will deal with changing scales as the chords change.

Peace


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(@almann1979)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Topic starter  

thanks - il look forward to reading that. :D

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


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(@mcstivi)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 9
 

I've recently have viewed Blues scales in a new light. I was curious of others thoughts on this.

Much of blues is based off a dominant and very major sounding progression, i.e. the 1,4,5 progression, which utilizes (normally) all major chords (by major i am defining as containing a major 3rd). However, its the MINOR blues scale that works fantastic in this scenario and is the cornerstone of the blues feeling. You COULD play a major scale over this progression but it will lack that slightly tension based blues sound. So here we have major chords over a very typical major sounding progression, accompanied by the MINOR pentatonic. What the minor pentatonic does, in one perspective, is take the important notes in the major scale, the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th and flat the two MOST important ones, the 3rd and 7th (and the 5th). So really the blue note is not just the b5th, but really also the b3rd and the b7th. This is how I see it.

This creates that tension, in my mind, as the key is constantly pushing back between major and minor.

Just some thoughts and I am curious what others think of this logic.


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(@tinsmith)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Not to vary from the subject too much, but I found myself using the minor pent scale too much. I think I should give a conscious effort to using just the blues scale for a while instead of the minor pent for a change.

The difference for me is different finger positions....also the first scale I learned & have been overlooking.

Time to get goin' on it again.


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(@tinsmith)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Anyone feel the same way???


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 Noff
(@noff)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 102
 

Not to vary from the subject too much, but I found myself using the minor pent scale too much. I think I should give a conscious effort to using just the blues scale for a while instead of the minor pent for a change.

The difference for me is different finger positions....also the first scale I learned & have been overlooking.

Time to get goin' on it again.

It took me a while to realize that people were talking about two different (kind of) things between the minor pentatonic and blues, so I just added the extra flat 5th and work with that. Right now I'm working on adding the major pentatonic to that.


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(@tinsmith)
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Actually only two fingerings are different. The rest are basically the same. First & third I believe, depending on where you start.


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