The Blues Scale Formula - Theory & Diagrams | Pianote (2024)

Jordan Leibel /Scales and Keys /UPDATED Feb 15, 2024

The blues scale formula is a fundamental concept every piano player should know. This sassy scale lets you riff, solo, and improvise as you play your favorite rock or blues songs!

The major blues scale formula is 1 – 2 – ♭3 – ♮3 – 5 – 6. Which means the C major blues scale consists of the notes C – D – E♭ – E♮ – G – A. The minor blues scale formula is 1 – ♭3 – 4 – ♭5 – 5 – ♭7, so the C minor blues scale has the notes C – E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭.

In this lesson, we’ll explain the theory behind the blues scale formula and show you all the major and minor blues scales in all 12 keys.

Table of Contents:

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Major Blues Scale Formula & Theory

The major blues scale formula is 1 – 2 – ♭3 – ♮3 – 5 – 6. Which means the C major blues scale consists of the notes C – D – E♭ – E♮ – G – A.

Every Major Blues Scale

Here are all the major blues scales in all 12 keys:

A-Flat Major Blues
Notes: A♭-B♭-C♭-C-E♭-F-A♭

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B-Flat Major Blues
Notes: B♭-C-D♭-D-F-G-B♭

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C Major Blues
Notes: C-D-E♭-E-G-A-C

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D Major Blues
Notes: D-E-F-F♯-A-B-D

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E Major Blues
Notes: E-F♯-G-G♯-B-C♯-E

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F-Sharp / G-Flat Major Blues
Notes: F♯-G♯-A-A♯-C♯-D♯-F♯

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A Major Blues
Notes: A-B-C-C♯-E-F♯-A

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B major Blues
Notes: B-C♯-D-D♯-F♯-G♯-B

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C-Sharp / D-Flat Major Blues
Notes: D♭-E♭-F♭-F-A♭-B♭-D♭

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E-Flat Major Blues
Notes: E♭-F-G♭-G-B♭-C-E♭

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F Major Blues
Notes: F-G-A♭-A-C-D-F

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G Major Blues
Notes: G-A-B♭-B-D-E-G

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Other Ways to Understand the Major Blues Scale

Another way to remember the major blues scale formula is as a series of steps: whole step – half step – half step – minor 3rd (3 half steps) – whole step.

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If you know the major pentatonic scale formula, you can also think of the major blues scale formula as the same thing except we flat the third and repeat it as a natural note. The flatted third is our blue note.

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Minor Blues Scale Formula & Theory

The minor blues scale is more common than the major blues. Chances are, if someone says “play a blues scale,” what they’re referring to is the minor blues scale.

The minor blues scale formula is 1 – ♭3 – 4 – ♭5 – 5 – ♭7, so the C minor blues scale has the notes C -E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭. (Note that the blues scale formula is based on the major scale.)

Every Minor Blues Scale

Here are all the minor blues scales in all 12 keys:

A-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: A♭-C♭-D♭-E♭♭-E♭-G♭-A♭

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B-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: B♭-D♭-E♭-F♭-F-A♭-B♭

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C Minor Blues
C-E♭-F-G♭-G-B♭-C

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D Minor Blues
Notes: D-F-G-A♭-A-C-D

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E Minor Blues
Notes: E-G-A-B♭-B-D-E

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F-Sharp / G-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: F♯-A-B-C-C♯-E-F♯

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A Minor Blues
Notes: A-C-D-E♭-E-G-A

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B Minor Blues
Notes: B-D-E-F-F♯-A-B

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C-Sharp / D-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: C♯-E-F♯-G-G♯-B-C♯

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E-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: E♭-G♭-A♭-B♭♭-B♭-D♭-E♭

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F Minor Blues
Notes: F-A♭-B♭-C♭-C-E♭-F

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G Minor Blues
Notes: G-B♭-C-D♭-D-F-G

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Other Ways to Understand the Minor Blues Scale

Another way to remember the minor blues scale formula as a series of steps: minor 3rd (3 half steps) – whole step – half step – half step – minor 3rd.

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If you know the minor pentatonic scale formula, you can also think of the minor blues scale formula as the same thing except we add a flatted fifth. This fifth is our blue note.

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More About Blues Scales

For fun, try playing the notes of this scale in any order over a I-IV-V progression. For example, if you’re playing a major blues scale starting on A, you’d play Amaj (I), Dmaj (IV), and Emaj (V) in your left hand while playing notes from the A major blues scale in your right. It will sound awesome!

To learn more about the blues scale and how to incorporate it into your playing, check out our full lesson on how to master the blues scale on piano.

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Jordan Leibelis passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

The Blues Scale Formula - Theory & Diagrams | Pianote (2024)

FAQs

The Blues Scale Formula - Theory & Diagrams | Pianote? ›

The major blues scale

blues scale
The term blues scale refers to several different scales with differing numbers of pitches and related characteristics. A blues scale is often formed by the addition of an out-of-key "blue note" to an existing scale, notably the flat fifth addition to the minor pentatonic scale.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Blues_scale
formula is 1 – 2 – ♭3 – ♮3 – 5 – 6. Which means the C major blues scale consists of the notes C – D – E♭ – E♮ – G – A. The minor blues scale formula is 1 – ♭3 – 4 – ♭5 – 5 – ♭7, so the C minor blues scale has the notes C – E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭.

What is the formula for A blues scale? ›

This means the new formula for the major blues scale will be 1 – 2 – b3 – 3 – 5 – 6. In the key of C, we spell this C – D – Eb – E – G – A. The blue note in this major scale is E flat. Try substituting the major blues scale for all the exercises you practiced above.

What are the 12 blues scales? ›

Blues Scales for Piano
  • Cm Pentatonic Blues. Notes: C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb, C. ...
  • Dm Pentatonic Blues. Notes: D, F, G, G#, A, C, D. ...
  • Em Pentatonic Blues. Notes: E, G, A, A#, B, D, E. ...
  • F#m / Gbm Pentatonic Blues. Notes: F#, A, B, C, C#, E, F# ...
  • G#m / Abm Pentatonic Blues. ...
  • A#m / Bbm Pentatonic Blues. ...
  • C Pentatonic Blues. ...
  • D Pentatonic Blues.

What is the blues scale explained? ›

The term blues scale refers to several different scales with differing numbers of pitches and related characteristics. A blues scale is often formed by the addition of an out-of-key "blue note" to an existing scale, notably the flat fifth addition to the minor pentatonic scale.

What is A blues scale quizlet? ›

What is a "blues scale"? A seven-note scale in which the third, fifth, and seventh pitches are sometimes flat, sometimes natural, and sometimes in between. A "chorus" is: a full statement of the tune around which the performers improvise.

How do you find the blue scale? ›

The intervals that make up the minor blues scale are the same in any key. These intervals are: A whole step and a half step, a whole step, a half step, a half step, a whole step and a half step, and a whole step. The fourth note in the scale, in this example D#, is the blue note.

What is the key of the A blues scale? ›

The notes of the A Major Blues scale are A B C C# E F#. It's key signature has 3 sharps.

What is the best scale for blues? ›

There are two types of pentatonic scale; the major and the minor pentatonic scale. Both of these are important, and both are widely used in blues and rock guitar playing. This is especially true of the minor pentatonic scale, which has come to define the sound of blues and rock music.

Why is the blues scale so good? ›

The Blues scale fits well with all of these chords because it contains the defining root note and flat seventh note of each one of them. It also contains F♯, a tritone away from the key note of C. Tritones are very important intervals for adding tension to music.

What is the order of the blues scale? ›

The blues scale is made up of 6 notes: the root note, flat 3rd, 4th, flat 5th, 5th and flat 7th. To play a blues scale in any key, you just have to start on the root note of the key you're in and play those six notes in order. So, if you're in the key of C, you would start on C and play C-Eb-F-Gb-G-Bb.

What is the blues scale an example of? ›

So, the use of the blues scale is the same as the pentatonic scale. We can apply it anywhere we would apply the traditional pentatonic, just watching out for the fact that the blue note is a passing note, that is, it should appear only in the middle of other notes, and not as a resting note.

What are the blue notes in a blues scale? ›

The blue notes are usually said to be the lowered third, lowered fifth, and lowered seventh scale degrees. The lowered fifth is also known as the raised fourth.

Which of the following describes the blues scale? ›

The blues scale is essentially a minor pentatonic scale with an added chromatic passing tone leading up to sol (^5) . Example 4. The C blues scale creates stylistic clashes with the I and V chords of C major. This blues scale is used in both major and minor blues tunes, despite the clashes with the underlying harmony.

What is the formula for the pentatonic scale? ›

With that in mind, the major pentatonic scale's formula is 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 6 notes of a given scale. These five notes can also be found among the seven notes that make up the E major scale, with A and D# being the other two.

What is the formula for the BB blues scale? ›

The notes of the Bb Major Blues scale are Bb C Db D F G. It's key signature has 2 flats. Press play to listen to the scale.

What is the formula for the major scale? ›

The major scale follows the formula "whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half" or WWHWWWH. Beginning on the note C and following this pattern gives us C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Notice that the words "whole" and "half" do not refer to any of the notes: they describe the distances between them.

What is the pattern of the G blues scale? ›

The notes of the G Minor Blues scale are G Bb C Db D F. It's key signature has 2 flats. Press play to listen to the scale. Click the virtual piano or the notation to hear each note.

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