Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/blues scales


In blues (and jazz) they often use the minor blues scale.
There is also a major blues scale. I have only really heard that scale being used in country music.
But can one use the major blues scale when playing the blues? Or should you only play the minor blues scale?

ANSWER: Hi Hank :

The basic :blues scale"  i.e. I b!! IV (bV) V bVII = G Bb C Db D F

works in both major and minor blues situations ( usually in conjunction with Major
/Dominant  chord shapes in the major construction ..i.e. G7 Gy /9 G7/9# etc.

The only possible conflict is if the underlying harmony uses MAJOR 7 and 9s

If you keep it bluesy, those  six tones  ( and their companions on the scales on the fourth and fith ) pretty much do the trick

hope this helps!

Phil Kelly

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: so you're saying that in only need to play the "minor blues scale" in blues (or jazz)? I don't need to be bother with the "major blues scale" unless I am doing cuntry music solo? Is this what you are saying?

Theres only the one blues scale that I know of ..and its the one I discussed earlier.
As I said the SAME SIIX TONES are useable in both modal settings/

The "rub" created in the major scale by the lowered 3 ,5 and seven is characteristic of the :blues" genre. ..

In other modal situations ( Mixolydian ,Dorian etc  -any of them except Lydian ) this scale also works pretty well.


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Phil Kelly


I`m a semi-retired professional music arranger with over thirty five years in all phases of the commercial music production business. I can try to answer questions regarding music arranging, theory, orchestration , and/or composition for most acoustic ensembles .( jazz band or orchestral ) I can try to offer suggestions about studio music recording procedures and some basic MIDI applications , too. In the course of my career I`ve worked with such artists as Doc Severinsen and the old Tonight Show Band, Bill Watrous, Buddy Greco, John Gary, Mel Torme, Julius LaRosa, as well as the Pop programs of the Fort Worth, Dallas, North Carolina, and Houston Symphonies, as well as library music material for ABC, ESPN, and NFL Films.

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