What is a Blues Scale?
A blues scale is a scale built with six notes derived from the major and the minor pentatonic scales. Many people think there is only one blues scale, The minor blues scale , because this is the most known and the most used in music. This is a mistake, there is no unique blues scale, there are several combinations of notes which have a blues sound. We can classify the blues scales this way :
Hexatonic Scales or Six-Notes Blues Scales.
The minor blues scale with a b5
This is the minor pentatonic scale (1-b3-4-5-b7) including a flat ninth (b5). This is the most widely used of the blues scales. It is built with a root (1), a minor third (b3) also considered as flat eleventh (b10) or sharp ninth (#9), a fourth (4 or 11), a flat fifth (b5 or #11) which is the blue note and a minor seventh (b7).
The minor blues scale with a major 3rd (3)
This one contains the same notes as the minor pentatonic scale but with a supplementary note, the major third (3). The formula is root (1) - minor third (b3) - major third (3) - fourth (4) - fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7).
The minor blues scale with a seventh (7).
There are two possible combinations. Root (1) - minor third (b3) - fourth (4) - fifth (5) - minor seventh (b7) - and seventh (7). or (1 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 5 - 7)
The voodoo blues scale
This is the same scale as the minor blues scale but with a sixth (6). Giving the formula (1 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 5 - 6).
The major blues scale
This is the major pentatonic scale (1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6) with an added b3 also named b10. It consists of a root (1), a second (2), a minor third, the blue note (b3 or b10), a major third (3), a perfect fifth and a major sixth (6).
This composite blues scale consists of eight notes, including the three blue notes. Formula is 1 - b10 - 3 - 11 - b5 - 5 - b7 - 7.
The composite blues scale
The composite blues scale or Mixolydian blues scale or mixo blues scale is built with nine notes. As its name implies, it is a mix of the minor blues scale (1 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 5 - b7) and the Mixolydian mode 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7 (or the major pentatonic scale). This scale combines major & minor pentatonic sounds, here is the formula : 1 - 2 (9) - b10 (or #9) - 3 - 11(4) - b5(#11) - 5 - 13(6) - b7.
This guitar lesson with shapes, charts and theory covers the three types of minor blues scales.
This lesson with theory and diagrams explains how the major blues scale is built and how to play it on guitar.
This jazz lesson with diagrams and scale charts is about the mixo-blues scale also called Mixolydian blues scale or hybrid blues scale.
The voodoo blues scale is a variation of the minor blues scale. Guitar lesson with diagrams and tables.