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Thread: blues scale

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    Default blues scale

    A question I've been meaning to ask for a while: I know what the blues scale is but in a (American) book on rock guitar I bought back in the 1970s, the scale they said was the blues was g, bflat,c, d, f, g.

    Why would they use this instead of the conventional blues scale?

  2. #2
    Registered User Pete Summers's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Never mind. I revise my comments. But the flattened 3 and 7th in the G scale makes this a G blues scale, doesn't it? Theory is not my strong suit.

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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    I don't know why they would skip the 6th as Pete noted, but as I was just a kid in the 70's I just catalog it with the other things that seem silly to my generation that they used to do then.

    I get the feeling my preschooler is going to be saying that about stuff I do in not too many years.
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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    For blues-rock based guitar that is the basic minor pentatonic blues scale: I -- flat iii-- IV -- V-- flat vii-- I. So in G, that would be G, Bb, C, D, F, G. That would also be the basic blues scale for west side Chicago blues guitar, ala Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, or Otis Rush.

    That scale will often be augmented with the flat V (for G, it would be C#). Depending on the player, you'll also hear the ii (A) or vi (E). You would really hear this in the swing based Texas and West Coast blues players, like Hollywood Fats, Kid Ramos, or Junior Watson.

    The major pentatonic--which I often think of as the country/country rock ala Dickey Betts--is I -- ii-- iii-- V -- vi-- I (in G, G-A-B-D-E-G). The IV (C) will sometimes be thrown in, as well as shades of the minor pentatonic blues scale.

    Someone with more theory knowledge may jump in to augment or correct, but this is the way I look at and utilize these pentatonics (and altered variants).

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    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    I thought the blues scale was:

    1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 1

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    Registered User Don Julin's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Isn't that what Jim just said?

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    composer, lyricist Bill Stokes's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Seemingly simple question. Potentially big can of worms.

    I've heard that basic pentatonic (G, B flat, C, D F) called the "black notes," meaning those are the intervals of the black keys on the piano: (Db, Eb, F, Ab, Bb.) Same intervals, different key. Some teachers, like this guy start kids out with that one, because beginners tend to beat the flat 5 to death, if you teach it early.
    Jimmy Bruno will tell you there is no such thing as a "blues scale." And he has a valid point. Evidently the origins of the blues lie in African sorrow chants, and field hollers. Early blues masters didn't attain their mastery by practicing any so-called blues scales. That analysis came later.

    I love it that the Twisted Blues thread is currently right next to this one. Guys like Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell aren't limited by 5-note pitch collections; they select from all 12.

    Pentatonics are a place to start, but they're limited; they can also be limiting.
    (Of course that's just my opinion.)

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    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    [QUOTE=Don Julin;1070318]Isn't that what Jim just said ?

    Sorry, I'll stay out of this and leave it to you "pros"

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    composer, lyricist Bill Stokes's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Don Julin
    Re: blues scale

    Isn't that what Jim just said?
    No.

    (Is this a private fight, or can anybody join?)

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    Registered User Don Julin's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    For blues-rock based guitar that is the basic minor pentatonic blues scale: I -- flat iii-- IV -- V-- flat vii-- I. So in G, that would be G, Bb, C, D, F, G. That would also be the basic blues scale for west side Chicago blues guitar, ala Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, or Otis Rush.

    That scale will often be augmented with the flat V (for G, it would be C#).
    I have come across many things that people call a blues scale. In this case Tom and Jim have said the same thing. 1 (G), b3 (Bb), 4 (C) b5 (C# or Db), 5 (D), b7 (F), octave (G).

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    Default Re: blues scale

    I have been listening to alot of Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong doing the acompaniement. Besides just being so inspirational, Louis's blues playing is extremely melodic.Much of his solos and licks stay predominently major. He inflects into the major notes often from the flated note but doesnt rely on the blues notes so much. When he does hit a flat 3 or flat 7, man you know it!!!

    Just an observation...Gary

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    Default Re: blues scale

    Thank you all for your comments.

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    composer, lyricist Bill Stokes's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    I want to edit the post above, where I got the black keys on the piano wrong. (Slap self on forehead, shout DUH!)
    But I don't get the option to edit on that one. Darn. It should say Eb, Gb, Ab, Bb, Db.

    Y'all can mostly disregard me, I guess.

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    Default Re: blues scale

    Great subject. Perhaps because it is open to debate, I say it's all twelve tones and to go even further the cracks between the just tones is where the blues is really at.

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default

    The blues quality is actualy the space between the b3 and 3, the b5 ( or #4) and 5 and the b7 and major 7. This brings it roughly into line with those scales that came over from Africa. The ear 'hears' the tone, in that dissonance between a (say) b3 and a major chord.
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    Default Re: blues scale

    The blues scale the OP posted was what I learned many years ago on the guitar, and learned the corresponding positions up and down the neck. This is typically what "position" blues players use as a foundation on electric guitar. Eric Clapton would be a good example. However, a good player uses so many blends, slurs, slides, and other inflections that what comes out is a much more extended scale. SRV often bent notes way out of pitch. Makes the notes indicated by finger position somewhat irrelevant. For a doctoral thesis on the topic, listen to the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers album featuring Eric Clapton, often called the Beano album. You will get a feel for why his nickname was Slowhand.


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    Default Re: blues scale

    I have been playing blues guitar and mandolin for years (as an amateur) and to my recollection have never given one moment of thought as to what a blues scale is... Or if I knew at one time I forgot about fifty years ago.

    to academecise the blues is to squeeze the life out of it, in my opinion. Do we really think the early blues players had any notion of what the "blues scale" is???? I guess I am just reacting to the many "blues" performances I have heard where they follow the "rules" of blues and it still sounds terrible.
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Do we really think the early blues players had any notion of what the "blues scale" is????
    Oh definitely. Robert Johnson's parents wouldn't let him go outside and play with his friends until he had practiced all of his blues scales.

    I'm sure this yoik knows his blues scales.

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    Registered User Marc Woodward's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    I made this following requests for a video after a recent workshop I ran. Pretty basic stuff but explores the blues scale (one interpretation of it at any rate!) and how I flatten notes and slide in and out etc. Might be of interest I hope...
    Cheers
    Marc
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Just got back from hols. Read all your comments with great pleasure and thanks Marc Woodward for you little workshop.

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    Default Re: blues scale

    Just got back from hols. Read all your comments with great pleasure and thanks Marc Woodward for you little workshop.

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    Default Re: blues scale

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Woodward View Post
    I made this following requests for a video after a recent workshop I ran. Pretty basic stuff but explores the blues scale (one interpretation of it at any rate!) and how I flatten notes and slide in and out etc. Might be of interest I hope...
    Cheers
    Marc
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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Quote Originally Posted by Bil View Post
    I love it that the Twisted Blues thread is currently right next to this one. Guys like Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell aren't limited by 5-note pitch collections; they select from all 12.
    Jazz blues is such a different animal than blues in other styles and Wes of course just tweaked it in his own wonderful way.
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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    If you want to see more of Wes' interpretation of the blues, I will post soon his solo on West Coast Blues (from the Incredible Jazz Guitar recording). I'm not yet finished transcribing and learning it yet, will post when I get done.
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    Registered User Marc Woodward's Avatar
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    Default Re: blues scale

    Hi Ald & Pefjr,

    Thanks! Mandolin is my 1920 Gibson F2.

    Cheers,

    Marc
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